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.