Showing posts with label appalachian trail. Show all posts
Showing posts with label appalachian trail. Show all posts

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Bizarre Warning Along the Appalachian Trail

While visiting the in-laws recently in Tower City, PA, I took a short run over in Stony Valley.  There is a rails-to-trails path off Gold Mine Road which intersects the Appalachian Trail some 3.5 miles in.

Anyway, an interesting warning sign appears at the trailhead, warning of possible unexploded ordnance from an Army base nearby:


Hope you can enlarge sufficiently to read the warning poster.  I don't know about you, but the last thing that I want to think about while I'm running trails is military activity and the possibility--even if extremely remote--of getting blown up.




Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Running With a Friend on the Appalachian Trail

Earlier this summer my good running buddy, Jody, and I ran the 15 mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail in southern PA from Caledonia Park south to the Rt 16 road crossing at Blue Ridge Summit.

Jody is an excellent photographer and took a number of shots using a high-end pocket camera (sorry, I don't have the make & model handy).  These two photos (of me!) struck me so I'll share them here:


A ghostly chestnut oak tree on the ridge top

On top of Chimney Rocks


The first scene: this site always kinda gives me the willies whenever I run under that particular tree.  This area was logged probably 100 years ago, I'm guessing, but this tree was spared and is now way larger than any other tree along that ridge.  The way the lateral limb hangs across the trail (did you note the white Appalachian Trail blaze, which being out on a horizontal limb has to be an AT rarity?).

For some reason this tree seems eerie, almost, but not quite sinister, and putting it behind me always is a relief, especially if I am running there alone.

Then the lovely vista from Chimney Rocks practically knocks your socks off.  It's well worth the trip.  Heading south you then have a screaming downhill of about a mile and a half that passes the twin Tumbling Run shelters, a mountain brook, and a wonderful spring.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Last Weekend on the Appalachian Trail...

Last weekend my friend Jody and I did 15 miles from Caledonia State Park in Franklin Co., PA, south to PA Rt. 16.

It'd been a number of months since I did that stretch, and frankly, I was bit intimidated by what I recalled of the route.  Turns out my fears were unfounded, as my recollection was that this section of the AT was rougher than it actually was.  I found the trail less steep and more runnable that I recalled, so chalk that up to a plus for failing memory.

Here are a couple of shots taken by Jody of me along this absolutely superb section of the Appalachian Trail:

Under a massive chestnut oak, perhaps the only horizontally blazed tree on the AT


The view from Chimney Rocks


The run was great, the company was great, and I hope to hit this section again real soon.  At about 25 minutes from my home, it's the closest place I can reach the AT.


Monday, January 27, 2014

More Trail Maintence Stuff--Esp For Whitetop66

Whitetop66 left me a comment to a trail maintenance post I did back on 18 Dec.  I just posted a reply there but he/she may not see it.  So in the public interest here's a dedicated post that gets into the nitty-gritty of creating a trail sign (just in case you thought trail signs magically materialized in place on posts that dug themselves). 

This post is in the weeds, but we Ultrarunners love us some weeds, right?

[image credit  Gary]

Whitetop66,
 
I am sorry I did not see your email till now—I have blog comments dumped into a folder that I do not see as regularly as I should. 

1. DREMEL TIP: My Dremel tool is the Model 4000 Series, about the size of a large cucumber.  The Dremel tip I used is # 117 (on left in photo).   

2. DREMEL CUTTING GUIDE: I put on the Dremel Cutting Guide (item on right in photo) that comes with the tool, which allows the Dremel to rest vertically on the wood and you just guide it along the traced letter outline.  I think it’s much like using a router.  I set the depth of the cutting blade to be between ¼” and 1/8”. 

3. FONT: The font I used is Arial Rounded MT Bold.   

4a. CREATING THE STENCIL, EXACTO KNIFE METHOD:  In Microsoft Word, I used Insert and Word Art to create a text box with the right signage and font above.  In Word Art you can stretch the text box horizontally and vertically.  I used  1.5” high; on length I just used a gut feeling to gauge the appropriate length.  In Word Art there is an option to vary the space between letters, so I maxed that spacing out.  Then I printed the words of the sign (which will likely be individual words that you must align for the mock-up of your sign).   I then used an Exacto knife to cut the letters out into a stencil, then traced the letters onto the wood in pencil.  

4b. CREATING THE STENCIL, TRACING METHOD:  Create the printed words as above, then skip the cutting out/stencil part and use some type of carbon paper to transfer the letters to the wood.  I just bought this craft tracing paper but have not used it yet:  “Saral Transfer (Tracing) Paper blue non-photographic 12 1/2 in. x 12 ft. roll”   I got it from Amazon for about $12.00.  It should work pretty well and save the cutting-out step. 

5. PAINT: I painted the whole board, with cut letters, in basic Rustoleum Brown, then painted the cut letters in white. 
 
[image credit Gary]
 

Hey, way to go on your AT hike!  That’s not realistic for me but I’m with you thru-hikers in spirit!
 
 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Appalachian Trail Stomach Virus

Seems that some hikers along the Appalachian Trail just south of its midpoint are contracting a severe intestinal bug.  From my local paper, the Chambersburg Public Opinion, on 30 May 2013, "Viral outbreak on Appalachian Trail hikes toward Pennsylvania":

While the worst viral outbreak to strike hikers in Appalachian Trail history is traveling north from Georgia into Pennsylvania, health officials say there is really no reason for area residents to be concerned.
Bob Proudman, director of conservation operations for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, said an outbreak of norovirus among trail hikers began somewhere around the Tennessee-North Carolina border about four weeks ago and is moving north with the hikers.
Norovirus has a 12- to 48-hour incubation period, lasts 24 to 60 hours and may cause severe diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration. 
Signs are being posted along the Appalachian Trail south of Maryland. Signs read "A.T. shelters and privies may have been used by sick hikers" and information includes ways to "help prevent spread of highly contagious 'stomach bug'":
        - Wash hands with soap and water.
        - Treat all water. Use best "leave-no-trace" practices.
        - (Alcohol-based) hand sanitizers may not be effective against the stomach bug.
        - Stomach bug has a 12- to 48-hour incubation period, lasts 24 to 60 hours and may cause severe diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration.
        - People with stomach bug may be contagious for three days to two weeks after recovery.


I've previously posted about drinking Potomac River water--treated of course--here. The treating agent was bleach, but of course since I am not a public health expert you must take my story for what is is--a personal anecdote, and not definitive advice.

I've never succumbed to any such illnesses but I've had some severe influenza, which kinda gives me the idea.  We all tend to get complacent about basic precautions with our food and drink, so the bottom line is that it's time to assume it could happen to me, and take appropriate precautions.

 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Appalachian Trail Run...and Being a Good Animal

[photo by Gary]

You kinda had to be there for this rollicking run over hill and dale for some 19+ miles, from Pine Grove Furnace State Park south to Caledonia State Park, in southern PA. 

The weather was wintry, in the upper teens at the start, dropping some as we gained altitude on the ridgetops, and with up to 3" of snow in spots.  The snow was fairly trampled, as the AT had obviously been recently well traveled despite it being mid-winter.

Besides my companionable companions, the highlights of the day for me were just covering some beautiful trail miles, drinking from a couple spring-fed streams, the brilliantly deep blue sky.  But mostly, I guess, the satisfaction that comes from the words of Dr. George Sheehan (the running philosopher from the initial boom of the 1970s), who challenged us: "First being a good animal."

On the trail on Monday, I was a good animal.  My mind was sharp, my feet sure, and I felt full of the possible.  It doesn't get any better than that.

With this run under my belt, the Seneca Trail 50K in 2 weeks is well within my comfort range at my present level of training.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Rocky Knob Trail

A couple days ago--when temps here in Franklin County, south-central PA, reached 70 F in December--I played hooky from household chores and went to explore the Rocky Knob Trail.  I have passed its intersection with the Appalachian Trail many times and always wondered about it:

[photos by Gary, junction with Appalachian Trail.  Segment here is along an old woods road, but 2/3 of the trail is single-track and mostly runnable]

The trail is located in the Michaux State Forest, just a couple miles north of Caledonia State Park.  PA Department of Conservation Natural Resources (DCNR) trail link with map is here.

The trail is like a flattened oval, with a spur trail located at each end to reach, respectively, the Appalachian Trail to the north, and Birch Run Road to the south, as it runs beside Long Pine Run Reservoir.  DCNR lists its length at "approximately 4 miles" but I am not certain whether that includes both spur segments.

The trail has a short segment along a stream, some cool rhododendron "tunnels," plus some good views once you gain the 1900'+ ridgetop.  Enjoy!



Center right = Rocky Knob, which the trail skirts, and is a tempting bushwhack to the summit; Long Pine Run Reservoir also visible


Large white pine (4' diameter trunk)



Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Picnic Table Along the Appalachian Trail


[photo credit Gary]

The old, decrepit picnic table is immediately beside the Conococheague Creek where the Appalachian Trail crosses it in Caledonia State Park.  This is in southern PA, about 18 trail miles north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

I like to suppose it is reserved for old, decrepit hikers (or Ultrarunners); as such, I would have a standing reservation there.

 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Appalachian Trail Run: Cumberland Valley Crossing


Yesterday I went for a 16 miler on the Appalachian Trail with a  couple buddies.  We did the crossing of the wide Cumberland Valley in central PA, north-to-south.  Used to be that this section was totally on roads and was notoriously the pits, but in 1992 a relocation was completed that utilized woodlots, fencerows, etc. to make for a beautiful, almost secluded wooded trail corridor.

The day was beautiful, mild, and we saw lots of deer.  Plus a small flock of bluebirds along one of the ubiquitous fencerows.  The trail corridor is interesting in that as you pass north to south, you first come down off North Mountain to reach the valley proper.  Then in rapid succession you cross PA Rt 944 in a pedestrian tunnel under the road; cross I-81 on the highway bridge that carries Bernheisel Road over the interstate highway; cross U.S. Rt 11, the former main north-south corridor prior to I-81, on a pedestrian bridge; cross the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks at grade level; and cross the historic Pennsylvania Turnpike on the highway bridge that carries Appalachian Drive over the turnpike.

Admittedly I am a transportation geek, but objectively speaking, all of these crossings are just plain interesting, as they involve historical routes from the past and present.

Last item of note, I am normally rather sure footed, rarely falling, but near the end I took a hard fall.  Rather than try to catch my fall with my arms I just turned the fall into a buffalo roll where the brunt of the impact was absorbed across my chest, shoulder, and back as I rolled.  Thankfully I impacted nothing hard—like rocks—and am only minimally sore today.  But it could have been disaster.

All in all, a great run.  Nothing really exceptional about it, but that’s part of the beauty, I guess.  Runs don’t have to be spectacular, they can be just as gratifying when they are plain ordinary.  See, an ordinary run trumps a sedentary period of equal duration anytime.
 
 

After the run, when the car shuttling was over, I visited the Waggoner’s Gap Hawk Watch (also image credit for above shot) location where PA Rt 74 crosses North Mountain west of Carlisle, PA.  I have always wanted to scope out a migratory raptor viewing site, so this was my day.  The birds were sorta quiet this day—the recorder told me that they had had just 18 birds over about 4 hours that morning…but in rapid succession soon after my arrival 4 red-tailed hawks and a bald eagle cruised by on their way south!  So perhaps I brought good luck.
 
 

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Decay of My Form

No--not the decomposition of my body after death--I'm talking about running form.

