Mt. Sherman – 14,036

After work was done for the day, I had a few hours to kill so thought I’d tackle another 14er — the 2nd in two days.  Mt. Sherman was less than an hours drive away, so off I went…

After driving about 10 miles on a long dirt road, you start to go up an old mining hill.  I parked about 11,500, well below the gate at 12,000, but it seemed like a good chance to get a nice downhill road run in for training for the Ridge To Bridge marathon in October.  I quickly started climbing the hill and the reached the gate, and then continued up eventually coming upon several abandoned mining buildings.

This is looking back down the valley and the road I had just climbed..

The valley from just a little higher:

The last little ridge line is a bit sketchy…  This was at 13,800′, and I really started thinking that 13,800 was good enough…  This was about 4′ of solid ground in the middle, but both sides of that were scree — and 500′ drops (or more?) to your death.  The picture really doesn’t do it justice to how precarious it looked!  I’m not normally affected by heights, but this one was giving me a slight sense of vertigo..

Another shot a bit further up.  I basically looked down at my feet and started moving.  I was ready to turn back, but eventually made it up without any difficulty.

This is looking back down… I really need a person in there so you can get a sense of how narrow that ridge is!



The summit!

Me… There was no one up there to take a picture, so it’s just me… This was the quietest 14’er I’ve ever done.  I only saw two groups of three all day…


Eight down, 46 more to go!


Mt. Quandary – 14,265′

I was in Keystone CO for work and had the opportunity to hike Mt. Quandary a short drive away.  I could not sleep so I was out the door a little before 6:00 a.m. and hiking by 6:30.  While I took the photo below on the way out, this was the 1st glimpse I had of the peak a few miles from the trail head.  I’d be hiking up that ridge line in just a bit!

Here’s the trail head sign… There were already 8 to 10 cars there — but there would be many many more when I left a few hours later…  And a sign with the most obvious statement of all — “There are no easy 14ers!”


There’s not much to report so I’ll just put in some random images below.  It took me about 2 hours 25 minutes to hike up, including the time to take photos along the way, chat with other hikers, etc.  It was a beautiful day and, as always, big mountains don’t disappoint with the views!  I’m always humbled by how slowly I move once over 13,000′!  It’s like slow motion up there…




Garmin Data here…

Grandfather Profile Up and Over and Back Again

Here is what I wrote on DailyMile, but I wanted to include some photos here…

Route was: Grandfather Profile -> Calloway, then Daniel Boone Scout down on the back side to just about the Boone Fork parking area on the Blue Ridge. Nuwati to Cragway and up around the Boone Bowl, back to Daniel Boone, back up to Calloway, and down the profile.

I had the mountain all to myself — because it was mid 50’s and POURING for much of the the run. :-/ Really wish I had more phone protection, though the iFit neoprene did somehow keep it safe enough. Maybe a poncho or a jacket would have been nice, though I only got cold the one time I stopped under a rock ledge because the rain was so intense.

Garmin distance was more like 11-ish but the trail markers show 13+. I did leave the Garmin off accidentally on one 10 or 15 minute section — when I had stopped under a rock ledge when it was raining really hard to try to protect the phone. I’m going with a “heavy half” of 14-ish. 🙂

Garmin does show 4000+ of climbing which would be about right.

Not many views with the clouds, other than the gorgeous trail:

Calloway Peak:

The first long down ladder on the back side…  You can never tell the steepness by photos:

Looking up:

Tame part of the trail down on the backside of Grandfather… The Nuwati…

Looking into the Boone Bowl:


Mid run snack…  A little early in the season, I suppose — only a couple of handfuls!


Nearing the top of Cragway:

More trail shots nearing the top of Cragway approaching Daniel Boone Scout:


After that it started POURING!  Really Really Pouring…  I had to wrap the phone up as best I could, double wrapping it in a neoprene iFit.  It still works, so that is good.  But I got no other pictures the next couple of hours!



Vivobarefoot Ultra




The text below is from an interview with the lead designer at Terra Plana…  I have to admit, I am loving this shoe and running in it a lot more than I thought I would.  I figured it would be a summer casual shoe, for walking around, maybe hiking, boating, paddling, etc.

But in the few weeks I have had it, I have been running on roads, trails, and the track.  I just completed a backpack weekend of 20 miles, that included an additional 8 miles of trail running.  The backpacking miles included something like 9 river crossings, and the shoe performed amazingly.

I would not run fast (race or tempo speeds) on the trails in them — just too much chance of a bruise from a stray root or rock.  But they were never meant for that.  This is perhaps the most versatile shoe I have ever worn.  I use them with the sock liner and without, and when without I have used it with and without the tongue insert.

