To all who have not experienced the AT near Roan Mountain--> must immediately plan their next ultra adventure to run the 27+ miles (out and back).
On Saturday, I woke early in Asheville, and I rode north & west to the base of Roan Mountain to join the other runners for our start on the AT. It was warm when we started, and I had some trepidation about the run because of my lack of training and the early heat. An aside: another runner asked me early on - what I was training for, and I instantly knew - while I was not training for a specific race, I was training to regain lost confidence. I had lost confidence, in part, because of my performance at Twisted Ankle - the feeling of being overheated, dehydrated, and humbled...
We began at 7am. The first 2-3 miles (and the last 26-?) were my favorite. We hiked up about 500-1000 feet to a series of balds, which were slightly runnable. The rhododendron were in full bloom; the air was clean, and the views were spectacular. It reminded me of my running in Colorado, and I was invigorated. We proceeded to a 3rd bald (I forget the names) where we started our descent. We descended through some thick forest areas to a section of the AT, which crosses another trail - again, I cannot remember the name, which goes to a farm preserve and towards TN... This part of the AT is also where there is a nice open shelter, which is visible from higher up. This part of the AT has special meaning to me. This is where my husband and I took some pictures for our Save the Date cards.
We continued on the AT to hike up again towards the mountains named: Little Hump and Big Hump. Again, these peaks - have significance. I have been coming to this area of NC for about 15 years, and I have hiked to these peaks numerous times. I have seen them in the snow, the fall when the colors paint their sides illustriously, and in their summer bloom (albeit little b/c they are balds). When we arrived at the section before we started climbing to little hump, it took all my energy not to call out in glee. I felt at home. Each step and each view were like visiting an old friend. I felt light and joyous and as though I was home. Again, the tops of these mountains are balds, which have are interesting, in part, because ecologists in the area have conflicting reasons as to why they don't have trees.
We continued past Big Hump and started our descent towards 19E. We returned to the trees, and I missed the balds - although I have say it was nice to be out of the sun. We descended for many miles down, and the feeling of the legs turning over was enjoyable. We ended up at the half way point - the intersection of 19E where a volunteer had set up the best aid station. We had watermelon; we had GORP; we had water; there was so much food.
After filling up and resting and bringing down our body temperatures, we began our ascent and our return to the base of Roan Mountain.
Overall, one of the best runs I have ever done; it was beautiful and welcoming and such a lovely day.
Thanks to all who volunteered and put in time to bring all of us together.
Update: check out www.wnctrailrunner.wikispaces.com