Saturday, January 12, 2013


In the past I've posted weekly training reports on this blog. Nowadays I’ll try for once every two weeks. I’m happy to report that rest, ginger and 拍打功 seem to have remedied my knee. A milestone worth mentioning: this Friday marked the 100th day at work. If memory serves, I’ve biked to and from work 95 out of 100 days (which sounds more impressive than it really is as it’s only 2.5 miles round-trip).

The LGLA route
If one lives in Brevard, regularly works 50+ hours a week, aspires towards adventure and disdains driving, I can think of no better workout than the above route. This loop has been dubbed the Looking Glass Look-Around and has been previously completed (in 50-mile form) to/from our house last Fall.

29 oz. and 3000+ Calories
I expected that the LGLA loop would become a convenient overnight training hike later this spring. But this weekend, spring came early. In exchange for lows in the 50's, I was willing to endure the forecasted drizzles. I packed my sack and set out in a clockwise direction at 4:20 PM on Friday. 

Ascending Bracken Mtn.
Darkness had set in by the time I made it to Butternut Shelter a little after 6 PM. I decided to call it a day after about 8 miles, which left me with a daunting 42-mile trek on Saturday. In bed by 8 PM (because what else is there to do when it’s dark?), I had a solid night’s sleep and was hiking by 6:40 AM.

Shelter configuration
Dawn at Gloucester Gap
Looking Glass from Pilot Mtn.
Highlands of the Great Balsams
Approaching FS-816
By 10 AM, I made it to FS-816 amid the highlands of the Great Balsams where low-lying drizzly clouds dominated the sky. I heard the baying of dogs and incoherent human yells. The yelling, baying and gunshots were uncomfortably close in the fog. I became acutely aware of my dark-colored clothing and hoped the hunters wouldn't shoot me. This was the scariest hiker/hunter interaction I've ever had.

Tennent Mtn. from the MST
Skinny Dip Falls
I made it to Skinny Dip Falls unscathed. Despite the unseasonably warm weather, I decided to just dip my head. As I descended from the parkway into the Pink Beds, I realized that I was ahead of schedule and an inaugural visit to the new Oskar Blues Brewery in Brevard (just 100 yards off the route) should happen. After a pint of G’Knight, I made it home by 6:10 PM after 11.5 hours of solid hiking.

Between Clawhammer and Black Mtn.
The ridge off Black Mtn.
Approaching Oskar Blues from bike path
A lot of beer
I went ahead and posted this on Saturday as Sunday will just be a day of rest and school work (as usual). Thought I'd share this: I love tiny cord locks, but never seem to have enough of them. There's no local source and they can cost $0.50 or more each (minus shipping). While hiking, I thought about trying out tiny zip ties as substitutes, which are widely available and relatively cheap. A small packet can provide more than enough locks for many projects. They're just the trick for small diameter cords...

Tiny zip ties as substitute cord locks


clay said...

Nice route!

mkirk said...

Thanks Clay, next up is figuring out your crazy route to the mines!

Caleb Boyle said...

Nice way to take advantage of the unseasonable weather! And, glad to hear the knee has come around.

Denise Davis said...

Take care of that knee! Ginger? Hmmm... My doctor suggested dried cherries for the achiness and surprisingly, it seems to have worked. A hunter shot into the trees above my head a few years ago on the MST below Black Balsam. Bright colors a good idea!

Scott said...

when i first moved to brevard, there were rusted remnants of an old still set up near butternut. the shiners used to access it from cathy's creek road, which is why there is an unmarked, but well used trail from that road into the backside of butternut gap. we couldn't tell if they were piping water from that spring that sometimes runs or from the creek to source it, it was already pretty much just a pile of rusted metal. there's a story that there used to be a community of folks who lived up there, and the old mccall cemetary supports that story. you found that yet? glad to see the shelter is still in good shape.

they build the oskar blues brewery on the old ecusta site?

mkirk said...

Hey Scott, thanks for the history. Have not yet been back to the cemetery yet. The brewery is actually behind the rec center.

Jon Harrison said...

3.5 mph for 42 miles- solid hiking, my friend!