Like a Bigfoot

Motivation, Mindset, Positivity, Endurance, Adventure, Perseverance, and Possibility

Category: Hiking (page 1 of 2)

Linville Gorge Adventure: How to overcome dehydration and self doubt

Trail running in the Linville Gorge (about an hour east of Asheville) has been a goal of mine ever since we moved out east.  Like a Game of Thrones character this area goes by many different nicknames: the most rugged wilderness on the east coast, the Grand Canyon of the East, or simply the gem of North Carolina.  It is only one of two gorge’s east of the Mississippi and is one of the only hikes around here where you find complete isolation (similar to a hike into the Rocky Mountains).  In otherwords, the Linville Gorge is unlike anything else in the Southeast.

Two years ago I ran my second 50k up some dirt roads on the east side of the Gorge.  It was in a miserably cold rain storm in the middle of December.  A 33 degree downpour where I was lucky to even move my fingers enough to put my gloves on (on the plus side the thought of “getting the hell out of the cold” made me run pretty fast).  As I was running through the fog, I could only see a few feet in front of my face .  I kept thinking to myself “you know, I bet this area is unbelievably gorgeous in nice weather.”  I’ve been meaning to come back ever since.  Sunday night I got the view that was taken from me that day.

Wiseman’s View:

Yeah….the Gorge is beautiful.  I was nearly overcome to the point of tears at what I was seeing.

The next day I met a friend visiting from Iowa and we spent the morning hiking around the Blue Ridge Parkway (Black Balsam Knob, Sam’s Knob, Skinny Dip Falls….all very suggestive names).  That afternoon we met his family and fueled up on breweries and delicious food before I headed back to my campsite at Lake James.

Tuesday morning was my big adventure of the trip.  The plan was to trail run out and back from Shortoff Mountain to Table Rock; approximately 12 miles or, as it will be known from here on out, “the most brutal half marathon I’ve ever ran”.

At 7:25a.m., consisting solely on the previous day’s diet of beer and perogies, I began the run.

The ascent of Shortoff Mountain is probably runnable but, in order to conserve energy, I chose to hike it.  25 minutes later I was at the top where I was greeted by a fantastic view of Lake James.

At this point it was already getting HOT…extremely hot.  And, in classic east coast fashion, super freaking humid.

The next two miles were pretty flat as I traversed the eastern ridge of the gorge on the Mountains to Sea trail.  At times I weaved into the woods where tree branches, thorn bushes, and high grass covered the rocky and rooty path.   (NOTE: all measurements are estimated as I’m too lazy to look up actual distances…your welcome)

The sun was pounding down and dehydration was fast catching up to me.  I had three full bottles; two in the front of my Ultimate Direction pack and one stashed in the back and I was determined to be very conservative on the first half of the run.

Eventually I descended to Chimney Gap and began the climb to the chimneys.  This was the climb that almost broke me.  No tree cover meant that the steep trail was SCORCHING HOT.  Instantly I was soaking wet….my clothes felt like I had just stepped out of a pool.  All this sweat means I’m losing A LOT of electrolytes and tons of water…I need to rehydrate soon.  I chugged a half bottle of water and fought off the voice telling me to turn around.  This mountain will not beat me today became my mantra as I huffed and puffed up the hill.

I love these moments.  When you have to conquer that inner monologue.  Your brain stuck in that negative loop as “doom watch 2016” has taken over and you are stepping into battle with that part of your brain.

I haven’t always been good at battling my own negativity.  Doom and gloom mode has emerged victorious many times before.  “Pre-adventure seeking Chris” would have turned around, whereas over the last few years I have discovered that my body is can push past obstacles that my mind deems too difficult.

This is why everyone NEEDS to create these mini-adventures- self understanding.

You will improve by leaps and bounds once you challenge yourself into tough, grinding, brutal situations.  Step outside your daily routine and find these challenges.  They will be uncomfortable…even miserable at times, but seeking that is a GOOD THING.  These situations will help you discover what you are capable of!  And at the end of the day you will look back with a smile thinking “I can’t believe I almost gave in…what was I thinking??”

