Winter Solstice… sort of

21 12 2008
  • Distance- 30.9 miles
  • Time: 8 hours and 45 minutes
  • Participants: Janice, Trevor, Robert and ladies & gentleman the Reverend Craig Anderson,

It was pointed out to me on the drive up to the trailhead for the Duncan Ridge, that this was now officially “Reeve’s Day BEFORE Solstice run,” and my partners in crime wanted to know why they even joined me.  Good question… but all shall be revealed in time.

I awoke at 4 am, and immediately began the process of breakfast, & Trevor joined me shortly after.  I made as much noise as possible (according to my wife) while prepping breakfast.  I on the other hand, thought I was displaying my mad ninja like qualities of domestic morning duties.  Anyway she mumbled something to me about the dog, and I was out the door on my way over to Janice’s for a 5 am rendezvous(that’s a ninja term for those of you that are unlearned).  We loaded the car and soon we were on our way to the three forks trail head, but first we had to stop at our sponsor QT and acquire a few more provisions; pringles, chocolate milk, gator-ade, peanuts, water, and I believe someone even got a can of skoal, so we would not stand out anymore than we already did with the hunters.   Craig showed off his skills as the mad navigator/crewman. As a runner, I now know the most valuable piece of gear is a Craig.  I do not think you can get them anymore, and I am positive this was the last of a series, but if one ever pops up on ebay, Bid and bid high!

We reached the trailhead just before dawn and met a couple hunters. They asked how far we were going, and someone mentioned 30 miles.  It was still kind of dark, but I think he shook his head, mumbled something and he was off into the woods, luckily in the opposite direction of us.We waited until there was enough light to head out without lights and we were off.  Below is the elevation profile of what happened next.

Duncan ridge Profile

Duncan ridge Profile

This was my first solstice event where other people would be joining me for the duration of the day, which mentally changed things for me.  The challenge I had put before myself, was now being taken on as a group, which raised my level I believe of completing it.  Plus was a little fun having a few catholics (yes “catholic” is not capitalized, here… forgive me father for I have sinned) participate in a pagan ritual.
….
The trail started off moderately enough and my stomach was feeling great.  I am pretty proud of myself for getting my nutrition dialed in and not feeling as if my stomach was trying to crawl outside of my body. We crested the first peak at about mile 2, a nice grassy bald, and posed for a couple of pics, and I took in the first long range views that the Duncan Ridge trail provides.  It was a dark, grey day but you could see for miles & miles, and included in those miles and miles were several of the ridges we would be climbing, today is going to be great!
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We headed downhill from there and were treated to some nice views and a steep decline, to our first aid station at about mile 8 where we were met by  a smiling Craig.  He had been rally driving the hills of North Georgia and as fast as a man with a pretty mouth has to in these parts.  We reloaded on fuel and crossed the Toccoa, at possibly one of the most over engineered bridges I have ever seen.  I could not believe such a bridge existed just for a trail.  I am becoming a big fan of the forest service.
We saw a couple more hunters after leaving the bridge, and they were in just as much awe of the bridge as I was.  I think its kind of interesting, as far away as I am from being a hunter, how much we share in our passion for the outdoors.  Now there are some fundamental differences, but there is no denying how much they value the forest.
We crested the ridge and were met by Craig, again (are you beginning to see the value in a Craig yet? Add to not only his generous support of us but he kept me & Trevor laughing for most of the day).  Trevor got off the train at this point, as he had styled the first part of the run without doing further damage to his foot and was not intent on doing so.  We refueled, as I rummaged through my bag looking for  food it finally hit me what Corinne had said earlier in the morning  about the dogs, “he ate your Clif bars.”  MOTHER of Pearl.   Janice shared her pringles, and I downed an Enervitene, quite an interesting mix.
….
I was ready to go and in my mind I was thinking, in theory this is one of the most difficult trails in Georgia and I am feeling great, this is not so hard, I am  CHAMPION.
I was told this weekend, by someone with the social skills of a rock that I enjoy conflict, and while I disagree with how she intended it, I can see a little bit of conflict here, or what my seventh grade literature teacher introduced to me as Irony.  I much prefer the word Irony, and witnessed a healthy dose of it the rest of the day.
The climb after mile 12 was grueling.  The ridges allowed me to truly understand the Sisyphus myth, sans rock.  I was amazed at the beauty of the trail and baffled by the topography.  Who in God’s name designed this trail, I want to see the quads on this person.   At about mile 16, I got off trail for a little bit, searching for the blaze.  My misadventure took me down the side of the mountain, until I heard an “on on” form the top of the mountain.  Crikey, I have to climb that hill again.
The good thing about the Duncan Ridge roller coaster is that it does allow you to find some sort of rhythm.  Up, down, up down, up down.   The profile, may look like a cokeheads EKG, but there is a cadence in there and I felt like I found it. For the first time on a long run, I was really good about nutrition and never once did I feel dehydrated or hungry, or desalinated. We made it to the next aid station, at about mile 23 and was greeted by Craig & Trevor,
“what took you so long?  It was only a 10K!!!”
….
I have a whole new respect for those who participate in 10ks now.  If you can finish the Peachtree in under an hour you are CHAMPION.  Rob got off the train here and Janice and I got back on for another stupid ascent.  This trail was not holding back any punches, and was landing each one it threw squarely.  At one point the DRT intersects with Duncan ridge road and parallels it all the way to Wolfpen Gap.  Someone had mentioned this earlier in the day, and I did not give it much thought, however when I saw it there was no question in my mind that I was going to be a roadrunner for part of the day. The road itself is a challenging run and we still managed some good ascents & descents, but on much better footing the rest of the day.  There was a good bit of walking involved for this section and at one point were passed by some people in Jeeps offroading it enjoying the outdoors and Duncan ridge is a slightly different way than us.  I was suddenly jealous, and wanted my own ORV (hunter orange of course), with flames on the side, a boar’s head as a hood ornament, a booming system so all the wild animals in North Georgia knew to get back because they do not know me like that, and case of beer for good measure.
We made it to Wolf Pen gap, and decided that for the Day Before Solstice Run this distant would suffice.  The original plan was to make it to Neel’s Gap, however I was worried we would not be able to do this and still have daylight, so our crew hurried us along to get changed and get in the friggin car.  I know Chopper would have been disappointed in us, but I felt great about our run.  The DRT in its completion may have to be a summer mission, or to add to the theme an equinox event. Either way this trail is worth the effort.
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4 responses

28 12 2008
LenThompson

Good show old boy, wish I could have joined you!

28 12 2008
David Ray

Nice run! Gotta love the rolling aid stations.

29 12 2008
Spurgeon Hendrick

Sounds like a great run! Wish I could have been there!

30 12 2008
Rockman

Dude, This is fucking funny. Nice work. Drop me a line if you want to hook up at Soap Creek some time.

Rockman

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