Great shoe.



MRS: Let me start with the newly released Ultra. Tell me a little more about the dual density EVA.

AC: The product uses a modern EVA injection molding technique which enables you to inject a soft density EVA in the uppers and a higher density EVA on the outsole. This product (Ultra) is only possible using this method which is the reason the Ultra was born and exists today. The upper part of the ultra is durable but very soft allowing the foot to flex and move naturally. The outsole section is injected second and is 6mm thick, a lot more firm than the upper which is vital for the ground feedback. It is also special high abrasion EVA which has increased durability for heavier running specific use.

MRS: How is it different than the Evo, Evo II, and Neo?

AC: Evo and Neo are high abrasion rubber outsole running shoes. Although of course they are everything VIVOBAREFOOT: thin sole, zero cushioning, puncture resistant, zero heel-to-toe differential, anatomic wide toe box. They are made like a traditional running shoe – strobel stitched with cemented outsole. And of course, they are not amphibious and quite as light weight.

MRS: Who is this shoe designed for?

AC: We saw an opportunity in this process that we can create a product that would span across a lot of activities but fundamentally, it is an impossibly lightweight running shoe and the feedback is that key buyers are using it as a pretty serious running shoe. You can run in and out of water without water lock and the very nature of it is like a functional Crocs-like product that can be used on the beach or kick around summer shoe or as a travel shoe. We hope that this product will transcend the current barefoot niche and perhaps help take barefoot to consumers that were just looking for an active functional water shoe.

Haw River West “Scramble”

I’ve wanted to attempt this run for a while…  Turns out it is much more of a scramble than a run, as there is not a whole lot of trail.  Lots of bushwhacking, bouldering, and even a couple cliff climbs.

Here is what I wrote on Daily Mile:

Ouch! Brutal! Loved it! 🙂

That was much harder than I thought, even though I have done much of the southern sections of this route before, though not all at once. I had not been on the last 2.5 miles or so of the north part before the turn around at Bynum…

Lots of bushwhacking, a few cliff climbs, bouldering. In fact I’d guess that less than 35% of this is on a real trail. And once you pass the power line north of 64, there is NO trail.

I made it to about a quarter mile south of the old Bynum bridge, and I could see the dam at 15/501. But I turned there because I reached someone’s personal property. There were yellow signs showing the “state park” land but with the water as high as it was, I didn’t feel like trespassing. Never know who might pull a shot gun on you! (Next time I’ll just jump on Bynum Beech Road, which I ran next to for a bit.)

I experimented with Chia “fresca” as my only fuel. Two 20 oz bottles of 3-4 TB of chia seeds, a little lime juice, and a little honey, and the rest water.. I will need to try this again. I felt pretty dead by the end, but I can’t tell if that was the course beating it out of me or if it was Chia not fueling me as much as my normal fuel, pPerpetuem.

About 9 minutes slower on the way back, but some of that was route selection. Instead of going “up and over” I went down by the water and with the water level it more bouldering and climbing than I expected!

Looking forward to trying this on the “east” side soon!

Uhwarrie Mountain Run.

I had tried to get into this race the past few years — the 8 miler or the 20, but never registered in time.  The race typically fills up in 20- 30 minutes.  Due to a registration snafu, I got into the 20 miler twice this year.  I wasn’t sure I’d be ready to run 40, and thought 20 would be plenty.  For a while I thought I might give one of the entries to my sister.  But I also was looking for a reason to run the 40, and when she had plans come up, things fell into place.  All of the old Triangle AR guys were in the 40, and I’ve been running pretty well, so I thought why not go for it.  I could just use the ultra-shuffle to go that distance, right?

The trail and race is notoriously rugged.  Here is an elevation profile:

I’ve run some on the northern section (mile 0-5 or so), though not a whole lot on the trail as we were practicing for a Rogaine, and I had backpacked from the southern end solo last year (miles 20 to 5 or so), so I knew what I was getting into.  Lots of steep climbs, stream crossings (many with no bridges), some without stepping stones, etc.

The week prior Kelly and Reece had not been feeling well.  I used Airbornne all week to try and stay healthy, but the night before the race I got a tickle in my throat, my nose started running, and I just didn’t have much energy.  I went to bed at 8:30 but couldn’t really fall asleep until closer to 10:00.  Luckily on race day I awoke not feeling very sick after all.