Yesterday I had a great run up on the Appalachian Trail with a couple buddies.  We did a car shuttle so the run was point-to-point, heading south from Caledonia State Park (Franklin Co., PA).  I planned on 11 miles while J and K ran on to the next auto access point to make their run a 16 miler.

Anyway, the trail along this segment is pretty rough at spots, with significant elevation change  My favorite expression for this type of run is that "the trail runs slow."  (I realize that should be slowly, being an adverb and all, but I'm being colloquial here).  I'd not run rough trail like this for awhile, so I became rather abused by the trail.

Towards the end, as fatigue caused my running form to decay, I kept catching my toes, stumbling, and nearly falling.  The failure or ability to lift ones feet as little as 1/4" would prove crucial to remaining upright or biting the dust.  I managed to save myself from falls multiple times, so not falling was indeed an accomplishment.  Had the run been longer, however, I feel certain I would have become horizontal.

Earlier in my running career, when I was focused on road racing, up to and including the marathon, I read a great deal about running form and technique.  Seems that according to the "experts," I could be faster if only I did this, or did that.  Just pick up any issue of Runner's World and you will see what I mean.  I dabbled in trying to improve my running form, with no success.  Maybe I didn't work hard enough at it, but eventually I realized that I ran because I liked it, and when I became focused on "improving" I began to dislike running.

I didn't realize it at the time, but my rejection of messing with my form represented the first manifestation of the principles of running for the pure enjoyment of running...and that principle eventually steered my course into trail running and Ultras.  Yay!

I believe that each one of us has a form and technique that is unique to us, predicated upon our physiology and our physique. The way we naturally run is in all likelihood the correct form for us.  Unless you have the potential to be world or national class, just run the way you run and enjoy it.

 
 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Caledonia Park...and Ultrarunning



[old picnic table...image credits Gary]

Sunday here in south-central PA was magnificent--temps in the upper 60s, sunny, no wind.  So we (3 generations) made our annual fall pilgrimage to Caledonia State Park for a brunch cookout.

The menu consisted of pancakes, eggs, bagels and cream cheese, sausage, and the "heart attack sandwich": thin-sliced beef tenderloin sauteed with onions, smothered with melted cheese, covered with an egg and served on a toasted bagel.

Pure cholesterol, of course, but I figure that in any balanced diet, there gotta be room for 1 heart attack sandwich per year.  At least I hope so.

And Nature seldom disappoints.  We walked through one open section of trail surrounded by grassy brush, and were suddenly covered with ladybugs, as my son found out:

 
They were fun and harmless...plus knowing the reputation of ladybugs for being good luck, we carefully brushed them off and were on our way.


Anyway, the Appalachian Trail goes directly through the park, and we hiked a short, flat section of it with the grandkids.  To them it's a fun hike, and they really have no idea--and truth be told, neither would the bride--of what it's like to actually run the trail.  It's like there are two trails, or perhaps more properly, two trail experiences: one for families and/or regular people, and one for trail runners.**

And that's today's connection with Ultrarunning: the feeling of self-sufficiency, of being a good animal, of yearning to see what's up around the bend or over the next hill.  How covering vast distances on foot makes regular hiking seem, well, simply too pedestrian

    **better make that 3: the through hiker experience

 
 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mister Tristan on the Appalachian Trail

Took Mister Tristan--the 4 year old human being, not the blog--over to the Appalachian Trail this weekend for a short hike.

To you folks who know the trail here in south-central PA, we parked at Old Forge and hiked north to the Tumbling Run shelters, so this was pretty short.  The main purpose was just to get out, take a short walk, and drink from a spring to let Mister Tristan know that's how water originally was obtained back in the old days...not from a faucet.

Along the way we saw some deer, some other small critters, and lots of teaberry plants with fruit.  You eat one of these berries and it's like chewing the teaberry gum we enjoyed as kids back in the 1950s: 


The berries are the size of peas, to give you a sense of perspective.


