On Veterans Day, my dad, Scott, Carl and I set out to traverse the Black Mountains from Bowlens Creek to Cane River Gap, bagging ten of the SB6K peaks along the way. We rendezvoused and camped out at Cane River Gap on Tuesday night in questionable weather as the remnants of a tropical storm slowly scraped across the Appalachians.
For better or worse, we all decided to commit to this real Black Mountain Marathon and took off up the first 3000’+ climb the next morning. The Crest trail was a creek in many places. It continued to rain with no end in sight as we topped out on Celo, our first peak. We laughed and carried on in good company and high spirits to Gibbs, Winterstar, Cattail, Balsam Cone, Craig…
By the time we reached the evacuated summit of Mitchell, our crew was in various stages of discomfort. The wind had picked up, and it continued to rain. A sheltered thermometer on Mitchell indicated it was 35* F. No doubt, we were in dangerous conditions. We continued on to Hallback, which was to become our last 6er of the day. By this point, manual dexterity had failed so much that it had become difficult for us to hold up eight fingers to report our tally.
We descended to Steppes Gap and sought temporary shelter in an unlocked restroom at the ranger station. Here a unanimous decision was made to omit the last two summits and take the Wilson Boundary Rd. to Balsam Gap and the Big Butt Trail to Cane River Gap. We finished the 26-28 mile trek in something like 9 hours. Believe it or not, this endeavor was a lot of fun and helped boost my respect for what some cats have done.
Scott hung out in Marion for the remainder of the week. His presence helped me get out and running more than usual. On Saturday, Uwharrie and I caught a lift from him up to Adam’s 4th annual Gobbler 50K. There was a great gathering of 30+ runners. Adam’s fun runs continually get better and better.
We were gifted with a warm, sunny day to enjoy the smooth trails of Bent Creek; all this came as quite a contrast to Wednesday. We finished in under 4.5 hours. Mike helped me get back to Marion after the obligatory communal feast at Papas and Beer, which is not quite like Jalapenos. If you’re in the area, check out this fabulous restaurant!
New Balance Leadville 1210
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