Fast forward to Monday, I didn't have any major plans so kind of last minute decided to head down and do it.
A few minutes after 8 AM, I rolled out from the Crowder's Mt. Visitor center. The past couple of times that I have made this run, it has been in mid July, and usually on a Sunday. The crowds were rather sparse.
However, on this day parking lot was over half full and hundreds of people were making their way up the slopes.
The first 3 miles are a bit of climb as I headed for the top of ridge line. Mostly, I felt my heart rushing along and sweat dripping from my forehead. A strange feel considering the temperate was a mere 61 degrees.
Along the way, I passed numerous families on their journey to the top. Some were slowing making their way up the slope. Others were standing or sitting from what I presume would be oxygen debt.
Gazing into their eyes as I passed them, I wondered what they thought of me. After all, here is a 50 year man running up a slope that they are struggling to walk.
Once I was up on the ridge line, the view was awesome. I could see for miles in all directions. Then, I began the long slow decent in to South Carolina and Kings Mt. State Park.
For the most part this is a nice wide trail for running. A few sections do narrow up and some get washed out a bit by the water, but otherwise, I could pretty much cruise along.
The Ridge line trail ends in the Kings Mt. Start Park, where I took a right for the 2+ mile run up to the visitor center. They had added one small section since I last made this run two years ago. The course veered away from the creek for a small distance before returning to pick up the main trail again.
Nothing much had changed at the Kings Mt Visitor Center, and the parking lot didn't look nearly as full as the Crowder's Mt. parking lot. I filled my Nathan water bottles, and within a few minutes, I was on the trail headed back.
Going out I never think too much about how much the course drops, but coming back I begin to take more notice of it.
The terrain tilts only slightly uphill but as I push further into the run, the slope steepens, flattens out, and steepens again. Until finally, I am in the last ½ mile of the climbing to the top and going from one rail road tie to the next. The ties are about 2 and half feet apart, and my quads are aching from the constant climbing.
Hitting the top, a feeling of relief sweeps over me. The climbing is finally done. Now, I have only 2 to 3 miles of running back to the Visitor Center. Of course, nothing is ever easy. I am tired. The course is super steep in sections. To keep from tripping and falling, I have to grab a tree. Tired legs just don't respond like fresh ones.
Some 4 hours and 30 minutes later, I pulled back in to the parking lot at Crowder's Mt. State park. My legs were covered in trail dust. I never realized how dirty they get during a run but I wear it proudly. Any one that sees me knows I have been putting in major miles.
Seems like very couple of years; I do this run. Every time, I am reminded that I should consider running from Kings Mt. to Crowder's Mt. and back. The run would be way easier but I never seem to remember that fact. May be I just like the ruggedness of running this way. This certainly test my lung power and stamina.
See you at the next Visitor Center to Visitor Center Run.
The Cool Down Runner