The Tumbling Run spring, which I have never seen go dry.
 
 
Mister Tristan's new hiking boots.
 
 
Spiderman enjoyed the hike as well.
 
 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Springer Mountain...and Ultrarunning


[Appalachian Trail plaque on Springer Mountain, image credit Wikipedia]

Last weekend I found myself mere miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. The place is legendary, as the jumping off point for most thru-hikers (most of whom choose to head south-to-north).

However--and more on this part of the story will come in a later post--I did not have the time and the daylight on this personal trip to head over there and do a trail run up to the summit where the AT actually starts.

Over my career I have had countless business trips, and one of my prime directives was always to scope out the local trail running possibilities.  As a result I have run in some pretty cool places that I otherwise would never have seen in this lifetime.  Unfortunately, this trip's logistics of necessity precluded any running.

Being that close to Mecca was heartbreaking but there will be future trips to northern Georgia.  And I have an unfulfilled date with Springer Mountain.

 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

AWOL on the Appalachian Trail, Part 2

Here's another post about David Miller's book, AWOL on the Appalachian Trail.

I posted about it last week here, and got sidetracked into a rant about nicknames.

Anyway, I basically forgot to comment upon the book itself, so let me correct that here by saying this was a wonderful read, two big thumbs-up.  The book was quite hard to put down, and I marked a number of passages in my Kindle that I wanted to remember or use here at Mister Tristan (the blog, not the 3-year-old human being).

Anyway, AWOL is staying at a hostel early in his hike called the Sunnybank Inn, where the owner, Elmer explains over dinner to the hikers that every night they come up with a question and bat it around the table to hear everyone's answer.

That night's question was "If you could choose one musical group or artist to eliminate--it would be as if their music never existed--who would you choose?"

AWOL doesn't list any of the responses, but I have mine.  Keeping mind that I grew up in the Classic Rock era of the 60s, and that's the music I still love today, here are my thoughts:

  • Elton John
  • Steve Miller Band
  • Led Zeppelin

The last one may seem odd, but whenever I go my CD library, I never think, "You know, some Led Zeppelin would sound pretty good right now."  And as for Steve Miller and Elton John, when a tune comes on the Sirius XM radio, I just flip to another channel.

 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why I'll Never Thru-Hike the Appalachian Trail

I am just finished up my Kindle book, AWOL on the Appalachian Trail, by David Miller (trail name AWOL). I am very familiar with my local sections of the AT here in south-central PA and all of MD, via my hiking and trail running.  But I have never set foot elsewhere on the AT along its 2,172 mile length as it winds its way through 13 (I think) states. 

Not that the notion of a thru-hike isn't appealing--some 1000 or so souls complete one every year. I love reading accounts of thru hikers and imagining how cool such a long trek would be. 

The obvious downside?  Freeing yourself up for the 5 months or so that a hike would take; being financially secure enough to afford it; planning and executing all the logistics.  Oh, and having the mental and physical fortitude to walk 2,172 miles in one long stretch.

Nope, all that stuff is doable for the determined.  What would be my undoing is the fact that all thru hikers are expected to assume an alias, a trail name by which they are known to the ATC and to each other on the trail.

I could not bring myself to do that.

See, I hate nicknames.  Always have.  I realize that there may be very good reasons for a person to assume or have conferred upon them a nickname, but that's not me.  I have, admittedly, an almost pathological aversion to even using a nickname for somebody else, much less having one of my own.  To me it's like, "Do I know you well enough to call you Crunchy instead of your real name, Craig?" 

So I'd have to go under my real name of Gary, to the consternation of all other thru hikers.  You just don't toy with time-honored traditions, so if I won't play the game, I'd just better not hike. 

See how easily I talked myself out of it?


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Abomination of Timing Training Runs…and Ultrarunning

I used to run with a guy—call him John--at an Army base where we both worked.  Owing to a corporate fitness program for us civilians, we could run for an hour 3 times a week (I still have this GREAT benefit!).