At the Chimneys I ran into an Outward Bound rock climbing group who informed me that “no there is no running water at the Table Rock Picnic Area.”  Good thing I was being conservative.  Once I got to my turn-around at Table Rock I chugged a half bottle of water and began to retrace my steps.

It was a tough two hours (and only 6 miles) to the halfway point so I took a few minutes to rest and appreciate the view (and chow down some Honey Stinger Gummies).

The way back was beyond challenging but pretty uneventful consisting mostly of me bargaining with myself…”Okay if you run for the next 20 minutes than you can drink a half bottle of water.”  This helped fight off the dizziness of dehydration as I dragged my scratched up smelly body through the mountains.

I made it back to Shortoff and finished my water.  The last mile was a downhill quad burner that seemed to go on forever.  Two things kept me going: the dream of sandals and of pouring a bunch of cold water all over my body.

10 minutes later I got both of those things.

I was a happy boy.

Throughout the 4 hours (my slowest half marathon!) I faced self-doubt, dehydration (my pee was almost brown by the end), and the fear of isolation in the wilderness.  Make no mistake about it this was mental toughness training as much as it was physical body training.  Overcoming those challenges made me BETTER.  I drove away from the Gorge BETTER than I was 4 hours before.

That’s why we have adventures.

Albino Deer

 

No long post this morning.  Nothing too inspirational except this:

GET OUTSIDE EVERY SINGLE DAY.  TEN MINUTES OR THREE HOURS.  JUST GET OUTSIDE.

If you do that then you will feel better mentally and physically PLUS you get to see cool stuff like this albino deer I saw yesterday!  (Only albino deer I’ve ever seen.  In fact it was the only albino deer my dad has seen in 65 years of being an outdoorsman)

Baby Backpack

I love going hiking with my daughter.  She will be 2 in a week from now and ever since she was 5 months we have taken her hiking in a Deuter kid carrier I bought at REI.

With this bag she’s been all over Virginia and North Carolina.

She’s been carried up mountains, around lakes, through swamplands, over hills, and so on.  She’s hiked when it was hot out and hiked in the cold.  We’ve experienced highs and lows.  There have been (many) moments of laughter and (fewer…thank God) moments of ‘get me the hell out of here’ screaming agony.

We’ve shared snacks, sang songs, learning much about each other during these hikes.  Our time with the backpack has been some of our best father-daughter bonding moments or “Daddy daughter trip” as she likes to call it.

Continue reading

2016 Plan of Attack

New Year, New athletic goals.

First goal as per usual = get outside as much as possible.  I had an amazing morning recently running up two of the best trails near Roanoke Virginia. (Seriously, if you wanna experience some of the best views the Appalachian Trail has to offer, hike up McCaffee Knob and the Dragon’s Tooth)

Continue reading

Why You Should Go Climb a Mountain

Everyone should climb a mountain at some point in their life.  Something amazing happens as you are huffing and puffing your way up over boulders. Through your oxygen deprived brain a realization dawns upon you”Holy crap I’m climbing a mountain…I CAN CLIMB A FREAKING MOUNTAIN!!”  All of a sudden a brand new world of possibilities opens before you.  You have achieved something out of the ordinary, something you may have believed to be impossible.  You have accomplished something EXTRAORDINARY.

“Ordinary people do extraordinary things.”- Jim Valvano (Coach of the NC State Wolfpack) Continue reading

Why Hike up a 14er?

First of all, if you are unfamiliar with the term “14er” let me educate you for a moment. The word 14er in hiking parlance refers to a 14,000ft mountain; these are the tallest mountains in the continental United States (Alaska has some monsters that exceed this height). The tallest fourteener in the U.S. is Mt. Whitney in California at a massive 14,505 ft. My favorite state, Colorado, hosts anywhere from 53 to 59 fourteeners (depending on how you classify them) and hiking these bad boys are a major pastime in this state.

