1.30: 1.5h, 200’ MTCC +ppp
1.31: 1.5h, 1600’ 3x Ida +ppp
2.1: 1.5h, 1000’ Jamison and Ida +pp
2.2: 1.2h, 2000’ Woods +ppp
2.3: 1.5h, 1200’ Busbee +ppp
2.4: 4.5h, 2500’ along NC/SC line +ppp
2.5: 2.5h, 2500’ Mtn. Bridge +ppp
Elliott and I get together every year to have an adventure on our birthdays. Last year’s sledding trip down Max Patch wasn’t going to be repeated for a variety of reasons. So this year we chose to explore the future route of the Palmetto Trail (SC’s version of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail) along the Blue Ridge Escarpment. This cross-country excursion would take us about 10 miles along the NC/SC line.
Elliott, Uwharrie and I got dropped off at Hwy 25 along Gap Creek on Saturday. We climbed steeply up the escarpment into the drizzly fog. Both of us anticipated navigation to be fairly straightforward along the ridge. Atop the first summit, we found ourselves bushwhacking in circles through thick laurels. I was absolutely amazed by the disparity of our internal compasses. I admit that we were without a map and a real compass.
The passing clouds lifted temporarily and we caught a quick view of a higher ridge beyond the next saddle. We climbed directly through cliff bands and achieved the state line and a jeep road. The high fives were short lived as both road and markers soon disappeared into thick swathes of briars.
We found our way through forest and eerie field to another summit. The fog would tease us: lifting only momentarily to reveal an unknown valley below. We sat eating our PB&Js on the ridge, scratching our heads. What church is that down in the valley? Which way is north? What state are we in? Where should we go next? The only thing that we were certain of was that we were having fun. Most of us go to great measures to avoid these circumstances, but every once in a while it’s fun to get lost in the woods.
After trying to find our way for some time, we decided to head down towards the distant sound of what we could only surmise to be US-25. Down we descended through rhododendron, briars and cliff bands, down to the first sign of prior human passage, an ATV path. Down we continued along the muddy path beside a beautiful cascading creek until finally we set foot on a paved road after 4.5 hours of wandering. And Elliott knew exactly where we were…
I can still hear the laughter of our wives echoing in the car from when they picked us up only one mile down the road from where we had started. The laughter continued into the night over a few brews. Sunday morning brought sunshine and familiar terrain as Uwharrie and I snuck out to climb up to Little Pinnacle and Rainbow Falls in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness. Many thanks to Elliott Ashley for their awesome hospitality.
This past January brought the most consistent training of any in recent memory. There were 30 out of 31 days with forward progress on the feet and only five days without planks. I’m thankful for my health and freedom for such pursuits. Moving into February, I hope to maintain a stratospheric monthly elevation total. So far, so good.
15 hours ago