Sunday, April 15, 2012

Appalachian Trail - Hogpen Gap to Neels Gap

Got to hike on the Appalachian Trail again today!  This hike was from Hogpen Gap to Neels Gap, approximately 6 or 7 miles with an elevation difference of 3,125 to 3,942 feet.   We also did the Freeman Trail at the end bringing our hiking miles to about 8 today.

It was an overcast day, especially on the mountain - we actually saw fog rolling in on the peeks.  It did not matter.  However, it did inspire me to do this section again at some point just so I can see the vistas.

One of the things that fascinates me about the AT is how flora and the terrain changes every couple of hundred yards.  

Finally at about 3900' we had a small break in the weather.  Yes, I do have to do this section again on a clear day!

Throughout the trail we picked up on a few little things, not of nature.  There were various methods to communicate with others on the trail:

We ran into ~40 people on the trail, some day hikers and some through (Georgia to Maine) hikers.  Everyone was courteous and willing to engage in conversation, mostly about the type of hiking they are doing.  However, the most interesting through hiker we crossed paths with today had solar panels on his back pack for recharging his batteries for various items...

I loved the high tech and the low tech tech (drying of the socks) next to each other.

I did this hike with my buddy Stan - we've known each other for about 20 years, our boys went through little league and high school baseball together.  He's done a lot of hiking and pointed out many things on the trail.

Stan after a long climb on the AT

Me, in between Hogpen & Neels on the AT

It was good day for a hike!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Race 18 Battle of Allatoona Creek

This morning I did a 9 mile trail race named Battle of Allatoona Creek.  This race is part of a series of trail races put on by Mountain Goat Adventures.  It was a small race, maybe 100-150 people.

I enjoy doing trail races in general, but this one caught my attention more so because of its proximity to where the Battle of Allatoona Pass took place during the Civil War.  I really do not know if the actual battle took place where we did the race today, but it is definitely in the same area.

They had a 5 mile race and a 9 mile race.  Each race started with the shaking of a cowbell.  The 9 mile race took us in a different direction for about 3 miles through a huge meadow:

They had us zig-zagging a bit through this meadow, I suppose this is how they made it into a 9 mile race?  That did bring up a question in my mind - why 9 miles?  I do not recall ever seeing a 9 mile race, have you?  This of course popped in and out of my brain during the race with questions like, did they start out by saying this is going to be a 9 miles race or did they find a venue for the race and basically stretched a path to 9 miles?  Hmmm...  I don't know.  Either way the first third of the race was in the meadow.

After the meadow we hit the trail!  

the trail was marked very well, really no way to get lost

As a back of the pack type person in these events, especially the smaller ones, I don't  see many other people as I progress through the race.  But somewhere around mile 6 or 7, I saw another person about 30 yards ahead.  This person was doing a slow jog and I was walking.  A few minutes go by and I come around a bend and see this person jogging towards me.  This was odd because we were suppose to be going in one direction on the trail.  She sees me and said that she thinks she lost her sunglasses when she fell a little ways back.  Since I am not really doing these races for time (or to win : ) so I said I'd help her look for them.  She then invoked St. Anthony saying "Something's lost and can't be found, please St. Anthony, look around".  I think we spent 4-5 minutes going back over the trail, we never saw any sun glasses and she basically said the heck with it.  She goes back to jogging and I'm walking along.  About a minute after that I hear her shout out a laugh and her two arms go up in the air - so I figure she found them.  She turned around  and said "I didn't wear my sun glasses today - it was just a senior moment".  We both smiled and she went on.

Around mile 8 I saw a sign that I really did not expect to see in the woods, on the trail:

It was just odd after being in the woods for awhile with no signs of civilization, to come across this...

For post race food, they had my favorite - PBJ sandwiches!  They also had bananas, Gatorade, water, cookies,...  Besides getting a technical t-shirt in our swag bag and such, we also got a few things that were very appropriate for trail activities - technu Extreme poison ivy scrubs and first aid antiseptic pain-relieving gel!

My watch time for the 9 mile trail race was 2:00:10.  It was a good race. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Race 17 Northeast GA Spring Half Marathon

About two months ago I came across this half marathon.  I could tell it was a small one, maybe 100 people or so.  However, I could not find any information on time limits.  I'm a back of the pack kinda guy and wanted to find out this.  So I emailed the race director and he responded back with:

 Tuesday, February 14, 2012 9:38 PM
 RE: Question on Northeast Georgia Spring Run Half Marathon

7 days  - seriously, no limit , we wait 
> Date: Sun, 12 Feb 2012 07:29:30 -0800
> Subject: Question on Northeast Georgia Spring Run Half Marathon
> To:
> Hello,
> Do you have a time limit for race completion for the half marathon?
> Thanks,

Ha!  This has to be one of the greatest responses to that question - ever!  So with that response, I added this half marathon to my calendar.

Another great thing about this race, my daughter also joined me in doing this half.  The race was in Blairsville, Georgia, which is about 90 miles north of us up in the North Georgia mountains.  As there is no direct (interstate) route to get there, we had a nice ride though the winding mountain roads to get there.

We got up there with plenty of time to spare.  Again, this was a low key half marathon (they also had a 5K and a 1 mile walk) with maybe a 100 people and what I really thought was great - proceeds from the event benefited the American Red Cross and Union County groups including Special Olympics, Family Connection, Meals on Wheels, Shop with a Cop, Christmas Give-a-Gift, and Community Easter Egg Hunt.  What a huge contrast to the Georgia Half Marathon we did last month with 10,000+ people doing that race.  We got checked in a hung out for awhile just waiting for the race to start:

At 9:00 we were off.  With so few doing this race, I knew I would be on my own for the most part.  The first couple miles we were on a nice country road.

What impressed me the most, about 50% of the people who passed on this road (in cars & trucks), waved!  The people of Blairsville were just really nice people.  A bit further on down the road I saw this in a front yard - it just seemed like a good picture to take.  : )

For awhile I was thinking that the odds of me getting lost were pretty high.  There were times that I saw no one in front of me and no one behind.  However,  they did a great job in signage and markings on the roads to make sure none of us got lost:

There were a lot of hills.  My favorite section was when we spent a few miles in an area with plenty of trees:

However the last four miles or so, were on a main highway, 65 MPH type.  It was good that they had a lane coned off for us:

Once again, it was great having my daughter there with me.

It was a great day!

Garmin Stats:

Time: 2:39
Average Heart Rate: 146, 89% of max
Calories Spent: 1280
Distance: 13.1 miles

Steps: 49,804


I would like to share a little bit about the significance of my finish time today of 2:39.  I lost my Dad to pancreatic cancer in 2007 and miss him so much.  One of the really neat memories we have of him is his story about 239.  My guess would be that every restaurant in between New Jersey and Florida where he had eaten has heard the story about 239...  He would typically bring this up when ordering beans (like baked beans in a BBQ place).  He would say you can only eat 239 of those beans and just wait for some to ask why...  his answer, the next one is too farty!  So now, in our family, we just remember and think of Dad when anything with 239 comes up.  And today it came up.  It was emotional and my eyes were filled with tears as I crossed the finish line.  I was glad my daughter was there.