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 06, 2009

Marion to Table Rock - 30M

Labor Day was approaching and I had a three day weekend with no plans to scale a mountain or run an ultra. I had to figure something out, so I called up the Grad Turk. A plan was devised, committed to, and swiftly executed.

Greg and I rolled up to Marion just after 8am. After taking my morning constitution we made it to Matt’s new pad around 8:30am. It was there we learned that Scott and Liz were still on their way over and we hung out with Matt and Lilly for a while.

Liz, Scoot, Matt, Greg, and I squeeze into a ride and make it to the Woodlawn trailhead on the Mountains to Sea Trail. We were off by 10am, and just kept looking for the white dot. We quickly began to ascend Bald Knob which was a nice climb. 8 miles into the day I stood on top of Bald Knob at noon really feeling the heat. I knew the day would be long.

We then ran down towards the Linville River. This section was very steep, and you were forced to run down whether you wanted to or not, gravitational pull was at work here. As the trail became less steep me and Greg began to see structures, and homes around us. We kept looking for the white dot, but we saw foot prints in the mud along with what we thought were Uhwarrie’s tracks. Finally we reached a road and realized we were off trail. At this point I knew we would be low on water, and the day kept getting warmer and warmer. We asked a nearby homeowner for some H2O and he offered it in the cold form! It tasted great.

As we crossed the Linville River we saw Scott and Liz who apparently also went off trail for a while. It was good that we were all together at this point. Climbing Shortoff Mountain was no easy task in the exposed heat. But we knew that there would be spring at the top, some of us had no water as we ascended.

When we reached the spring it was dry!! What bad luck, we needed water as the heat was roasting us all day long. We attempted to collect droplets of water that would take an hour to fill an entire bottle and kept a hiking pace. We all agreed at this point that we would drop out at Table Rock. The original plan was to continue all the way to Hwy 181. When we finally reached Table Rock we now had to find a way to make it to 181. Scott hitchhiked all the way to the campsite to retrieve our vehicle and pick us back up. We kept walking for few miles from Table Rock to where we were picked up. I was getting cold, so I put my map to use and blanketed it over my shivering body to retain some warmth!

Great adventure, but the heat and lack of water rocked me on this one!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Mt. Mitchell Iftar - Midnight Hike

On the 8th day of Ramadan, in the year 1430 Hijra, four brave souls made the attempt to midnight hike up the highest point east of the Mississippi River, the Black Mountain, more than a billion years old. Later named Mt. Mitchell, it stands highest above all in Appalachia at 6,684 feet.

Before midnight, we drove to the summit, pitched tents, and soaked up the views. Later the clouds rolled in and brought on cooler air that was refreshing compared to the 90+ degree humid heat in Charlotte. As the sun began to set, and our mouths salivated just thinking of food, our other friends Fares and Hazem and company joined in. We grilled burgers, chicken kabob, veggies, and calzone along with other great food. I don’t have any shots of the food because just as it turned 7:55pm a light rain visited. We retreated to the shelter on the summit and began to devour our food. It rained harder, and we all left just before 9pm when the gate closes on Mitchell.

As we retreated to our tents, the rain subsided, and lit a campfire. Four of us remained, Abu Yasir, Amin, Mr. H, and the Sultan. After getting really toasty from the campfire we drove down the Black Mountain Campgrounds, and began our midnight ascent of Mt. Mitchell. Started at 3,000 feet we noticed a considerable difference in temperature, maybe 15-20 degrees warmer. I was the only one who had done this before, many times before, and the rest were rookies. So I decided to move at a slower pace so we could all enjoy the night hike. 3 hours later we made it to the summit, a successful climb, and all were in good spirits. We then walked another mile on asphalt to get back to our summit campsite and went to sleep. All this was done in complete darkness, and we fasted the 9th day of Ramadan the next day.