Sunday, February 21, 2010

More than one way up a mountain

I've lived most my life here at the base of Mill Mountain, and probably looked at that "scar" (I prefer to call it a beauty mark) up the side the mountain more days that I care to count. There used to be an "incline" (cable car) that took wealthy patrons straight up the mountain to the theater at the top. The incline is gone. Now there is a power line and a 20 yard wide strip of briars and other thick brush left behind.

(The "scar" rises from behind the hospital to the top of Mill Mountain)

As a child, I always wanted to explore that incline. Once I became a trail runner the attraction was even stronger. And with the snow on the mountain this winter, it has looked more appealing than ever.

So today I did it.

Getting to the scar involved some skirting around public works and hospital property. But from the road, I was climbing the incline in less than 10 minutes. Staying the middle of the scar was almost impossible due to the briars that wanted to shred my legs and arms and back and stomach and face. I quickly learned that if I were smart (like the deer whose tracks I finally followed to the top), I would get out of the scar and stay in the natural woods to the right.

(looking up at the steepest part of the climb)

It only took me about 30 minutes to make the climb. My GPS tells me it was about 0.6 miles of steep climbing. Enough to break a sweat, but not nearly enough to wear me out. I have seen the view from the top many times, but today it was better than ever, knowing I had finally realized a boyhood dream.

(View from the top)

From the top I took a series of trails back down, turning a 0.6 mile climb into a nice 4 mile run. The trails around here are still very snow covered. But the 50+ degree temps today made them quite runnable.

Run hard out there...


Sophie Speidel said...

Neal---cool stuff! I love exploring old trails and roads.

Do you think the trails over in the Catawba area will be runnable in a few weeks? :-)))))

Neal Jamison said...

Depends on your definition of runnable! I'm opting for a trail 10k instead of the CRA.

Jud said...

Sounds awesome! 30 years to make a 0.6 mile run - must have been rewarding.

Sophie Speidel said...

OK...does that mean the CRA trails are not runnable---at least right now? I am hoping the mild temps and rain will help. Have you been out there or know someone who has? Some intel would be great. Thanks!

Neal Jamison said...

I can tell you just by looking out my window that the trails up there are still completely snow covered.

Given the proper footwear and mindset, they are runnable. I was on nearby trails yesterday and running was a challenge. It definitely took some core strength to remain upright the whole way.

Neal Jamison said...

I'll try to hit the AT later this week and send an update.

mkirk said...


This is awesome. Please take me up this route next time I'm in your neck of the woods.


runjoey said...

very cool Neal. Inspires me to finally get around to exploring some places I've thought about for years but have not gotten around to doing