Hiking a 14er first showed up on my radar in 9th grade. My dad had moved to Fort Collins, Colorado and was dating a woman who had attempted to hike up the legendary Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park. He relayed the tale of having to wake up early EARLY in the morning to battle the altitude and afternoon thunderstorms. Instantly I knew that I had to do this. I set a life goal of: hike all of Colorado’s 14ers.

Since that day, I have summited eight of them. While hiking I’ve created unforgettable memories, faced immense self-doubt, confronted fear of heights, and experienced failure. These mountains have been incredibly exhilarating and have taught me life lessons. The top of a 14er is the happiest place on earth for me.

Why hike them?  Continue reading

Dad Workouts (Part 1)

This summer has been a huge blessing for me.  During my time off from teaching I have spent most waking hours in the presence of the most beautiful lady in the whole world – my 5 month old daughter Harper.  My days have become jam packed with raising and entertaining this tiny human (via poor attempts at guitar playing, silly dancing, and my new specialty- impressions of Arnold Schwarzenegger…his voice not the whole nanny thing).

One could say that my main objective of my time off is introducing my daughter to this crazy world.  This is true.  She’s seen some weird stuff (the aforementioned terrible dancing), been some weird places (from tops of mountains all the way to the Atlantic Ocean and the craziest place of all….Kansas City), and has accomplished some of her own athletic goals (mostly taking a giant crap while simultaneously sneezing and spitting up).  And I have been there every step of her journey.  Hours spent helping this little amazing creature along. Continue reading

Repulsions You Get to While Trail Running

1. Spiderwebs in the eyes

​Spiders are the practical jokers of the wild.  Trail runners are generally their marks. I imagine them giggling wildly as they construct their webs directly at eye level, high-fiving their buddy as they see a runner coming around the corner, and laughing hysterically as the runner inevitably blinds themselves momentarily with webbing. After a year of trail running I am almost considered an expert at pulling webs out from under my eyelids (10,000 hours baby).

2. Spiderwebs in the mouth

This is where trail runners get their revenge.  The amount of spiders I have accidently eaten has skyrocketed since beginning to run through the woods.  My culinary review: Not too delicious, but ultimately a good source of protein. Continue reading

Don’t Be Afraid of Bears

 

My first attempt at trail running was fraught with fear.

I want to flash back to 2006 for a minute.

Lindsey (my wife and then girlfriend) and I were hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a short 4.6 mile trail to Cub Lake which I had hiked as a kid when visiting my dad. (Side note: This trail has the potential for astounding views of elk herds in the summer months) We were taking our time on our leisurely stroll when we realized “we have not seen anyone on this trail.”

Nowadays we are much more seasoned hikers and would have no problem with being alone on a hiking trail (in fact we would probably welcome it!). We have been out in the wilderness miles from human beings, we have hiked to the top of sketchy looking mountains; generally we are more comfortable being out in the woods. Back in 2006, no one on the trail meant an uneasy Chris and Lindsey. At the end of our hike we had planned to sit down by Cub Lake and have a nice romantic picnic (I know how to treat a lady…even though we got engaged at a place called Hillbilly Hill…). Our plans were interrupted by a loud GRUNT coming from the bushes a few yards away. Instantly we abandoned our plans and took off from whence we came.  Continue reading

Trails are Everywhere

Ever since I moved down to Virginia I have been on a quest to discover new trails to run. Through the mountains, the woods, the swamps, and the coast I have discovered a passion for trail running.  My wife and I make it a priority to travel to these beautiful locations and our travel plans always include exploring with a trail run. Along with eating amazing food, trail running is one of my favorite ways to explore an area. 

 

Some areas are plentiful in the amount of trails they provide. Any state that is “outdoorsy” like Colorado or Oregon or Montana will be loaded with a variety of beautiful places to run. In fact, northern California might have the most trail runners in the United States! 

 

That being said, recently I have realized that the idea of an “outdoorsy” area is what you make of it. Any place in the United States can be “outdoorsy” if you search for those experiences.  Continue reading

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