Some of my earliest childhood memories are of my Dad and I in the Adirondacks. Sledding, hiking (aka ‘Death Marching’), and a myriad of other things were common place. That’s because his happy place is outdoors and in the mountains.
Many moons ago I signed up for the Asheville half marathon. In my research I discovered that the highest point in North Carolina was only a mere 50 miles from the hotel. Being my father’s daughter I said, HELL YEAH!!
I decided I was going to do the summit on my way down to Asheville for a couple of reasons. First, after 7 hours of driving I was going to need to clear my head. Second, there are thunderstorms predicted for Sunday and the last thing I want is to be caught on a mountain peak during lightening.
The “Old Mt. Mitchell Trail” while not a full base to top hike (which was 11 miles round trip) did offer a nice 4 mile option. The trail itself is exceptionally technical given the roots and rocks, but also had the added bonus of having some remaining snow which has converted to ice. I like to think of that as “extra bonus points”.
However, even more challenge was breathing. You know what happens at 5,000+ feet? I’ll tell you; this sea level dwelling asthmatic starts sucking for air. Ironically, though, this is one of the reasons why I wanted to do this hike. Utah isn’t going to be a cake walk, and I need to spend as much time as I can pushing myself at what altitude we have.
As I neared the summit (which by the way you can totally drive to nearly the summit if you want to) there was a group of teenagers who had just done the same 2 miles up I did. It was amusing for me to listen to them bitch. I’m fairly certain that’s why my Dad used his poke-a-hiney stick to keep us moving. Less kvetching that way. Suddenly my childhood makes sense!
When I saw the summit sign I was elated. Not because I was at the top. No. I’m kind of geography nerd. Ok, ok, I’ll own it; I’m a huge geography nerd; specifically unique spots on the planet. What I didn’t realize when I started my hike is that Mt. Mitchell is also the highest point east of the Mississippi! Hot diggity a twofer!!!
It was getting late and I didn’t want to do that hike back in the dark so I did what any runner would do. I ran down the mountain. Ok, truth, I ran down the parts of the trail that weren’t too technical or covered in ice. Truth be told, I did land on my ass once, but hey only once is amazing for this klutz. By the time I reached the car I was muddy, but very very happy. Mission accomplished!