Monday, May 2, 2011

Pilot Mountain Training Weekend

I had a few days off from work, so last weekend I headed out to Pilot Mountain state Park for some camping and trail running. Not being too familiar with the trails out this way, I brought along my trail running partner Hannah,so I would not be wandering around the forest by myself. The rest of the fam opted for the beach. ( They have become used to my trail journeys, and the beach seemed WAY more attractive then camping.
  We arrived Thursday afternoon after an uneventful three hour ride, with minimal traffic. I had reserved a site in advance, so we checked in with the host, and began to set up camp.

The weather was good, so after settling in at camp, we decided to go on a hike to stretch the legs a bit. The grindstone trail head is right at the campsite, and it is two miles one way to the summit. It also gains around 500 ft. in elevation on the way up.

After a sucessful hike, it was back to camp for dinner, reading and turning in early for the night.

Then the rain came! All day Friday, except for a two hour window in the afternoon. We set out to run the Grindstone Trail and take that to the Mountain Trail towards the river. Well, a wrong turn or two and we were on an alternate trail up to the summit, complete with quad searing ascents up multiple stone stairways!

Then there was the delightful knee jarring descent back to camp. The rain held off, I grabbed a shower after returning to camp, which felt amazing! With it still raining, we had some dinner, read and turned in early to bed.
Some more showers splattered on the tent overnight, and we awoke theSaturday morning to overcast skies once again. (There was a rumor from other campers that today was going to be sunny and 80 degrees)
We now knew where to go to access the mountain trail, so today's run was scheduled for two hours.
After a quick breakfast and some Vespa, we headed out to find the mountain trail! Considering the rain we had, the trails were in pretty good shape. We had to take the Grindstone Trail the opposite direction, pick up the Grassy Ridge Trail, to the Mountain Trail, which led us to the Corridor Trail, that goes down to the Yadkin River. The first mile was extremely technical, and since we were doing an out and back run, I made a note to myself that there would be some suffering over that last mile back to camp.
We made our way slow and steady, and finally picked up the trail headed towards the river. A natural archway greeted us!   
The Corridor Trail is a Hiking/Equestrian trail, so it is wide, but does have some nice climbs and difficult sections. The trail itself is owned by the state, and there is private property on either side.
We settled into a nice pace, and my friend Hannah felt good, so she went up ahead of me. Suddenly, we heard a rather loud shotgun blast, and seconds later I see Hannah hauling ass back to me, totally freaked out!! "Someone shot at me!!". For a brief moment, I thought about saying "Well that should teach you not to drop me on the trail!", but I could tell this was not the time to be a wise ass. We collected ourselves, and gingerly made our way back down the trail. We then saw a hiker, who explained that there was private land on either side of the trail, and that he had heard the shotgun blast as well. That made us feel somewhat better. ( On our way back later on, we stopped and chatted with an older gentleman on horseback, who explained that there was a shooting range located on the property we had passed. He was a local, so I believed him, but Hannah was still not convinced!)
Back to the run.....We settled back into our run (Hannah now staying along side of me) and took in some of the beautiful scenery, including what looked like an old moonshine still in the woods

 We hit the one hour mark and began our return trip back to camp. No shots fired, but I felt like I wanted to be shot that last mile back to camp! We managed to crank out ten miles. My Garmin later indicated that we had climbed over 4300 feet of elevation during our run. That would account for this lovely picture of me back at camp after our run.

At about 5:30 that afternoon, the sun finally came out. More reading, a huge dinner of pasta in red sauce with veggie sausage and then to bed for a nice dry night in the tent. It was nice and quiet without the rain dancing off the top of the tent all night.
We got up the next morning and broke camp. Of course, Sunday's weather was fantastic! We did stop in to a park on our way back home, found a mountain bike trail, and ran for a hour. The course was nice singletrack, not too hilly. A nice way to end a training weekend.......

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