Anyway, John always had this dream of qualifying for Boston, but family and work demands always seemed to impede his ability to get those critical long runs in that are necessary to marathon success.  So he’d run the noontime runs at a great pace, Boston-qualifying pace, but never could get over the hump of being well enough trained to maintain such a pace over 26 miles.  That is, until the fall of 2009, when John qualified at the Steamtown Marathon in PA to finally earn—and I mean earn—his way into Boston in April 2011.

But the point of this post is to point out a huge philosophical difference between John and I.  Whenever we would run the military base perimeter, there were a couple road crossings at the gates, and in the main part of the base.  John would always start his chronometer at the beginning of our training runs, and whenever we would get stopped at a road for cars, he would pause his watch until we were clear and able to run again.

It drove me absolutely nuts. I never said anything to John, but to be that anal—to my way of thinking—was the absolute antithesis of everything that running is supposed to be: the freedom of movement, the flow, the pleasure of being a good animal.  To time to the second an ordinary training run, and to parse the seconds to cull out traffic and other delays, was just beyond my comprehension.  I figured that in any run there are delays, and you just accept that.

That said, I am mindful of the clock during training runs, but only to a point.  It is important to me to know whether a particular stretch of the Appalachian Trail usually takes me about 4 hours, and if today it takes me 5, I do note that and try to figure out why.  Was it the heat?  Did I stop to take photos?  Was in rainy and wet and slippery?  Did I just not have it today? 

But I limit that analysis to gross terms and times.  My benchmark unit of measure is the quarter hour or even the half hour…certainly NOT the second.

But then again, I never qualified for Boston.

 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

In Which I Get the Willies on the Appalachian Trail...

With the bride away at her parents' for a couple days, I worked a long day around the house and yard on Sunday, then debated whether to go for a run or not.  I was supremely unmotivated, but figured that I REALLY should drive the 17 miles over to the Appalachian Trail at Caledonia Park (PA) and take a run.

Well, I got a late start and was on the trail at 5:00 pm.  From where I parked it was nearly a mile on the flat to the start of the AT section--a good warm-up, because I HATE starting a trail run with an immediate macho uphill section.  That, to me, is Hell, or at least Purgatory.  Anyway, the uphill section goes up some 1200' or so over 3 miles, passing en route the Quarry Hill Shelter.

Here is where I saw a gaggle of Boy Scouts dragging their butts into the shelter after what obviously was a long day's hike. They look pretty bedraggled, and no wonder: the temp was about 90 and any breeze was practically nonexistent down at ground level in the forest.

At the 3 mile mark I hung a right onto the Hosack trail, the day's destination, as I had never hiked or run it.  It loops back towards Caledonia Park and has the potential to be part of a short loop or a long loop.  I aimed for about 8 miles due to time and daylight constraints.

The Hosack trail from its junction with the AT is decidedly different in character (single track vs. rocky jeep road) and almost immediately begins a descent into the adjoining hollow, one over from the hollow that holds the Quarry Gap Shelter and stream.

The trail was in great shape and easy to follow. As the trail plunged, the trees became larger, presumably from the increased difficulty in logging them out of this narrow ravine.  There was much mountain laurel and rhododendron, and finally, at the bottom, I reached the small run that drains this little valley.  It was cold and pure, with no human habitation upstream.  In short, it was a beautiful, shady scene, well worth the run (or hike if that's your druthers).

But--and that's a big but--I quickly realized that I was alone and nobody else was going to hike that trail in the remaining couple hours before sunset.  Suddenly I got all paranoid, fearing that I'd take a dive, hurt myself, or have some medical issue and nobody would even know where I was.  Sure, I'd told the bride, but I seriously doubt that she'd recall any trail names.  I could kick myself, having just watched 127 Hours, about how Aron Ralston was nearly undone by not telling anyone where he was going with any specificity, and wound up self-amputating his arm to survive.