I woke up at 3:52 a.m., 3 minutes before my alarm was due to go off.  I got up, made coffee, got dressed, forced down some oatmeal (I hate to eat that soon after waking), and I was out the door by 4:20 or so.

The 90 minute drive to Uhwarrie went by quickly as I jammed to some genius play-list, though I can’t for the life of me recall what song I seeded it with.  None-the-less it was good music and kept me awake.

I arrived at the Church shuttle parking lot a few minutes after 6 a.m.  This year, with the amount of rain there has been, the forrest service did not want racers parking at the start, which is really a trail head with very minimal parking anyway.  I went in to the church to use the facilities, gathered up the gear I wanted, threw on some body glide in the appropriate placeds, got in the shuttle bus, and was at the start by 6:30.

After I quick check-in, I attached my race number to my shorts, made some final gear selections, and hung out.  I ran into Charlie and met Sultan, whose blog I have followed for a while… Here is a link to his race report.

A couple minutes after 7:00 we headed to the road to listen to last minute instructions.   Due to the amount of rain and high streams, some of the crossings on the southern section were deemed too dangerous and we were told that at mile 14 we would have to leave the trail and run a gravel road to the turn-around.  This cut 6 miles of difficult trail out and put in 5 miles of relatively easy) road running in, thus shortening the 40 mile run to 38 and making it a bit easier.  We were also told that depending on conditions they may elect to call the run at 20, which would have been a major disappointment!

Just before the start I decided I should ditch my top layer, a mid weight wool shirt, and just keep my even lighter weight wool base shirt on.  As I ran the 30 meters back to my bag I heard “Get Set! Go!”  Uh-oh, here I am starting the race in last place!   No worries though in a 40 miler, in which my goal is to 1st finish, and then finish in under 10 hours.  (The 10 hour goal was before the course modifications had been put in place.)

The first 50 meters or so is on the paved road up to a short double track trail that then climbs a few hundred feet, before you hit the single track.  I passed some folks on the climb up before we hit the single track, and then settled into an easy pace, passing a few people here and there as the trail permitted.  About 3 miles in I dashed past a pack of 6 or so to get some separation so I could do my own thing.

From mile 4 – 9 or so, I ran with Shannon and we talked about a bunch of things, which passed the time.  She had a camera and took a few photos of me, which I’ve included in this post.

Crossing a stream.

Between 4 and 6 miles, snow started to fall and I began to worry about my choice of not wearing any kind of rain/snow shell.  At the last minute I had stuffed it in my turn-around bag, so I had 15 miles or so to go until I could get it, and if the snow turned to rain, I probably would have chilled pretty quickly.   But luckily, the snow stopped and it never rained.  It was beautiful running in the woods with big flakes of snow falling all around.

Shannon had a pretty good fall right after the stream crossing shown here, at about mile 9, and told me to go on.

Just before the aid station at mile 14, the two leaders of the 20 mile run came flyng up behind me – they had started an hour later.  I watched them run off and subsequently tripped and fell pretty hard on my right knee.  Now two days later I don’t know if it is my old patella-femoral syndrome that I feel or the fall!  I lean towards the fall since most of the pain is on the outside of the patella, not underneath, though the PFS is probably contributing a little.

Mile 14 is where we turned on to the 5 mile gravel road instead of continuing on the 6 miles of trail.  Who knows how bad the trail was, but at the end of the day I trust the RD’s.  They put on a great race in not so great conditions, had 8 aid stations well stocked with supplies and volunteers, etc.  And while I would have loved to do the full trail, I still had a great time on the modified course.  Here is the elevation data from the Garmin, which you can compare to the normal course elevation shown above.  Miles 14 – 23 or so are the gravel road…  As you can see pretty level compared to the rest of the course!

The thing with the road, for me, at least, was that I had planned on walking all the steep hills on the trail.  The road, however, only had gradual inclines and declines.  So I ran just about the whole 10 miles, which again, was not really in my race plan and not how I trained.  Watching my average pace on the Garmin showed me go from about a 12:30 minute per mile average down to 11:40 by the turn around, so it was clearly a lot faster.

Only 2 or 3 more twenty milers passed me on the road up to their finish and my turn around.  I was starting to get concerned that maybe the 40 milers were being pulled from the course at the turn, but finally I saw another 40 miler coming back.  And then another, and another, and another… Good, the full race was on!

