Adam Hill puts on many fun runs throughout the year. This is the 3rd year for the Rattle My Heart, and my first time! The weather could not have been better, with temperatures going above 50 degrees. I am running the Mitchell Challenge next week, and wanted to get some live views, and a test run on part of that trail.
Matt and Carl both started the night before at 8pm from Marion. Pulling a coyote run all night in the cold, and sloppy trail conditions. It took them just over 13 hours to reach us in Montreat by Lake Susan, 30 miles from where they started. They looked a little beat up, but a few calories, and a change of cloths got them going again. They are training for an adventure called the Barkleys! The rest of us started at Lake Susan. My plan was to go the entire 30 miles.
Adam navigated the dozen or so runners to the Rainbow trail, and up to Rattlesnake Mountain. On the way up a large branch that appeared to have snapped with a very sharp edge somehow whacked my left ear. Instant pain and blood followed. I put a little snow on the ear, and ignored the pain, and just kept pushing along. At the end of our day, I discovered a chunk of ear missing. The summit of Rattlesnake gave us 360 degree views of the snow covered Appalachian range. You could hear several people point into the distance and naming off peaks. Seeing the mountains covered in snow gave off a Colorado vibe, and I could tell it would be a good day.
We all descended from the summit and made our way to the Royal Gorge Overlook. Everyone here took the time to take in the views and down a few calories. The sun was out and about, and I smelled Spring. It was a real adventure having snow on the trail. It certainly added to the challenge of it all.
We pushed on to the Kitsuma/Youngs Ridge trailhead. Here a few opted to bypass the Kitsuma climb and took a 5 mile shortcut. After climbing up Kitsuma, we descended and hung a left on Mill Creek Road for a 3 mile asphalt run. At the end of the road was Andrew's Geyser.
We were surprised to see the Geyser pumping water into the sky. It was here the yogi was calling from within for the crow. I saw a rock that was large and flat enough, and pulled the move without face planting. This was at about mile 14 of our 30 mile journey. We crossed the railroad tracks and pushed up to Heartbreak Ridge.
Photo by: Adam Hill
The next 8 miles involved countless switchbacks, and an incline that would make you climb about 3500 feet. Adam hopped up the trail like a little bunny. The next few miles I hiked up alone, and enjoyed the views, the sun, and the snow. My feet did start to get a little cold, so I tried to pick up the pace a little. I then passed a few runners that took the bypass earlier. Finally, I reached the Mitchell Toll Road. I was surprised to see how much snow there was up there.
I couldnt run downhill without concentrating on exactly where I needed to place my foot. A 4 wheeler had obviously come up this section in the snow, and their tire tracks is where I wanted my foot to go. This offered the most compact snow, so my feet wouldn't slide around and I could get somewhat of a good footing. This was a challenge, and forced me to work harder. Normally, I would want to fly down this section of the trail, and pick up some pace, but with the snow I doubt anyone will be setting any PR's next weekend. That is unless we get some heatwave ant it all melts away, unlikely.
You know your close to getting off the trail when it gets really nasty steep. Many runners cant even run this section on the Mt. Mitchell Challenge, fearing their knees would blow out. It was here that I felt like I was skiing in my shoes. You really had to have some good balance to move at a faster pace as the snow/mud eliminated much of the friction my feet were used to. Finally I hit Appalachian Way, and crossed Oklahoma, Arkansas, Florida, and Missouri and knew I was done when I saw Lookout road. My watch read 7:47.
Adam, thanks for putting on another amazing run in the hills of Appalachia! Carl and Matt, you guys rocked out another 100k out there, battling harsh winter conditions, rock on. And finally, thanks to all the people that came out, what an adventure!!
The Elevation Profile:
Another beautiful day was had on Sunday, so I went out for a the first bike ride in over a year. The legs were a little wobbly.
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