25 07 2009

Absolute worst headache ever!   I ran a long way on the Sunday before from the takeout of Bear Creek in Cloudland Canyon back to Chattanooga.  This was not a trail run but rather an adventure run through a couple of watersheds and one of the most amazing adventures I have been on. I was feeling pretty tired during the run, but attributed that to trying to keep up with Sam squared.

Who are Sam squared?  As far as I am concerned:

if you don’t know Sam Squared

you should not get to know Sam squared

’cause you wouldn’t understand Sam squared

So stay the f&%$ away from Sam squared

why me, why me

Maybe that is a little overboard, but these two are beasts.  Anyway the run was spectacular, it involved climbing, bouldering, cliff jumping, waterfall climbing, swimming, tresspassing, sightseeing, a stop at a summer camp, bonking, a broken finger, but oddly enough no t-shirt.  If the run had a t-shirt it would have been the most badass t-shirt ever.  As a matter of fact someone could’ve just handed out t-shirts from a Slayer concert, and that would have it almost covered, almost.

After the run I managed to toss all my cookies, 7 or so times, and then I got down to the business of eating and the long drive back to Atl. When I got home, Rinne managed to tell me when she saw me that I looked awful, but her words were much more colorful than that.  I woke up the next day, and felt absolutely awful, but I attributed this to being pulled along by Sam squared.  I went to work, but was about as helpful as (insert own witty comment here)

Cue the Doctors

I went to the Dr, and had my hand xrayed. Result: broken middle finger.  Cool, except I still feel awful and my concern is not the pain in my finger, my body is just aching.  

The nurse tells me my “resting pulse rate is 86, which is a little high.?.”  A little high, for the love of all that is holy, that’s way high, my normal resting pulse rate is below 50.  I am told this is to be expected after my activity form the day before.

I go home,  and immediately climb in bed.  My head is starting to hurt.  I sleep for a bit, but wakeup around 10 and have the worst headache I have ever had.  The pain was all over, and it felt like someone had my head in a vice.  I take 2 tylenol PM hoping my fever will go down, which was somewhere around 102.  I toss & turn until 4 AM when Rinne decides its time to go to the hospital.  I agree, but in my head I am thinking how awful it is that I am having to go to the hospital because of a run gone awry.  Oh Sam squared is going to dig this.  To give you an idea of the pain, I was holding my head and crying by the time I walked into the emergency room it hurt so bad.  I have managed to break 2 fingers, a toe, a kneecap, a foot, all without tears, but this was too much.

Kennestone hospital admitted me with open arms.  I love Kennestone.  I was asked a field of questions, and then given the mighty drug, Dilaudid.

Can you say freelapse!  I can!   Can I get an amen?  This stuff is amazing, really, and if you are addicted to it, let me be the firs to say I understand, and I do not blame you.  No judgements here, you go right ahead and keep on keeping on…

“Oh yeah” the Dr. says, ” we need to do a Spinal Tap.”  A spinal tap?   If you ever need to sober someone up rather quickly, tell them you are going to perform a Spinal Tap on them and make them believe it.   The medical term however is “lumbar puncture,” now there that sounds better, right? Aieeeeeeee.  Spinal tap went all the way to 11 for Viral meningitis.    I’m getting a room!

Flash forward, I am getting discharged a few days later, as the hospital is not the best place for me to be because of possible viruses & staph infections.  I think since I am getting discharged, things are getting better, apparently the virus hangs around more than just a few days.  It has been over a week since I was discharged, & naps seem to be #1 on my priority list.  I have tried running, though not very far & not very fast, and all it made me want to do is sleep when I get home. Speaking of…


Benton MacKaye Trail – Section 5 x 2

15 06 2009

After taking a few weeks off because of  a broken toe, I have decided to attempt to get my running back up to speed, especially if I am going to do something epic on Solstice.   I had originally decided not to go for a solstice adventure , but a friend said, “hey even though my training is not up for it I am not letting that stop me.”  Seems like a valid point, I think.    Solstice is not about me and my training, its about doing something epic twice a year, mainly because you can.  I reserve the right to make changes to what solstice is about depending on how I feel.

Now that has me thinking, if I quit running altogether, epic could be defined as a 10K.  Strategery

Anyway back to this weekends date with a Mr. Benton Mackaye. For those of you who do not know Mr. Mackaye is the gentleman who first proposed that we have an Appalachian Trail in an essay that he wrote in the early 1920’s.  If you are a fan of the outdoors, not just the AT, we owe a lot to this guy. His idea for the trail was not just a long trail, but also as a social experiment.  The social experiment fell to the wayside but the inspiration for a long footpath remained and inspired hikers from Georgia to Maine, to create this highway. 

