Labor Day Weekend

Day 165 / Roan Trip

Instead of running 50 miles last week I hiked/backpacked 50 miles on Roan Highlands. It was the longest backpacking trip I did, totalling 4 days.

I started on Thursday after work. My friend and I drove 7 hours down to Tennessee. We did not quite get there. We ended up at Damascus, Virginia and we were going to camp at a campground but unfortunately the ranger told us the it was full and we were not allowed to camp (at the picnic pavilion).

So we continued driving hoping to reach our destination by midnight and hopefully still able to set up tent camping at the Mountain Harbour hostel, where we would leave our car.

We passed by the Cherokee National Park on our way and we decided turned off the road did a stealth camping there. We survived the night uneventful (yes but, we almost ran over a bear when a cub ran toward our car). Bears are my friend’s mascot and she would have been heart broken.

The next day we continued on our trip. We came across a beautiful sight at Lake Watauga. It was a foggy morning. We got to experience the Smoky Mountain without having to go to the Smoky.

We arrived at the Mountain Harbour Hostel and we left our car and took a shuttle to Ervin, TN about 50 miles away. They dropped us off at the trail head. We hiked the Appalachian Trail back to Mountain Harbour Hostel (Hwy 19E), passing Roan Mnt and Carver Gap on the way.

There were many hard climbs. There were miles of uphills. The highest point was Roan Mountain at 6000 ft, which we reached on Sunday. There were many stunning sights. Tennessee is unlike anything we have seen in Virginia. My friend said after hiking in Tennessee and coming back to Virginia, mountains here are like hills. They are flat in comparison.

Physically, I was not too tired from the trip. The trip was hard but nothing compare to the runs I have been doing. I am physically fit and strong.

I learned from the trip to bring more water, food, and to be better at find paths. I got a chance to lead on the first day where I was the designated person to sweep the trail of snakes. We didn’t see any (at least not me) but people spotted coperheads and big black snakes.

Most importantly I should not have left my hiking boots at home. I was tripping and falling the whole weekend. My left ankle is kind of messed up. I hope I can still run a marathon this weekend.

There is no word for me to describe the trip. It was magical. The weather cooperated. The experience could have been like the time I went to Peru except that I felt it is less so because it is closer to home and it is always available for me to go back.

I like it the trip not so much about the sights but the time I was able to spent with my friend. It is worth a million to see the smile and joy on her face as she glazed at the sunrise or sunset each day while we were on the trip.

I tried to make every effort to go on every hiking trips she plans but I know the chance of doing that is less and less as I am ramping up my effort and focusing more toward my running. Boo, she said. It is certainly I could go back to Roan Mountain any time but not every time I get to go with my friend. Running is still my passion and everything.

I made many other sacrifices for my running and many of those I gladly made without a second thought but giving up on backpacking with my friend, is almost unimaginable painful. I tried to combine running with backpacking, though so far I was not able to pull it off.

On this last trip, I brought my running hydration vest and shoes, but in the end, I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my friend at the camp at the end of the day while I do my miles. My running would have been just as long as the hike itself and it seems so silly to hike the trail during the day and then run the whole thing over, while the others sleep/rest – I wouldn’t mind but I would make others worry about me.

It is almost time to put backpacking away. I took up backpacking to help me be a better runner/ now trail running. I have reached my goal and I have become a stronger runner.

Filler post

Day 149

Sometimes in TV shows or especially in long anime series, they would put in fillers because the writer needs some time off.

I hope this is not a filler but I don’t really have anything in particular I want to write about. Maybe it is a filler.

I just finished my last dose of my medication. I should be completely rid of the Lyme causing bacteria in my body. How can you tell? People asked if I am to see a doctor again to have them declare that I am healed. Nope. Or Maybe. There is no more blood test as far as I know that can show that I am bacteria free. I am not sure if they can tell, but base on what I read about how they test for Lyme disease they can’t. Many people seem surprised by this.

I am tired from the past trips. I haven’t unpacked my things yet. Last night though, I did laundry. I won’t say much but that were a lot of clothes. Any way, the next trip seems to be challenging in term of navigating because there seemed to be lack of map and direction. So last night, I opened the map of the place. Indeed we will travel off the map for part of the hike. Some of the trails we will be using are not shown on my map because they are not officially recognized trails. We will be doing some bushwalking too. Even the leader of the hike is saying, let hope we won’t get lost. I don’t think we will get completely lost, but we might make a false turn here and there. And by the way, we will hike a bit in the dark. Luckily, I think the moon is up. Where are we going? Dolly Sod, especially, the southern part called Roaring Plain.

VA Beach

Day 148 / False Cape

It was a long weekend. I took Friday off to drive down to Virginia Beach for the weekend. The three and half hours drive became close to six hours because of the traffic. The place was farther than I remembered. I was there six months ago for a marathon (First Landing Seashore 50 K). I was stuck in traffic in the DC area trying to get out of town. We moved about 18 miles and that took almost two hours. I was stuck in traffic when I arrived. It took an hour to just move three miles to cross the Hampton Rd Bridge Tunnel. Weird name. It is partly a bridge and a section of it is a tunnel. I sat there in traffic for an hour contemplation about the bridge and other cars around me. It seemed everyone is going to the beach.

I arrived at the first landing state park campground and settled in. Set up and everything was a breeze to me. I am used to ‘primitive’ camping so family/car camping is like living in a hotel for me.

I went there for a weekend event with a meetup group. I know the leader from previous trips I did. We walked along the Bay. I liked my campsite. Virginia Beach is in an urban area. We went out for dinner. I packed some Mountain House (dehydrated food) I ended up using those just for breakfast. For dinners and lunches we ate out.

The next day, we biked in First Landing State Park. I ran there before and was familiar with the trail. It was not a race. We stopped along the way to look at birds and flowers. It was my first time doing bird watching. We saw snowy egrets, indigo buntings, and grey heron. We wanted to find snakes too. We heard cottonmouth or water moccasins are native in the area, so we tried to spot them. They are venomous.

On the last day, we drove to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, located in southern end of Virginia Beach. We biked into False Cape State Park. Biking and hiking in is the only way to reach False Cape. You could also take a tour bus called a tram. It is the most prestine beach in Virginia. No one was there, at least we saw no one on the beach. It borders North Carolina. We actually crossed to the North Carolina jus to say we did it. There is a fence between the two states.

We hiked along the beach to get to where we left our bikes.

I am not a travel blogger and didn’t take any pictures. But here is the Garmin tracker that showed I’ve been near the NC border. I think they built a fence to keep NC beach goers out of the Virginia side and it works. You could see on the NC side, people drive their trucks in and there are condos and houses, but across to the VA side, there is nothing for miles. The beach on the VA side has nobody. The fence has a little gate for people to go across but no one crosses into the VA side.