My paranoia was lessened somewhat by taking another trail at the next junction that led in fairly short order to a forest road and thence out to the highway.  I attribute my willies to being 59, and having the life experience to now know that bad stuff doesn't always just happen to other people. 

When I was younger--like Aron Ralston--of course I was bulletproof, running the backcountry with impunity and sometimes without an itinerary.  About the only time I was ever seriously paranoid was running on the Pinhoti Trail when I was on a business trip to Fort McClellan, AL (since closed).  I had no cushion of time and I elected to run anyway on a new (to me) trail, and emerged from the woods as night was falling.  Not my smartest move, but that's a separate post.

Anyway, I must do better--probably the best, as well as the easiest, method would be to just call my son and leave a voice mail with explicit locations, times, etc.  How hard would that be while driving to the trail, or while getting parked and started?

 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Drinking Spring Water

Mister Tristan (the human being, not the blog) and I went for a short hike the other day.  I decided to take him to the Appalachian Trail and then the Mainline Hobby Supply model train shop in nearby Blue Ridge Summit, PA.

It was a day tailor-made for boys, young and old.  The main purpose of the short hike was to take him to Bailey Spring along the AT where he could drink spring water from an actual spring for the first time and savor its cold sweetness.  Mister Tristan loved it—the notion of drinking water where it comes out of the ground was absolutely fascinating for him.

This hike was deliberately short, about a mile, max.  And of course, the model train shop afterwards was the icing on the cake.  They have a small layout with O, HO and N gauge trains where kids can work some of the controls while the bigger “boys” talk.

I hope I’m doing it right.  I think so.

 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Appalachian Trail, Wet Feet, and Ultrarunning

I promised a more in-depth run report in my post yesterday.

Sunday at 0-dark-thirty, my buddy JS and I started at PA Rt 16 and headed north to Rt 233 at the village of South Mountain, and returned the same route. This cool and handy Appalachian Trail distance calculator pegs it at 10.6 one way, so it was a 21 miler.

The ostensible purpose of the run was to get a bit of headlamp running in on technical trail, but mostly to see the sun rise from Chimney Rock (AKA Buzzard Peak). We began running @ 0430, using headlamps, crossed the Old Forge road around 0530, then trudged up the long, steep hill to Chimney Rock. We got there around 0615, with official sunrise moments away (see here from the U.S. Naval Observatory for sunrise & sunset data for anywhere, any time).

I brought my small pocket Nikon camera for some sunrise photos, then we headed north for the remaining 4 miles to the Rt 233 turnaround.

The main remembrance of the day will be the WATER. The system on Saturday that spawned violent tornadoes across the southeast gave us here in southern PA some high winds and dumped well over 2" of rain. The AT was a soggy mess the morning after, running ankle deep in water in many places. Any little stream was a torrent, and the big stream you cross at the Old Forge shelter was raging.



The East Branch of Antietam Creek at Old Forge Shelter (yes, the Antietam Creek of Civil War fame)...and my best side!

Early on in my ultra career I was paranoid about running with wet feet. Coming from a marathon background--as many of us do--wet feet would appear to be the kiss of death and instantly spawn mega-blisters. Well, I vividly remember my first (accidental) controlled experiment with wet feet. I was trail running near Fort Belvoir, VA, on a business trip there, in the adjacent nature preserve. In crossing a small stream one of my feet slipped and one foot plunged into the water up the calf. The other foot remained dry.

I had to keep on running. Well, within a few minutes, certainly less than mile, the difference between my feet was indistinguishable. I ran another 10 miles or so, and finished the run with no blisters on either foot.

It makes sense when you think about it. Running in the summer, your feet sweat, big time, and I submit that you are running with wet feet anyway. It is obviously true that your feet get more wet when you go thru water, but with today's running shoe technology, the water quickly drains off and you are left with a foot that only is about as wet as it would be from sweating alone.

Monday, April 18, 2011