Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Tanawha 2009?

JJ and I had planned on joining the WNC runners on the Tanawha trail adventure this past Saturday, but with snowy forecasts for the area we decided to stick close to home. The Tanawha is an awesome trail if you ever get the chance to check it out don't pass it up. When I lived in boone back in the good ole college days before my running days I did many a hike there and on the Boone Fork Trail which connects up around Price Park. Such a great area for exploring and Price Park is a very popular picnic spot along the Blue Ridge Parkway where you can set up "base camp". Rick, Doug, Dennis and I did a Tanawha play day in 2009 and had a blast.
Friday night after making the final decision to stay home I contacted Joey who had shown interest in running around damascus and set up an alternative plan. I would pick JJ up @ 8:30, get to Joey's around 9am and then we would head up to do our Beartree Loop. Everything went according to plan and we were even able to drive the MINI to dtown and then hop in Joey's truck just in case the roads were worse on up the mountain. The ride up 58 along the creek was beautiful.
We got to FS832 (our normal parking/start/finish) and realized finding a place we could park without getting stuck was going to be a challenge. The entrance to Beartree was also deep and we weren't sure about blocking the entrance, beartree gap pullover was also deep so we thought maybe on down to the straight mtn. trailhead?? got there to find 2 VDOT trucks, 1 broken down and the other pulling out to plow on up towards Konnarock. He didn't advise we park there either as they might be coming back to try and tow the dead truck later on. We turned around and decided we would just have to make it work at beartree gap. 
We got "parked", geared up, and decided we would start up straight mountain first and end back at beartree gap with option to bail halfway and come back up the road. We ran back down the road to the vdot truck and headed up the trail.
WOW was the snow deep. We were all a little surprised at how much there was once you got back in the woods. I was immediately huffing and puffing. The climb up to the ridgeline was laborious but I remember back to summer and how it isn't easy then either and I'm usually hiking then as well. It started to snow again as we made out way up. We get to the top and the sky starts to break up giving quite the show of crystal blue sky, highlighting the grey snow covered ridges in the distance.  The wind was blustery on the ridgeline, and had created some nice drifts that ca
me up to my knees. Motivation to keep moving was the sweet downhill on the other side and as we approach the decent, Joey does a happy dance. I go on down to catch some video of he and JJ, breaking fresh snow on one of my favorite trails, so happy to be out. We can't stop trying to capture the splendor of it all with our digital devices, we want everyone who is missing out on this to be able to see it in all it's glory, but it's impossible.

We pop out at beartree lake and the sky is blue, seems like a nice spot for a group photo. We knock the heavy snow balls off our ankles and head up the road to the Shaw Gap Trl. One step and we realize this will be more like ice skating, the pavement underneath the snow is a sheet of ice. JJ takes a side to side approach to running up the road and I have to laugh as we weave back and forth single file fashion.
I grab my camera to document the train and I've already reached capacity (stupid small SD card). as I tuck the camera away for good I realize the beautiful blue sky has turned a dark grey, that didn't last long.  We pass thru the campsite that is normally home to the campground host to access the trail and we are in awe of the amount of snow piled up on the concrete picnic table.  I have to dream of the sweet downhill on beartree gap trl to propel me up to shaws gap. I just ate my only gel and I'm realizing its going to take more than 1 gel to get thru this?? We take a breather at shaws gap and I think it's a perfect chance to put down a snow angel. The guys don't humor me, something about it being to cold to get on the ground, huh sissy's. beartree gap trl is the beez kneez and as if I wasn't already pumped it started to SNOW again :) yippeee I think JJ was feeling it too because he leaving Joey and I in the dust. Joey came to the realization his hands were about frozen as we approached the road. I had some extra gloves so we did a switcharoo and got his phalanges nice and toasty again. That gel I had eaten was already burnt up so I pulled out some chewies when we got to the road. We passed up our chance to go back to the truck and headed on to FS832. It was slow moving up the road and I could feel my lack of calories catching up to me, I sensed that Joey might be dwindling as well as he eyed my chewies and asked if he could grab a few and then commented on how delicious they were, haha.
The last time Jenny and I ran this section I confirmed a "shortcut" trail that we had passed by many times so as we got close I suggested that maybe we should take it. Joey's eyes lit up at the mention of cutting it short and I was glad I wasn't alone. We cut over to the AT and headed back. There was some sweet downhill and one more climb/ridgeline scramble before we were back to the truck. Those last few steps I felt like a was carrying 10 lb weights on each ankle. I think we were out something like 3hrs.

I was warm the entire time in smartwool knee high ski socks, tights, pants, smartwool top, vest, patagonia torrent jacket, smartwool balaklava, hat with ear flaps, gloves. As soon as we stopped and started to strip off the wet cloths I was freezing, it was all I could do to get my shoes off my hands were iceburgs. I chugged some bolthouse farms cappuccino protein drink but was still about to die when we got to Whistlepig. I wanted one of everything on the menu but settled for a blackened hamburger with everything including jalapenos and some homemade onion rings that are to die for. Roger and Cindy the owners and Gypsy, one of our favorite locals laughed at our deteriorated state. I finally started to feel normal again after eating and enjoying a newcastle. The cold really takes it out of you, but it was worth every step!


  1. looks like you all had a wintery adventurous run as well this weekend! Hate that you weren't able to make it out to Tanawha.

  2. Spectacular!! Ohhhh I wish I could have been there with you all! What fun!

  3. Oh what fun. I can tell you three just had a ball and I am glad you got in a major snow run. Funny how you were breathing hard in the last part of the video. By the way, the boys do lack some adventure since they were unwilling to make a snow angel! So happy you all had fun.

  4. That was great. Best snow run evah!