Thursday, 11 July 2013

Holidays are for Trail Running

Trail running took a new and fantastic turn this month.  We visited North Georgia, USA for our annual Dusterhoff family vacation.  For the last five years we have spent at least a week here, renting a log cabin near the small town of Suches.  We split our time between hiking and chilling out with the family.  There is an abundance of stunning trails around here, including the Appalachian Trail.  On our first visit, Kurt ventured out for some trail-running, but came back bruised, battered and bleeding after falling repeatedly on the rocky, technical trails.  We stuck to hiking thereafter.   Until this year.  We are both more experienced as trail-runners now, and had a bit more confidence that we could stay upright.

Kurt found us a loop and we set off early in the morning before the day became too hot.  Starting at Woody Gap, we started with a gentle downhill along the highway, down the mountain.  After a couple of miles of tarmac down the twisty-turny road followed by a gravel track, we reached Dockery Lake and happily entered the trails.  Dockery Lake is beautiful first thing in the morning and the trail was perfect.

Dockery Lake in the early morning sun

We followed the Dockery Lake Trail for 4 miles, along Pigeon Roost Creek, gently undulating through the forest with only birdsong for company.  The trail parallels the creek up hill to Granny Top, where it joins the Appalachian Trail for another long ascent.  The uphills were long, but mostly runnable, which I hadn't expected.  The day was warm, but the humidity was high and we were around 3000ft higher than usual, which was quite tiring.  I am just not used to it and I found that I was getting out of breath very easily.  The odd walking break helped, although I had to be careful when I was taking a walking break, as Kurt kept pointing his phone at me, taking videos and photos. The reason for the photography was because I was kit-testing today.  I love my Thoosa skort (see previous post) but it hadn't been properly tested.  This time, I wore it for 2.5 hours, with the heat, humidity, and hills leaving me dripping with sweat, and had not a hint of inner-thigh chafing at the end.  This was the one thing I'd worried about after having problems with other skorts.  Maybe it's my slightly changed body shape, but either way, I am delighted with the result.

Views like this are worth the climb up to Preaching Rock.

Oh, look, he's got the camera out again...

After a good long climb on the AT, we reached a short side-trail which took us to Preaching Rock.  The views today were superb.  After a brief respite to take in the view, we headed back onto the main trail, for a long, fairly tricky descent back to Woody Gap.  Nearly ten miles of steady running, amazingly no face-plants, no injuries, some beautiful trails and stunning views.  What a wonderful place this is, and how happy I am to be a trail-runner!

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