Pitchell was a monkey I needed to get off my back. This year has been a great year for taking care of some unfinished business (namely Bartram and SAGE). With fingers crossed, I teamed up with Tim and Lindsey to bivouac below Pisgah for a few hours prior to our midnight start from the summit.
We were joined by ten other crazy people: Adam, Brandon, Brian, Dave, Dennis, Doug, Jeremy, Kevin, Mark and Wendy. Headlamps bobbled down the rocky trail in a long procession. I soon found myself alone with Tim cruising down the Shut-In. We fairly easily got ahead of pace descending to the French Broad. It was here that I pulled ahead of Tim (thanks for the company!).
Arriving to the Folk Art Center right after 6AM, Lindsey’s parents, Brian and Jeremy greeted me as I quickly switched out my bottle and grabbed a slice of pizza from Tim’s truck before slogging onwards into the dark. Jeremy caught me from his 50K starting point and we shared several miles together before meeting up with Kate, Kevin and Kevin’s mom at Ox Creek. Thanks for the company, Jeremy!
Kevin was hurting, but I encouraged him to keep on and join me for a push over the
Craggies. Jeremy picked up the pace with Brian at this point. Way up on the climb to Lane Pinnacle, we encountered a sign stuck in the ground that read “aid station at top of hill.” I thought it was just a cruel joke until we bumped into Damian who had hiked in 30 pounds of goods to supply runners at this remote spot!
Kevin and I met up with Kate, his mom and my folks at Beetree Gap. We refilled on water and calories before continuing on over the Craggies in the glorious autumn sunshine. There were a lot of other visitors along the parkway enjoying the beautiful fall colors. Parking was hard to come by, but our dedicated crew aided us at the next overlook as we caught up to my dad who was running this section.
Uwharrie got to join us for the next stretch into the Blacks. At this point, I decided that I could and should push for a sub-15 hour finish. Knowing both were competent and strong enough, I stopped looking back over my shoulder to check to see if Kevin and my dad were still with me and pushed the pace with Uwharrie to NC-128, 4 miles from the finish. I ditched the pack and took off with just a bottle.
I had just under an hour to go 4 miles to the summit of Mitchell. Kevin was right behind me. I ran hard until the last mile, which was the final steep climb to the summit. Here I power hiked past Mohammed who was just about to finish an impressive early bird Pitchell traverse in 18 hours and change! Kevin’s mom, Kate, Jeremy, Suzanne, Asa and Annie welcomed me to the summit in an elapsed time of 14:53.
We cheered as Mo, Kevin and my dad finished up and then we descended to the parking lot to meet up with the rest of the crew. After hanging out, we made our way down the mountain. Not bad for a little Saturday adventure… Fresh Frusciante and fotos below: