Less than three weeks until the big event. I guess you could say we are entering the “home stretch.” I have completed two long training hikes since my last dispatch; Latta Plantation Park on April 21st and Crowders Mountain State Park on April 28th. The Latta hike was about 17 miles, and while there is not much elevation change on those trails, portions are very rocky and require concentration and footwork. To get 17 miles, I hiked virtually the entire trail system, including the Hill, Split Rock, Catawba and Piedmont Prairie trails. I even hiked one section of horse trail, connecting the Gar Creek Access back to the Welcome Center, that I had never been on before. It was also the first training hike which raised an ugly blister! I have been experiencing my fair share of foot pain, but hadn’t blistered until that hike.On the 28th, I hiked 18 miles along the Pinnacle and Ridgeline trails at Crowders Mountain State Park. I decided to try an afternoon/evening hike for a change of pace. The Pinnacle trail is fairly strenuous, with a steep grade and lots of rock fields, and starting later in the day I had difficulty finding my stride. It was also a cool and humid day which created a chill until I was completely warmed up. That footwork I had practiced the week before at Latta was certaily put to good use. The Ridgeline trail is an out-and-back, and since I knew the park closed at 8:00 PM, I had a strict turn-around time of 4:00 PM. I was actually hoping to get a bit closer to 20 miles, but made the turn just shy of the nine mile mark.
To get acclimated to the 5:00 AM Ultimate Hike start time I am going to do my last two short hikes in the morning, starting this week. I have a long group training hike on May 5th at Crowders Mountain and one last long training hike at Latta on the 12th. Once that hike is completed, I will take the entire week of the 12th off to rest up for the Ultimate Hike on the 19th.
I did get a little more good press over the past couple of weeks, with a short mention in the Lake Norman Citizen, which you can read here.
One last round of support emails will go out this week. I still have about $800 to go to achieve my goal of $2,500, so time is getting just a little short.
I had planned for a couple hours of work in the garden last night, but did not count on spending that time prepping for a possible frost/freeze. Not a bad situation, really, as my tender plants are still in the greenhouse, with the exception of a few marigolds and begonias and a lone cherry tomato I just couldn’t help “jumping the gun” with. The only plants I actually have in the ground are root vegetables which should be able to tolerate a light frost. As a precaution, I brought my hanging baskets in off the porch, but in that sheltered area I don’t imagine a little frost would get to them. The published “safe” date for frost in this part of North Carolina is April 24th, and I am planning to transplant my tomatoes, peppers and eggplants from the greenhouse into the raised bed over the next couple of weeks. Let’s hope this is the last cold snap we see until sometime around Halloween.
My training hike at Kings Mountain State Park this past Saturday (4/7/12) was certainly the most “rugged” of my treks so far. The trail I hiked wound through both the State Park and the National Park, which are adjecent to each other on the North Carolina/South Carolina border near Gastonia. The National Park portion of the trail was better maintained with a clearly defined and well-cleared path. The State Park portion of the trail, on the other hand, was about as rough as any trail I’ve seen. Several large deadfalls required substantial climbing, crawling and scampering, while numerous stream crossings and muddy bottoms resulted in some wet and muddy boots. At times the trail was almost completly overgrown and difficult to follow. At one point after navigating a small stream and deadfall I got off the main trail for about a quarter mile and had to backtrack. As a result, my average time per mile was just over 21 minutes, or about a minute longer than my target. It was, however, a good training experience, in that I had to overcome a wide variety of obstacles in order to finish. I don’t expect the Foothills Trail to be quite so rough, but I know I will be prepared for just about any conditions.
I had a great training hike at South Mountains State Park on Saturday (3/31/2012). It was raining when I left Huntersville for the 90 minute drive to the park, but by the time I arrived the skies had cleared and the sun had warmed into the low 70’s. I started off on the Chestnut Knob trail, which Janet, Kasay and I hiked last October. The first mile of that trail is almost vertical, and it took me a while to get my legs under me after the drive. I stopped briefly at the Chestnut Knob Overlook to take some pictures and record a video message for my supporters. Moving on, I connected to the CCC trail and followed that all the way to the Sawtooth Campsites. This is a primitive camping area in a large grassy field. Backtracking a bit, I connected to the Horse Ridge Trail and followed that for several miles, taking a short break at about the 6 mile mark. The Horse Ridge Trail connected with the Turkey Ridge Trail, which I followed all the way back to the equestrian parking lot, where I took another short break at the 10 mile mark. I then followed the main park road out past the welcome center and backtracked to the Jacobs Creek parking lot. Overall, I averaged about 20 minutes per mile over the 14.5 miles hiked.
On Thursday, March 29th, I will be participating in the Statesville Business Expo on Behalf of CureSearch and Ultimate Hike 2012. I will be in the Sir Speedy booth from 11:30 AM until 1:00PM, handing out brochures and prizes, and answering questions about Ultimate Hike. I will also be accepting donations in “the boot” on behalf of CureSearch.
This year’s expo is back at the Statesville Civic Center where more than 50 local businesses will be showcasing their products and services. Come out and enjoy the networking atmosphere, attend seminars, and enjoy onsite demonstrations. Lunch is available for purchase from Lone Star Steakhouse and The 220 Café. And, of course, be sure to stop by the Sir Speedy booth and say hello.