Many thanks to Bill and the MTA for putting on the Point Lookout Lightning 5K this past Saturday. This event provided a great opportunity to reward McDowell Early College students for their dedication to Friday's running/walking for fitness class (with a goal of collectively reaching 1000 miles before the end of the year). The MTA was kind enough to provide a team discount. We had 6 students and 3 teachers participate. MEC left with a good bit of hardware, I'm proud of everyone's performance. It's been quite a while since I've raced a 5K. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and would highly recommend it.
A rustling in the leaves grew louder in the darkness beyond our campfire. Just moments earlier, I had been relishing the peace and quiet of our secluded campsite in Horse Branch. The sound of cracking branches suggested the creature was big enough to be a bear.
A brutal workweek had come to an end. With waning energy levels Friday evening, I rushed to get packed up with Uwharrie. Fighting back second thoughts about an overnight trip, I quickly brainstormed a pack list and destination to A.) get away from the buzzing lights and noise of civilization; B.) relax comfortably in the woods; C.) travel light; and D.) move a substantial distance on a network of scenic trails.
As twilight faded, I polished off a second and last Old Chub. All objectives seemed met with one exception: objective B did not stand for bear. Uwharrie let out a guttural growl, which seemed to steer the unwelcome beast away. Well aware that the paltry food bag above our bivouac hung precariously in jeopardy, I somehow slept soundly and awoke at dawn to an undisturbed camp.
With memories cast upon a distant SAGE, we stopped for a coloramic breakfast atop Snooks Nose. With seven years of additional experience, I wondered if I could finish that ambitious loop today. The distant baying of dogs reminded me that this Saturday marked the opening of Pisgah Bear Sanctuary to hunters. Energy levels seemed low, but I was thankful to be here on a relatively peaceful morning.
Destinations were scaled back accordingly. Green Knob Lookout marked the turnaround. We made our way downstream along Newberry Creek. Large pick-ups stuffed with fluorescent orange heads crept back and forth along the gravel roads. We let the Fudds have their way with the forest and returned home well aware that our nighttime visitor was now most likely dead meat.
Sunday, between obligatory chores and homework, we snuck out: this time up to the Overmountain Victory Trail and MST. Pictures taken of and by mammals not hunted...yet:
Simply put: today was a beautiful day spent in the woods on a favorite stretch of MST with a great bunch of people. I enjoyed catching up with many folks I haven't seen in a while and had fun sharing 32 miles, 9000+ feet of climbing and a little over eight hours on the trail with Brian Kistner and Uwharrie. Congratulations to Adam for another impressive Pitchell 100K+++ finish and thanks for putting this fun run together year after year!
A few strong runs leading up to today's drizzly time trial suggested that it may finally be time to join the Kitsuma Klub. Over a week ago, I ran an 8 mile circuit over Snooks Nose at a fast uphill clip (for me anyway). Last Thursday, Lily dropped Uwharrie and me off at Old Fort picnic area and we ran the uphill split of Kitsuma in 39:39. And then over the weekend I got a chance to run 12+ miles out-and-back on the Pilot Mtn. Corridor Trail in sub-1:30.
Adam came out to pace Uwharrie and me up Kitsuma peak before dropping back to rest his legs for Pitchell. He seemed convinced that these somewhat sloppy conditions would actually bode well for a sub-1:20 time. A bloody butt slide down the slick ridge had me thinking otherwise. Nonetheless, I picked it up and hit the turnaround in 33:33. Now the workout had started: it was time to test my uphill skills. Atop the last climb, I knew, barring disaster, that I'd joined the klub. Stretching out the legs, releasing the brakes, I was surprised to krunk it in 1:14:13! Thanks Adam and Lily for the encouragement, good times!