At the turn around I just put on new socks and grabbed my two extra fuel bottles.  My fueling strategy for this run was to use two 20 oz bottles filled with perpetuem mixed very thickly with water for each half …  One in my hand with water, the other in the pack with just powder, and then drink water at each aid station to dilute it.  I ended up diluting the mix in the bottles by filling them with water at each station.  This strategy worked well and I only had a tiny bit of solid food… About 3/4’s of a bananna at the turn-around; less than one pack of cliff shots, and one hammer gel single serving.  The rest of the run was fueld by my liquid diet of Perpetuem and two or three swallows of Heed the aid stations had.  (About 600 calories per bottle, 4 bottles total, and I never even drank from the 4th bottle!)

Shannon came in to the turn-around and said her leg was fine, and was back out on the road pretty quickly.  After the turn, it was 5 miles back on the gravel road.  I saw many more 20 and 40 milers heading towards the finish/turn, but I could not wait to be back on the trail.  I was really getting sick of the roads!

Sometime around mile 25 or so, a lady in purple came up behind me and we ran together for a while.  She said “that was impressive” when I crossed a stream on high, slipperly log.  I looked back to see her in water up to her thighs, and thought my way was the  better choice.  🙂  After the stream I told her to pass me and she was gone.  She was running some really technical trail like she was a mountain goat — she made it look so easy!  I on the other hand had to walk through some of this section.

From that point on there’s not much to report.  I passed a couple runners, and at least one passed me.  I was just marking time to the aid stations and the finish.

Coming down to the finish is a really rocky section… I was trying to push it to finish in under 8 hours, but it was tough to run here!  I finally came down the last steep descent to finish in something like 7:58.  Here I am coming to the line.  I was trying to make sure my race number was showing so I could find the photo later!  :-/

My goal for the original course was to #1 — finish, and if I finished, to break 10 hours.  I think a 9 hour finish on the original course might have been possible, but pretty tight.  We did a little under 38 miles, and about 9 – 10 of that was on roads.  The roads were definitely easier and faster, though by how much is hard to say.  So add 25-30 minutes for the extra distance, and another 25-30 minutes for the added difficulty, and 9 may have been in reach.

There’s always next year to see!  However, I would really like to do the Mt Mitchell challenge which is another 40 mile run from the town of Black Mountain to the top of Mt. Mitchell and back.  But it is a couple of weeks after Uhwarrie, and I can only handle one of these that close together!

Click here to see the Garmin GPS data…

Trails of Chatham County: Briar Chapel

Location: See Map

Description: Briar Chapel is a new “mega” development in Chatham County.  They plan on miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, so that is great for those of us close enough by to use them!  I’ve only been out here a few times.  Right now there are a combination of double track/fire road and single track.  The mountain bike trails can be quite technical and difficult for non experienced riders!  They are tight and twisty, with lots of rocks and roots.  The trail itself, when you are on it, is un-blazed but not difficult to follow.  The difficulty comes from mixing and matching the fire roads and single track into one cohesive hike/run.  You can park in the neighborhood itself where there is a marquee, though the trail map leaves a lot to be desired.  The GPS track below shows parking at the construction area of the new school off Andrews Store road, just past Woods Charter.  The single track on the back side of Woods Charter is quite nice, while the single track in the neighborhood on the south side of the “parkway” is quite technical.  There is also the trail along the power lines, which in the summer I understand is over grown — so watch out for ticks and chiggers.

Distance: This is a bit hard to say…  You can make it pretty long, if you want.  The GPS track below shows about 6 miles.  You can also make it short depending on where you park and the route you choose.

Difficulty: This again is hard to say.  There are sections of the single track that are quite technical.  There are also several decent hills mixed in — while none are that long, a couple are pretty steep.



None taken…

Trails of Chatham County: Seaforth at Jordan Lake


Directions: See Map above

Distance: 1.4 mile loop

Difficulty: Easy

Description: This is a nice one if you have younger children.  It is short at 1.4 miles, has a playground, a beach, and a sand volleyball court.  There are also numerous picnic tables, grills, and one large shelter.   While 1.4 miles is short, it is not a bad trail to run two or three times.  There is almost no elevation change on the entire trail.  The only real problem with this trail is that when the lake water level is high, the western portion of the loop may be under water, even the board walk they have built because of this.

GPS track:

(Not sure why but Google Earth shows “Seaforth Lake.”  It is definitely Jordan Lake… Just Seaforth Recreational Area.)


Marque at the trailhead, showing the map, among other things.

The start of the “boardwalk:”

The boardwalk, under water on the day I went:

View of US 64 from the west side of the loop:

The large shelter:

You can see the “smoke stack” from Sharon Harris Nuclear Plant at the beach and playground area:

Part of the playground:

Trails of Chatham County: TLC White Pines


Web Site:

Directions: (I’m copying this from the TLC site as it seems a bit tricky getting there the 1st time!)

