As the weather warms, more reports of extra vehicular activity such as running, walking and riding bicycles are streaming in. Considering the fact that most of these teens can't wait to get behind the wheel, I try to shape my response to these firsthand reports accordingly:
"Cool, how about you? Were you stuck inside a car?"
I know of at least one other MYOGer who might be interested in a recent fastpack gear project of mine, which amazingly, despite a hectic schedule, went straight from mind to matter one evening last week: a 10 oz. bug bivy. Before you scoff at the weight, keep in mind that this includes a built-in sleeping pad.
What makes this project noteworthy is the added challenge I (arbitrarily?) imposed upon myself to not buy any new materials, but build the bivy completely from scraps. Fortunately for me, I still have access to a good bit of cuben fiber, so the bathtub style floor is rather fancy. On top of that, secured by 2-sided tape is a full-length foam pad (gray = 1/4" thickness on the torso-knee region; black = 1/8" thickness). The zipper is reused from a salvaged duffel and the no-see-um is leftovers from the local fabric shop. Not too shabby, and considering our exceptionally warm spring, probably a good bit handy to have armed and ready.
This was a busy week. Playing hooky midweek for a jaunt up Woods on a warm spring evening was well worth it. With conferences running late most days at work, I knew the USSR was going to be my best bet for any substantial training.
Prior to this weekend, I was talking up a mean game of four consecutive laps at USSR preceding a taper. I’m thankful I got my head straightened out. Work had been too much of a drain. I decided that three laps would be just fine.
Chilly Cheetah came rolling through to pick Uwharrie and me up for a 6AM start on Saturday. Having tossed and turned in bed all night with little sleep, I was enthused to have the company of Mason, Tim, Lindsey and Damian early in the morning. These speedsters soon schooled me in the ways of the Seven Sisters.
We got to witness a beautiful dawn from the mountains above Montreat before making our way down to the 9:30AM mass start. The schooling continued into lap two as a multitude of smiling happy trail runners left me in the dust. I met up with Lily, Hannah, Brian and Uwharrie (now hiking) atop Graybeard.
Back to Lake Susan, a creek dip, snack break and hang out session preceded the 1:30PM start of a reverse third lap all by my lonesome. Building clouds with rumbling thunder helped to shade me on the oven-like ascent of Big Piney. Somehow I managed to drain all my water and calories along the West Ridge! But I still felt exhausted, so I decided to pull a Brockmeier: I put on my jacket and laid down for a spell.
This felt good, so I did it again further up the ridge. Realizing that I was pretty much toast, I bagged the loop and ran down the Graybeard Trail in the drizzle to meet Lily by 5PM. As we ate pizza in Black Mountain, I remarked to her how 40 miles, 10,000 feet and 11 hours can hardly be considered a botched workout… Still, it wasn’t what I (foolishly?) had in mind for a last long training effort. Perhaps there will be another opportunity. And if not, so it goes: the flow of the natural rhythm.
3.5: 1.5h, 200’ MTCC w/pack +ppp
3.6: 1.5h, 800’ 2x Ida +ppp
3.7: 1.1h, 800’ Umstead State Park
3.8: 1.6h, 800’ Umstead State Park
3.10: 10.9h, 12,500+’ Grand Loop
3.11: 1h, 200’ Peavine +ppp
I was in Raleigh for a conference from Tuesday evening until Friday afternoon, but fortunately had two opportunities to run a cool figure-8 loop on some of Umstead’s superb singletrack. Thanks to Lily’s mom and my folks for such fine accommodations while downstream.
The grand finale for the week was of course, the Grand Loop. I’ve been infatuated with this route for the last few months and this Saturday’s wonderful weather provided a perfect opportunity for an unsupported attempt of the loop for the first time.
Long story short: Uwharrie and I started and finished from Pine Gap in a clockwise direction. We completed the route in 10h50m28s. Some raw footage from the day was compiled here, nothing too fancy, but some useful splits were recorded. I would highly encourage other folks to check out this incredibly wild and scenic route!