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!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Table Rock to Montreat - 39 Miles

Table Rock to Montreat is a run from the summit of Table Rock that follows the Mountain to Sea Trail to the Black Mountain Campgrounds and then is run down to the city of Montreat. Planned and organized by Adam Hill, a friend, and an unltramarathoner. Many thanks to the volunteers that helped with the aid station and with the entire logistics of putting on a long distance point to point run.

After meandering our way thru the gravel roads that lead to Table Rock, we all unloaded our gear and started packing essentials for the night and everything we needed for the next morning.

Nine runners and a few volunteers all hiked up to the summit of Table Rock (3,680 feet). It was a perfect night, the stars were bright. After seeing a shooting star, and Brown Mountain light up a few times I shut my eyes and passed out around midnight. We woke up at 5:30am, gathered everything, and at 6am started running back down the mountain. Our cars were along the way which is where I dropped off my sleeping bag and pad. We continued along the Mountains to Sea trail (MST). It would be 11 miles before we would reach our first aid station.

The views along the ridge off of Table Rock in the morning made me feel like I was out West. As the sun started to rise, and faint red glow was painted along the horizon. We headlamped it for the first hour. I wasn’t expecting it to be so hot before the sun came up, I remember being drenched in sweat as we passed Chimney Gap and the sun wasn’t even up yet! Approaching Shortoff Mountain (2,880 feet) I couldn't help but notice how much of the forest had burned. The trail blazes and the trail itself was also burned, making the route difficult to find at times. My legs, and arms were black with char all over my body. We descended steeply down Shortoff and climbed towards Pinnacle were the green forest came back to life. We climbed 1,200 feet in less than a mile to reach the top of Pinnacle (2,400 feet). Atlast the first aid station! I needed some calories and certainly needed to fill up my bottles.

After refueling, me and Marc descended down the Overmountain Victory trail for a short while, then turned left on a gravel road. It was here I kept telling myself that this would be a long day, and not to push myself too hard. I alternated the running with some brisk hiking, it was becoming very hot. I then passed Dobson Knob (3,440 feet) and then Bald Knob (3,495 feet), kept going up and down. I was rationing my water as I knew I still had to pound out a few miles. I had been running alone for the past 2 hours at this point. When I reached a set of train tracks I made the mistake of turning as I remember seeing a sign to the left. This was a mistake. I ran and hiked down the train tracks for half a mile in the exposed sun. I realized there must be something wrong and decided to take a water break and sit down in the shade and pull out my map. I could hear and see the river, and I made it out in the map. I decided at this point to start bushwhacking back to the trail. I had already lost too much precious time, and I needed to get to the next aid as I didn’t have much water left. I picked up to sticks and used them to cut thru some of the vegetation while trying to cross. I crossed the river, again getting my feet wet. Then crossed a nasty swamp and climbed up some steep section which is where I heard voices. I started to yell out and sure enough it was Rob. I started whacking more vegetation trying to get closer to his voice. I made it back to the trail, but now out of water and exhausted. I took a sip of water from Rob and kept moving, we still had another mile and half to the next aid. After crossing a 5 lane highway (221) I finally reached the second aid station. I drank a cold coke which never tasted so good. Ate a cheese sandwich and took my socks and shoes off. I had another pair of socks I would put on. At this point I was ready to drop out of the run. After taking a 15 minute break, Rob talked me into getting back on the trail. We had run 26 miles at this point, well if you factor all the bushwhacking, maybe 27, and the next section would be another 13 miles, much of it uphill. I was up for the challenge, re-laced my shoes and pushed on.

We walked passed Grassy Knob (1,800 feet) pulled the map out a few times to find out way up to Woods Mountain (3,646 feet). We turned left and ridge hiked after passing Woods and alternated with the running and fast hiking. It was here we met Marc again on the trail and kept moving as a group of three now. Then just a mile before John a volunteer met us out on the trail with Gatorade. Wow, I was relieved. I had been practicing Sip Control Management for the past 3 hours. This was a strict policy of one sip every 12 minutes. If I took in more than that, I would go dry and suffer miserably with the heat. So when I saw the cold blue Gatorade that John brought out and he was giving it out to us, I guzzled down when I had and refilled my bottle of water. He told us we had 30 min, which also psyched me out, so we kept pushing. I ran to the end until I got to the BRP and Hwy 80. I was beat up, dehydrated, but very happy I had gone this far. The temperatures must have been in the 90’s and going for 40 miles and climbing no less than 8,000 feet was a difficult task for me to do. All runners dropped out at this point.

No comments: