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!

Friday, November 11, 2011

seven 11's

It was exactly 11 seconds past, 11am, on the 11th month we call November in the year 2011, and I was on a mission to run section 11 of the mountains to sea trail which stretches from NC 181 on the Northwestern section of the Linville Gorge to US-221 just North of Marion, NC.

There were 11 of us, and thirty five miles of trail to cover with over eight thousand feet of elevation gain. This is not your typical Friday morning jog. The elevation gain was plenty, steep, and unmissable while climbing Pinnacle. For those of you that have visited the gorge, the incline (and decline) gradient is unforgiving. Leaves, in some areas a foot or more deep blanketed the trail, making those large rocks, and small boulders attack your ankles by surprise. The sunshine was bright, but the breath was visible for most of the day as temperatures never went north of 45 degrees. Exact location at 11:11:11 on Nov. 11, 2011 was climbing up the backside of Shortoff Mountain.

The expansive views of The Chimney's, a few miles before Shortoff, may have been the highlight of the day.  A massive crater in the earth on the east coast is something that should be experienced by any adventurer out there.

Just past the Shortoff spring,  Tim Weed, passes me.  He took the scenic route up the summit of Table Rock and relished the magnificent views of the day while I pushed forward knowing I would need a bit more time to make it back at a reasonable hour.  We both got carried away and ran towards a structure and a parking area.  I knew immediately we had gone off tail, and yelled out to back track.  Tim has the speed of a gazelle, and and a humbleness that is contagious.  Shortly after our back track, I found myself alone descending deep into the gorge, and finally reaching the Linville River, where I saw Isaiah having lunch.  I knew he would catch up tome, so I opted to cross the river alone (thanks for taking the photo)!

The following climb up Pinnacle was a beast.  Isaiah had caught up to me at this point, and we enjoyed a few moments of calorie intake.  Then off he went in the distance, as I speed hiked the next several miles.  It was another few up and down, crossing the tracks, to finally make it back to US 221.  Finished this one in the dark!

The post run dinner at Jalapenos with friends was a great way to end an amazing day.  Thank you Matt and Lilly for putting on this adventure!