Distance: 27.2 miles
Elevation gain: 7,500 feet
You will to win must be greater than your fear to lose at the RAM.
The sixth running of the Roan adventure marathon was inked in the books this past Saturday. Its refreshing to see old friends, and so many new faces and new runners join us in the hills of Tennessee. This run, in June, still ranks as my number one most scenic run of the southeast. The rhododendron’s full bloom add to the scenery, mix that in with a few balds and long distance views and you have magic.
This year we had 18 runners adventure down to 19E from Carvers Gap and back. All 18 finished, making it the largest RAM year thus far. It’s no surprise why either! The views are abso-flipping-lutely amazing. Amongst many superstars, we also had a return from Kevin Lane, who vanished into the highlands 3 years ago. Welcome back, and thanks for that amazing post run spaghetti!
The night before we camped out at Roan Mountain State Park, which was larger than I had anticipated, but very well run, with royal amenities such as showers and the like. The following morning we met up just before 7am, and were lucky to have Christy help out with shuttling aid down to 19E. Thank you very much! The clouds were forming early in the morning, and the wind made the 42 degree start feel like it was freezing up there.
My start of the run wasn’t all the best, mostly due to poor conditioning, but made it down to 19E in 3:00 exactly. Sipped on some Dr. Pepper, which revived my spirits, along with some other calories and made my hike back up passing several CHOA hikers. The weather on the way down was cloudy, windy, dark often, and foggy. When on Roan the weather is constantly changing.
The return however was a different story. The sun took the sky as was first evident when I reached the Doll Flats, and then when the first bald came into sight on the return, Hump Mountain. My serotonin began to kick in naturally. It’s always amazing to see these peaks when visibility is good. Big Hump is at 5,587 feet and it is a peak that I could clearly see in the distance. The long grass moving with the rhythm of ocean waves as the wind pummeled the exposed mountains. What looks like colorful ants far away in the distance are really just backpackers, or perhaps other runners in the distance . Usually you have to travel to the West coast to see this type of mountain view, but not at the RAM. The wind takes the center stage when you reach the top of Big Hump, as it it is almost always windy up here. I rolled up my arm warmers to keep the wind from robbing me of my heat. Then you descend down to Bradley Gap, and climb past Little Hump (5,460 feet) and Big Yellow Mountain (5,460 feet), and climb back up Little Hump at 5,460 feet. You then go past Yellow Mountain Gap and pass the Barn shelter. The next two miles are so are almost continuously uphill. This continuous climbing is the most challenging part of the adventure because you mostly drained by this point, and its steep. I always and joyed to stand on top of Grassy Ridge Bald (6,189 feet) and see the next set of balds. From this point to the Carvers Gap it took me 24 minutes exactly, and I was speed hiking not running. So technically you could run this section in 15 minutes or less if you have enough juice left in the tank.
I was happy to finish in 7:40:45 beating my time last year by 20 minutes. Another awesome adventure, with awesome friends, in the perhaps the most amazing trail in the Southeast. Next on the list is Mt. Hood. Weather isn’t looking good, but improving. In search of serotonin by way of sultonic serendipity...whoa?