The path I took today was section 5 of the BMT, from Shallowford Bridge rd to Wilscot Gap. 15.2 miles out & back with 9,268  feet in elevation gain according to my GPS.  That’s a lot of elevation gain and I am not entirely trusting it, but you get the general idea of the ups & downs.  The mountains here are not high, but what they lack in elevation they make up in steepness.  I started the run at a house in Blue Ridge right next to the Toccoa  ElevationBMTrestaurant where the BMT enters the woods for Sedction 6.  I ran along Aska road for about a quarter of a mile, and crossed the river on a bridge, that reminded me of something you would see in Costa Rica, although the wood on this one was not as hearty as on the bridges down there.  After crossing the bridge, there is a tube rental place on the right.  Apparently it is the 2nd city to some other fine tubing establishments in Georiga but a very close second. Fine place, Good Americans, however some of the people hanging out around here look as though they are the type of people who would look for a burrow owl in a tree.   I was however offered a ride with some people since they said it looked like we were headed down the same path.   Oh, I how do hope they were only referring geographical positioning.  I declined the offer, and kept moving up the gravel road looking for the BMT to cut into the woods, and after enjoying a relatively flat course, I started my first climb.  The beginning of the climb was not so bad, and I started to think, this is going to be an easy day in the woods. 

turtleThis line of thinking of course did not continue, it came to an abrupt halt about a mile and half into the run.  I was able to find a pace and settled into it. Granted the pace was incredibly slow, it did allow me to notice this guy & fly past him.  I saw one of his or her cousins later into the run, but with more yellow markings.  I also scared  a grouse along the trail, who in turned spooked the hell out of me, frickin nature.   Around mile 5 I crested Brawley mountian where there is an old, I mean really olde,  firetower that has been converted into a repeater for transmitters and was covered with signs saying there may be some frequencies that are harmful to humans here.  Duly noted, and I decided this would be a poor place to tresspass.  After Brawley mountain there is a steep downhill and then an uphill to Tipton before a steep descent to Highway 60 at Wilscot Gap. 

One thing to be noted about this trail, if you are running with the hopes of long range views, they are not to be found on this trail, especially during the summer.  Foliage is jungle-esque.  With that being said, the forest is rather mature in some parts and undergrowth is minimal, except for a sea of ferns.  The sides along some of the trails descending down to Highway 60 are are about 80 degrees leading into deep, dark coves.  There are also plenty of areas to rehydrate just a few hundred feet from the trail if you do not want to carry too much with you.

ropeNow the most important part of the run was very very close to the end.  The last half mile return to Aska is along the Toccoa, and as soon as you come out of the woods if you hang a left instead of just finishing your run, and go for a bout a fifth of a mile you come to a killer rope swing straight into a nice chilly Toccoa.  This is the best way to end a run.  I am thinking about going back next week and just running to the rope swing and spending the day there.  Solstice spent on a rope swing… I see an orthopedist in my future.

“If these people were on the skyline, and kept their eyes open, they would see the things that the giant could see.”
– Benton MacKaye, 1921

New baseline for technical- The Cumberland Trail

10 02 2009

I have been wanting to hike into North Chick since I first ran it in a kayak about 14 years ago and scared myself nearly to death.  I had been back several times since for paddling and a little light hiking ,swimming around the bowling alley section but this  would be the first real attempt of the gorge as a trail-run.

Here is a view of the area and the gulch.

Click here to learn a little more about the  Cumberland trail in the North Chick Gorge

Elevation Profile for Cumberland Trail

The run started at the take out for the river in the the old Bowater pocket wilderness parking lot. There is a nice climb in the beginning but I was so stoked about being out there and the amazing views  that I did not even notice it, and the first real climb came in around mile 1, and you will without a doubt notice it.  Not only is it nice and steep; it is so close to the Bowater parking lot that there are other people out there attempting to hike it with cigarettes and small children in hand, at the same time mind you.  Also I figured it would be relatively easy to pass them given the circumstances, however as family units they proved capable of moving up the mountain at a decent clip.  But I was not deterred and eventually was able to overtake them and keep cruising up the trail.

