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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Long Run Report- Appalachian Trail

Laurel Falls, higher water
Saturday morning I headed west to Tennessee to get in a 3 hour run on the Appalachian Trail. This is my longest to date in the build up to Boston and surely the most amount of climbing I have seen in a long while. The trail head is on Hwy 321 in Hampton, TN and sets out immediately toward Laurel Falls as the connector meets the AT at about 1 mile.

Early on the trail is very rocky and you are up close and personal with the Elk River at several points. Sometimes this means crossing a footbridge and on a few occasions you are traversing the edge of a rock step. Fortunately, with the early onset of spring (??) there was no ice to deal with. I settled in early and ran under control to reach Laurel Falls.

A Geocache on the climb
After a few moments enjoying the view I turned to run onward up the 6 minute staircase. The steps are about 6 inches too high for aerobic running so a great chance to develop some power in the stride during a long run. The footing is technical too... I hope to have some video available later tonight or tomorrow. It usually happens that I will run into hikers descending here who have remarks about the mind frame of runners- you know you have heard these comments yourself, many times... they always make me smile for numerous reasons.

Cabin at Dennis Cove
After reaching the spine and running back off its backside, Dennis Cove is just a straight stretch away and now with warm up completed, the real fun begins. From here you climb for 40 minutes steady. In this section you'll pass the cabin and then near the top of this first section you come upon a Geocache which has nothing but shreds of paper every time I have checked it. But- I am here for what is outside the box. The journey there and beyond.

The View from the top of this world!
From here you continue upwards and undulating between and over steeper knobs, in staircase formation, for another 30 minutes. Soon you reach the apex and drop off the backside of the ridge to amazing views (rare as they are on the AT) of Roan Mountain. On this day I sat and took in my one gel for the day and enjoyed the views both near and far while sitting on a sun warmed rock. Isn't this a true luxury of spring:)

I hated to leave... and it took me a moment to convince myself to...

Lacy Trap Intersection
After another 10 minutes onward, I reached Lacy Trap (there is a joke there...) Trail intersection and decided this was a good place to turn and head home. I was about 2/3 of the way through my 22 ounces of water... so time to head home. With lots of technical steps ahead and already 45 minutes into the unknown (by the end of the run) for the training cycle, it is best to finish in one piece and leave some mystery for the next time!

Halfway up!!
The return trip was very enjoyable. All that ascending gave back in swooping downhill on soft leaf covered single track. The effortless foot falls brought all sorts of perma-smile to my face.

I followed this run with another climbing run on Monday on the Grandfather Mountain Profile Trail:) Use the link for FB pictures of that journey and while you are there check out all the photos from this AT adventure!! Spring is in the air around here... (but they are saying snow on Monday).

Happy running!!


  1. So sweet! My old 'stomping grounds' for years. I can't tell you how many trout I've caught in Laurel Creek! And have hiked there 100s of times but have never run it! Sounds like I need to! Thanks for the memories!

  2. Wow, that is a beautiful track! And the elevation will serve you well in Boston. Great report!

  3. Wow! This is a must-do run. It has evrything including a waterfall. Great pictures!

  4. nice dreamy spring climb...too funny re: fb pics. i saw a baby and someone in red sox uniform...i take it Sylas is in training for baseball season already...i would have thought that he'd be training for Boston too :)

  5. Very cool! Great photos, too. If you can handle that, then Boston will be no problem, man!

  6. That's a stretch of the AT I've never been on. I've done an 80 mile stretch in Virginia though.

    I've been injured (IT band) but am hoping I'm on the home stretch and will be running again very soon.

  7. Absolutely incredible! My dream run...or hike.
    You are one very lucky runner to have that so close to you!
    Great tour for those of us who only dream about this Trail.


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