1.23: 1.5h, 200’ MTCC +ppp
1.24: 1.5h, 1600’ 3x Ida +ppp
1.25: 1.5h, 200’ MTCC w/pack
1.26: 1h, 750’ 2x Ida +ppp
1.27: 1h, 750’ 2x Ida +ppp
1.28: 6.5h, 6000+’ Grand Loop recon +ppp
1.29: 1.2h, 2000’ Woods Mtn. +ppp
Training through an achy knee and stuffy head cold is a sure sign of stubbornness. Although the jury is still out on whether or not this was a wise decision, I’m feeling pretty good about it at the moment. Maybe this is merely a result of looking at the week’s superfluous numbers, but I’d like to think that I’ve grown smarter after a decade of trial and error. I thank Brandon for helping motivate me to hit up the gorge this weekend.
Ever since I learned about the existence of a 40-mile route (100% trail), which circumnavigates the Linville Gorge Wilderness, I’ve been eager to explore this so-called “Grand Loop.” Brandon, Uwharrie and I put in at 8AM on a chilly but beautiful Saturday morning from Linville Falls TH with intentions of exploring the northern half of the Grand Loop in a counterclockwise direction.
Equipped with maps, compass and GPS, we launched headfirst into a labyrinth of uncharted trails in the NE sector. We connected with the familiar Jonas Ridge Trail three hours in. Up to this point, we had only made a few small navigational errors, which had cost us less than ten or fifteen minutes. We moved quickly over Standing Bear and on to the summit of Hawksbill.
We were on a tight schedule: I had to be back for our Chinese New Years celebration in Marion by 3PM and now we were bushwhacking all over the precipitous peak of Hawksbill looking for the obscure ledge trail descent to Spence Ridge. Brandon made the call: we didn’t have enough time, so we abandoned the search and retreated to the FS road and ran down to Spence Ridge TH. Soon we were across the river and trudging at a steady clip along the technical Linville Gorge Trail.
In the interest of saving time, we made another shortcut to access Kistler from the Cabin Trail. We were back to the car after 6.5 hours, approximately 23 miles and over 6000 feet of climb. I’m happy that we got a chance to explore about 75% of what we had hoped to of this northern section. I’m also excited to get back out there in the near future to finish up recon in preparation for an attempt at the entire 40-mile circuit.
The vegetarian dumplings were fantastic along with all the other dishes that our friends helped us to prepare Saturday evening at our Chinese New Year celebration. I thank Lily for gathering us all together for the feast. What a great idea! Sunday brought another beautiful spring-like day. Lily, Uwharrie and I made our way to Tom’s Creek and up the MST. Although I honestly wasn’t paying close attention to the time, I’m pretty sure I nearly tied my PR up and down Woods.
10 hours ago