From Pittsboro: Go south on US 15-501 for 8 miles from the Chatham County Courthouse traffic circle. Turn left on River Fork Road (SR 1958), the first left after crossing the Rocky River bridge. On River Fork Road, turn right immediately and proceed for 1.7 miles. Turn right at the stop sign and continue 0.5 miles to the TLC Preserve sign. Turn left and drive about 1/8 mile to the parking area on your right. More parking is available through the small lot, under the powerline.

Distance: ~ 3 miles (if you do all the trails)

Difficulty: moderate (a couple steep climbs but relatively short)

Description: Quite secluded — the drive back seems like you are going quite a ways in.  Gorgeous land and it is cool to see where the two rivers merge — especially when water is flowing fast after a good rain, but then it will be muddy.  Bugs can be bad in the summer.  There are different trails and if you want to do them all, you have to double back on a few of them.

Map of trails from TLC (click for larger image):

GPS track:

In order to get all the trails on the GPS track, I had to double back a few times (e.g. the Comet Trail, part of the White Pines Trail).


When you park at the trail heads you have a couple options on which way to go.  This shows the marquee and the start of the White Pines Trail, and a down tree blocking the start of one of the trails.  But it is easy to get around.  There are normally a good supply of information booklets in the marquee, and they have the map included above…

If you take the School Kids “loop” near the bottom and by the Rocky River, you come up on an old cable bridge… not much to see except one of the cables and the river these days.

The benches at the David Howells memorial…  This site sits high and sort of overlooks the Rocky, but even in the fall and winter the trees are pretty dense so the view is limited.

Lots of vernal pools depending on the season and how much rain we’ve had…

Here is the other option you have at the start.  This is really the Gilbert Yager Trail, not the River trail.  The sign is saying the River trail is 1 mile away.  I did not get that the 1st time I read it.

Trails of Chatham County: Haw River @ US 64 West


You can park at US 64 and the Haw River “intersection” on the West side of the river, and hike north or south; or park at the Robeson Creek Canoe Access point off Hanks Chapel Road and hike north.

Level: moderate to strenuous depending on water conditions and how far off trail/river you have to go…  South of 64 there are some “cliffs” you may have to climb up and over depending on route selection

Description: unofficial and unmaintained, or at best “semi” maintained by the boaters and fishermen that use this section… (And you will occasionally run in to hikers, but not often in my experience.)  No markers on the trails, and while most sections are obvious, some are not.  Just keep the river on the East and don’t wander too far west and you should not get lost.

North and South (partial) GPS markers:

Here are GPS tracks on both the north and south side.  The south side is only a partial as the water level was too high (10 feet, just under flood level, on the USGS Bynum Gauge) to make it all the way to Gabriel’s Bend.  (Well, at least with the two kids with me!)

(North zoomed in)

A bit more detail on the north end…   There are some sections that may be a bit of a bushwhack depending on conditions.  Just keep the river on the east side of you and you can’t get lost.  I.e. don’t wander too far to the west.  I think I could make it all the way to 15/501 on this path and hope to try it some day.   There is a split just north of 64 that leads you up and over/around a section of the river that will not be passible in high water (perhaps 6-7 feet on the gauge).  I went both ways so both routes would be visible in the GPS track, but again, the lower section is much less defined and at points you are on rocks on the edge of the river.

South (partial) zoomed in…

Again, could not make it all the way to US 64 this day, but I will update this the next time I make the whole route.    Normally when you park at Robeson creek you do not have to head as far away from the river as the image below shows, but the water was very high this day, just under 11 feet or flood level on the Bynum Gauge. (Of course the water level is not shown in this satellite image)… When the water is is high, the section near the parking lot is under water.  Due to the high water there was a lot of off trail hiking as you can tell from the two slightly different routes on the out and back.

Photos (North of 64):

Some of the sites you will see on

If you choose to go the “low” route, or the route closer to the river than up and over, it becomes much less of a trail, and in some places more of a bushwhack and/or scramble.  If the water is high, this section would not be passible.  Check the USGS Bynum Guage.  Anything over 6 ft and your probably will need to swim it.  I.e. don’t do it!

This is what I call a “wash up,” which is where all the trash that comes down river on a big rain ends up.  I’d like to go back and clean this up one day.

This is what I wore out when I took the GPS on the north section..  It was a bit muddy!

Photos (south of 64):

South of 64 is the most popular white water rafting section of the Haw, though you will see some on the section north of the river as well.