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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Misty Mountain

Lynnea's New Glasses
Fall is rising upon the High Country. The leaves continue to hold their brilliant green but the winds have shifted. Back to the gentle, crisp breeze, the deepness of the blue skies and the passing through of steel grey clouds overhead.

These are the days when you can run without much planning. No major threat of lightning, oppressive heat or being froze to the core. The summer has allowed adaptation to heat giving the fall an advantage over the spring in this way. This is the season for travelling dirt roads, passing split rail fences, chasing newly relocated herds of cattle as they graze on the abundant grasses of the growing seasons.

Getting Away With It
Last night I arrived home after a dulling day at the desk. Lynnea suggested I take a jaunt and I didn't argue. Rather than heading into the woods per usual, I dusted off my neglected road Sauconys and pointed my nose down the driveway and toward the road. My first road miles since July 7th... and June 23rd before that...

I've been noticing a lack of stride length and strength and ability to simply carry momentum on any straight stretches. My intuition has been honing in on the lack of road mileage as a main contributor to this gradual loss of stride inertia. While the trail is great for lateral agility there is nothing like the road to build stamina; both physical and mental.

Grady Hill Loop 
Reaching the end of the drive I turned right and downhill beyond the barn for a quarter mile before the attitude of Peoria Rd. makes an abrupt change. Here a 2 minute aggressive and imposing climb, all laid out before your fresh eyes and yet-to-completely-warm-up-legs which have had all downhill steps thus far.

The Rise
After the initial shock to the system the hill does level a bit and becomes a great dirt ramp toward views of the Bethel Valley near the Tennessee border and the Cherokee National Forest atop the ridge.

This quiet corner of North Carolina is infused with small farms, chicken coops, friendly dogs and old folks rocking their days away out on the front porch... they often give a quizzical wave as they see me running by.

Last night though, it was quiet. Just the misty air of fall, my labored breathe, the crunching of Sauconys on gravel... Despite the lack of mileage I was pleased to see that while feeling a bit over my head on the climbs- I was hitting the usual spots in the usual times. After 20 minutes I reached the apex and made the left handed turn onto Grady Hill Rd.

The Fall
Passing the old spring enclosure I recalled the hot days of summer when I might stop here and cool off with the fresh, cold spring water. Downhill the roads winds, left and right and steep. All that elevation slaloms and is gone in 9 minutes of heavily forested hardwoods. Nobody drives this back road so it feels like my own personal route for its duration.

Sylas Settling Down
At 3.5 miles I return to Peoria Rd. and am back on the pavement. A few small inclines as the road gently rolls toward home. I run by homesteads from the 1800's, I revisit the mules in the field. I take in the idyllic views above the Watauga River watershed as it courses hundreds of feet below toward the Appalachian Trail.

The Climax
A final push uphill takes me to my cool down stretch where I run along the shoulder of the road overlooking my home. There below, through the acres of  Frasier Fir, I see Goliath, Lily and Aster running in the yard. They see me to and jump and dash at my return!

The End
Down the gravel driveway, the crunch of small stones underfoot. The breeze flows through the limbs of the laden apple tree. A nibbling doe looks up, drops her meal and darts to the treeline to observe the "visitor".

I walk inside and see Lynnea putting Sylas to bed. He looks up and smiles into me before he lays down for the night.

Happy Running.

My Beautiful Lynnea (sans glasses) w/ Aster


  1. nice story and pics. sounds like one rewarding jaunt...and yeah, Sylas is a lil' heartthrob, even with that getup ;)

  2. That's a great loop. Very cool bro.

  3. Love those glasses on Lynnea! :)


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