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!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Clingmans to Davenport

The Smokies is always a great place to visit, and running the section of the AT from Clingmans Dome to Davenport Gap I have only done once before. The weather was warmer than last and I started in temperatures just under 80 degrees only to get warmer for the next few hours. This is very warm for the Smokies. I walked up the half mile paved path to the summit of Clingmans and headed Northeast on the AT. I started at 9:05am. With in a few minutes I ran into a group of volunteers working on the trail. This would happened a dozen more times as they were working on the entire section I was running. What a great way to give back to something you cherish.

I arrived into Newfound Gap in 1:45, and took a 10 min break to take care of some business. I was surprised to see that the bathrooms at Newfound Gap had been renovated. There are no longer sinks there, just toilets and hand sanitizers. So don’t rely on getting any water here unless you drop it.

As the day warmed up, the bugs were evident on the trail. I had to dodge some of them out of the way in order to avoid getting them in my eyes, nostrils, or swallow them. I was drinking more water than normal and I knew I would have to refuel sooner rather than later. I was carrying 4 liters with me at the start. This was completely self supported, so you had to carry everything you need for the entire 37 mile section. You can refill water from the spring along the way at the shelters.

I started this hike/run with 8 other people. 7 of which were attempting to hike 24 miles. 4 from Newfound gap to Cosby Campgrounds, 3 from Cosby Campgrounds to Newfound gap, 1 was attempting from Newfound gap to Davenport gap (31 miles), and I was going from Clingmans to Davenport gap (37 miles). The logistics were a little tricky, but with a few that volunteered to hike in the opposite direction, and with a car drop, we were on our way to a well planned adventure. The group of 7 hikers had started 1 to 2 hours before me from Newfound gap or from Cosby, and I was 7 miles away from where they were starting. I eventually reached them at Pecks Shelter which is where I needed to refuel and refill water (4:45pm).

For future reference, I don’t recommend filling up water from this shelter, it’s almost a mile off the trail round trip. Fill up at Tricorners which is much easier and faster to get to. I spent about 40 min eating my turkey sandwich I brought along, and filling up all 4 liters again, hiking up and down to the spring. I wanted to keep moving because I still had another 20 miles to go, I wasn’t even half way!

At this point I was hiking a healthy pace up the hills, and shuffling the flats, and running the downhill’s. The last climb of Mt. Cammerar was the longest. I finished in 10:37, a 21 min improvement from last time. I ate approximately 1,700 calories which included a bag of honey mustard pretzels, a turkey sandwich, 2 energy bars, 2 mango gu’s, and several ginger chew’s. I burned 7,775 calories, and drank all 8 liters of water, it was hot.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Weekend in the Black Mountains

Saturday I made it back out to the Linville Gorge. I was wearing a heavier pack, and the weight was something I felt in my legs. We started on the Connelly Cove trail which descends into the gorge and crosses a bridge. The vegitation was thick and was growing fast. If I was hiking down the gorge this way again, I wouldnt wear shorts. My legs got chewed up. From there we ascended the Little Table Rock trail which is steep. The weather was warmer than I have been used to this year. The breeze was refreshing at the summit of Table Rock. Here we had lunch and enjoyed the beautiful weather and views. We then descended back down to the river and swam in the water which felt perfect. Hiking back up to the car I walked past a loose rock and fell over a steep ledge. Luckily a sturdy tree branch caught me and prevented me from falling further down. Other than a few scrapes I was good to go. The fact that I have been running more than hiking with weight was evident in my speed and ability. I will be focusing more on pack training and starting to do more heavy weight hiking to better prepare myself for Mt. Elbrus.

Sunday I was back out in the Blacks. I was leading a group of 9 hikers up Mt. Mitchell from the Black Mountain Campgrounds. This is an 11 mile round trip ascent, and truly never gets boring. The weather at the top was 53 degrees about 20 degrees cooler than the campground. We lost about 5 degrees every 1,000 feet of elevation gain. On the return I lied in the South Toe river to cool off.