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!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

12th Annual ALTAR

Distance: ~30 miles
Trail: Art Loeb on winter solstice
Time: 8:41:04!
Current events: This post was written on Christmas day, and the US govt still appears as if they are falling off the fiscal cliff, the Pope pleas for peace in Syria on Christmas day, and a volcano simmers ready for eruption in middle of Chile in my direct flight path to Antarctica.

The room was pitch black, everyone was silent for a moment, and the glow of a well burnt fireplace crackled in the distance. "The Mayans were right" someone yelled out. Everyone fumbled for their headlamps. The Vance Lodge lost power, certainly due to the stormy winds we were all cautioned about, and heard roaring all the way on my Friday afternoon drive. A strong wind advisory was issued for Friday night until noon Saturday, but the tradition of the ALTAR continues.

I love this run for many reasons: it ends my year, and puts the new running year into perspective, I connect and reconnect with the people of the Pisgah Nation & the Sultonic Tribal Council, enjoy the community we have built over the years, share a meal over baclava, and share a rugged trail on the shortest day of the year. It's a keystone Pisgah Nation run!

That night we heard from Scott & Liz about their amazing 2012 year of running the most hundreds (36), from Adam the father of the Pisgah Nation recapped our year in the making, and Brew Davis highlighted his adventures in Espana and Iceland!

We gathered our shizzel, hoped into a car and ferried over to the start at the river of Davidson. On the drive over a red morning glow illuminated a mountainous background indicating the  clearest skies would be had for our viewing pleasure. Departing a little later than years past, I mobilized my legs at 7:20am.

It was well below freezing, maybe 25 degrees, but I quickly worked up a sweat as I climbed up the Art Loeb trail. Even at lower elevations, I could simultaneously see farther than I have ever before with clear visibility, and hear the rage of the winds blasting. I feared that some of us would fly away on the Black Balsam balds, thus ate three dates and made a prayer that the winds would die down as we climbed high above.

Other than the start, I found myself alone in nature moving forward. My left soleus muscle below my calf started bothering me a few days back and I questioned weather I should even attempt this run. I wasn't going to push myself hard, and wanted to stay healthy, especially for the adventurous to the frozen lands down south. I made sure to pack a headlamp in case I needed to hobble into the darkness.
I ran past many of the miles of trails which I have run many times over in the past, in both directions. This would be my 6th Altar finish. I passed Cedar Rock, filled up a water bottle there, passed the first shelter, and  climbed Pilot Mountain, which never disappoints. At the next shelter I made sure to fill up all my water bottles as it was clear that I would be running in the snow for anything higher above. I feared any of the streams or springs above would be frozen.

I was at the Parkway in 4:47, my average time here is about 5 hours. I climbed above the Parkway wishing I had the same microspikes that helped me summit Mt. Washington only a week ago here. Carefully ascended the icy trail to reach the MST junction in 5:20.

When I finally made it to the balds my prayers were miraculously realized; the winds had died down significantly. I traversed the ridge, soaking up perhaps the clearest and most spectacular views from that vantage point in recent memory. 

The trail appeared to have been flooded and then froze solid where you could have ice skated all the way back to the lodge. I then reached the narrows for another amazing sight on both sides of the ridge and then finally made that left turn to head downhill back to Camp Daniel Boone.
I finished this years run with the most daylight to spare when compared to years past. Much gratitude and many thanks to all the people who put this on, the Kirks, the grand Kirk, and everyone who made this possible! Merry Christmas, Happy holidays, and have an amazing 2013!

1 comment:

mkirk said...

Sultan, thanks for the words. Safe travels southward and keep us up to speed (post the live link when you get a chance if you please).