Now the trail itself, while being nice and steep,  is part of Walden’s ridge and the cumberland plateu, so after the initial climb there are no more major climbs unlike the Blue Ridge mountains to the east that I am more used to running. This I thought was going to be a nice reprieve, however I forgot to factor in the stresses of tiny hills.

img_0173In addition to the small hills this is one of the most technical trails I have been on to date. I should have just run the creek bed for as many rocks as I encountered.  The Cumberland trail follows an old road for the first mile or so that has been washed away leaving many of the rocks exposed, but then the real technical parts are under the cliff line.

It was almost like a video game, not a new video game but something like Pitfall ala Intellivision.  Some large plate rocks you would step on and they would be as solid as bedrock, while others would teeter and shift.  You could not tell which ones would move by looking at them, so it was random guessing and hopping, hoping for the best.  I wound up on the ground several times laughing; but with none of the cool sound effects from Pitfall.

img_0186In addition to the technical challenges,the trail is poorly marked.  Sure you can spray paint and write your name on the walls at your leisure, but apparently marking for purposes other than declaring your love for Lurleen are not encouraged.  Just so Rinne, does not feel unloved, I promise upon my next visit, to bring a can of spraypaint so Southeast Tennessee knows how much I truly care for you.  I apologize for not being able to do so this time around. It will not happen again, because I am purchasing a pocket size can of spray paint for such occasions.

LaddersAnyway, I missed the trail turns a few times and had to do some backtracking along the cliff-lines, and came to something I though was only reserved for trails in Canada.  Being the litigous society that we are I did not think a stater recreation area would allow these things, but I am grateful that they do.

When you climb this set of stairs and ladders, you reach one of the coolest views on the trail, but be careful there are no rails to keep you from getting becoming part of the view.  You can play around with the view by clicking here. (If you think google earth is cool you will enjoy this, you can pan around with the view and switch to aerial.)

I took in the view and got a little to close to the edge on a wobbly rock… boooo!  After that I decided to take in the views while holding onto trees.   After this overlook you are along an old road for about a mile, passing an old mine, and then you drop back down into the gorge (if you are following the trail) and follow the middle cliff line with the super technical rocks.  I however, chose a different path, that led me to some amazing waterfalls, one which you cross with the aid of a cable, which is absolutely necessary unless you are Spiderman.

I kept cranking along and I kept losing the trail.  I thought it would follow the cliff lines at certain points, but it would meander off into the woods, and other times there were obvious trails into the woods, but as it turns out the Cumberland  trail would follow the cliff line and not the obvious path.  Lesson learned.

I definetly want to go back and explore this trail again soon. The views are amazing, and it is going to be great for swimming when it warms up in the summer.  In addition there are a plethora of waterfalls, and even areas for water bouldering, if you are willing to turn your run into a multi-sport adventure day.


You ain’t nothing but a hoochie mama– hoodrat hoodrat

4 01 2009

Ok, so maybe this is not what they were talking about.  Went to the Chattahoochee for a longer run on Saturday and managed to get in 16 miles, although it took close to 2:45.  It is nice to be able to leave my house and drive for about 3 miles and be able to run on trails for 16 miles or so.  I am not sure who says Atlanta is not much of an outdoor town, but they would be dead wrong.  I saw a gaggle of geese, 3 blue heron, one really large person (but hey they were out there giving it), and two park rangers, one of whom I met recently under good circumstances.    His name is Will Overton, and if you come across him in the park say hello.  I do not think you will come across people who love this park more than the rangers.  

As I was coming back up the river on the left bank near a formation called the Marietta Mangler there was a horrible smell.  NOt the normal horrible hooch smell we are used to, but something with a little extra emphasis.  It is awful.  This is about a 1/4 mile downstream from Ray’s on the river.  When I went back under 285 I found the rangers at the park and reported it.   I told them I thought a septic tank was ruptured or something.  I wish you could have seen their faces.  They looked like I had told someone their dog had died.  There was true disappointment that the park they work & play in everyday is being even more polluted than it already is.  They thanked me and were off to check it out.  

It felt good to have a run in with a park ranger and not be scolded because my dog is not on a leash.  Good thing the dogs can not make the long runs anymore or this situation could have been entirely different.   No matter, the run was good and I felt as though I had accomplished something other than a long run by reporting a sewage leak into the river. 

I have to work today so I missing the Fatass!!!!  ARRRGGGGHHH- good luck to all those participating.

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!
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.