With the arrival of my fall break I was granted a couple of extra leisure days. I knew this would be a great opportunity to get some running in, but just how much- and where, I hadn't get figured out. Unfortunately, my partner in crime/wife, Melissa, is tied down with work leaving me to embark on an adventure alone. I decided my next best bet would probably be Axel. Axel is a pup recently famed in an article in this month's Blue Ridge Outdoors for his running prowess and the passion and audacity he possesses in the woods.
I had a vision for the weekend, a couple of days of running 20+ miles, beautiful scenery, and close to home, and all it took was mentioning it to a friend, Adam Hill, and a plan was laid out. The original suggestion was a 43 mile loop in Pisgah National Forest starting at the Davidson River Campground that I would knock out over the course of two days.
This plan was quickly thwarted once I started thumbing through Ken Burn's The National Parks: America's Best Idea for the first time in a while. Seeing pictures of the Smokies' Chimney-Tops and a stunning sunrise seen from atop of Clingman's Dome two things happened:
1) I reprimanded myself for still-- after living in North Carolina for more than fifteen years-- never having visited Great Smoky Mountain National Park,
2) I decided I would keep the theme of my adventure but change the venue.
After discussion with Adam, he confirmed the Smokies as a fantastic option for my first fast packing endeavor. I have a projected start time of roughly Saturday at 10:00 AM. The starting point is at Davenport Gap and, after just over 71 miles of running, I will end at Fontana Dam.
How blessed I am to have a wonderful wife who is willing to drop me off in the wilderness for my half-witted, wholly distorted ideas of fun! Either she is secretly trying to get rid of me, or she is the perfect wife. I'm fully convinced that its the later.
Anyways, I'm mostly packed. I have food, a flashlight, a sleeping bag, a couple of legs, a journal, a bible, and a whole lot of heart. The forecast projects nothing but sun and chilly nights. All systems are 'go'.
So here is my goal: to run the 72 miles across Great Smoky Mountain National Park (North to South) by way of the Appalachian Trail in under 55 hours. The only drawback of this plan is that dogs are not permitted in the park meaning I'll be flying solo- with the exception of thousands of leaf-peepers and about 1600 black bears.