Warning: the following words and images will allow you to vicariously see the world with the eyes of Sultan. Read at your own risk. The name Sultan has many meanings, but derives from the peak Sultan Mountain in Silverton, CO!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Midnight Marathon - Dupont

The weather was perfect for running. Not too hot, not cold, just right. We were 9, and we set off to run a marathon at midnight on trail. A fine trail I will add. We traced the DuPont Marathon course which I have run now 4 times, all midnight marathons! I don’t even know what that place looks like during the day. I hear its really beautiful. Every time I run this marathon its on a full moon at midnight.

The clouds covered the moon at the start and we head lamped it. Running at night was refreshing this time of the year as it gets very hot and humid during the day in North Carolina. It was 70 degrees at the start, dark and calm, and it felt great. We started at 12:01am. After running for an hour and a half you could see the clouds moving in slow motion and get bits and pieces of a large full round moon.

On the DuPont marathon course you run an old unmaintaned airstrip. It was here that I saw a full large moon that was crisp in the mountain night. I could feel myself drawing energy from this majestic sight and I ran harder.

We finished the run and drove back to Charlotte just as the sun came up.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Cold Mountain

The hike up to Cold Mountain started in the beautiful area known as the black balsam balds off of the Blue Ridge Parkway on the Art Leob trail.

The Black Balsam area includes some of the most spectacular mountain balds in the Southern Appalachians, including Black Balsam Knob, Sam Knob, and Tennent Mountain. These treeless mountaintops draw people from all over due to their sweeping views and alpine-like appearance.

After hiking past the balds and thru Ivestor Gap, we reached Shining Rock. Named for the white quartzite rock that forms its summit, Shining Rock stands at 5,940 feet. Shining Rock Ledge, which forms the backbone of the area, boasts five peaks over 6,000 feet, the highest being Cold Mountain at 6,030 ft.

From Shining Rock we headed towards Cold Mountain. As we approached, the trail turned more technical and more overgrown. Climbing up Cold Mountain was certainly not easy to do. Although it was cooler at the top, it surely was not cold this day. After 9 mile of hiking we reached the summit of Cold Mountain and enjoyed lunch and headed back the same way.

The day turned out to be a beautiful day in the woods.

Friday, June 22, 2007

New York City Marathon

I'm in.

37,869 people ran the NYC marathon last year and finished. To run this race you must have a qualifying time (just over 3 hours for my age group) or enter into a lottery and be selected. Over 98,000 people applied for the lottery. Running a 7:15 min/mile pace for 26.2 miles is out of the question for now, and I'm glad the lottery worked out the second time around for me.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Roan Mountain Marathon

As we drove up the steep road to Carvers Gap my windshield wipers couldn’t move fast enough to clear the rain pouring. We parked the cars and were off on the trail by 7:15am. The rain kept coming, and then it rained in intervals for the next 8 miles. We were off to highway 19E where we were meeting a group of 30 hikers from Charlotte. From Carvers Gap to 19E is 13 miles and round trip would be the first annual Roan Mountain Marathon!

This hike is planned around the Rhododendron blooming season. Although they bloomed early this year, the pink shrub was out and about. The view from Round Bald to Janes Bald was especially pink as the Rhododendron had bloomed all along the mountain. The word Rhododendron is derived from the Greek words: rhodos, "rose", and dendron, "tree.” This is an alpine shrub and usually survives in higher elevations.

The trail was muddy and slick. Some sections of the single track was very technical. While raining and going downhill it became a little dangerous to run. I made it to 19E in 2:51 minutes and met with our group of hikers that were planning on hiking back up to Carvers Gap. I had a bottle of Ensure and Gatorade Rain stashed at 19E. After refueling I headed back up with the group the same trail I just ran down, this time mostly uphill. We hiked up to Hump Mountain and saw the largest long horn cattle I have ever seen. They must have weighed atleast 3,000 lbs each. There were a dozen of them casually chewing grass and just lying around. At this point I decided to get moving again and went for a slow pace run and passed the group.

I didn’t realize how steep some of the sections of this trail were coming down until I headed right back up. Going up to the Grassy Ridge Bald (6,189 feet) which ended up being the highest point of this run/hike was so steep I was forced to a sluggish hiking pace. This section of the trail is a little over a mile and climbs 1800 feet. The view from the top of Grassy Ridge is worth the effort. The sun broke out and the clouds cleared. I slowed my pace here to enjoy the amazing views. Finally I reached Carvers Gap my original starting point, cleaned up a bit and drove home.

Click on map below to enlarge.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Mt. Sterling

This past Sunday me and a group of friends drove up to the Northeast side of the Smokey Mountains for a quick ascent of Mt. Sterling. The rhododendron had blossomed early and was plentiful.

The weather was great (a little warm) and the views were amazing at the summit. We ended the day with a dip into Midnight Hole, a swimming area near the end of the trail. There were too many people there as the weather was perfect for a swim.

Just before reaching the parking lot we spotted a timber rattler snake, a rare find.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Mt. Mitchell Ascent

This past Sunday I got back into the woods on the hills again after MMT. We hiked up the usual route from the Black Mountain Campgrounds up towards Commissary Ridge and to the summit and back. Me and Greg enjoyed a hot cup of chocolate and coffee. The weather was windy at the top with a temperature of 58 degrees. With the wind however it felt more like 40. Mt. Mitchell is the coldest and windiest place in the entire South.

Along the hike we found a Red Newt. It was the first time I saw this tiny creature. We ascended at a fast pace, from the campgrounds to the top in 1:52. Technically we are not allowed to go to the summit, that was to the parking lot.

We did get briefed on the new watch tower the park is building. The structure is now framed up and expected to be completed by September of 2007. The old tower was torn down about 10 months ago.