Sunday, June 15, 2014

Gnarly, dude!

This is Horse Rock Meadow at the top of the Blacks. From our side, you get there on the Woody Ridge Trail, which is ridiculously steep (3100 feet of elevation change over 2.2 miles). A couple of weeks ago, Nancy and Linda and I got up early and hiked to the meadow so we could watch the runners in the Quest for the Crest, a 10 kilometer race that started at the top of White Oak Creek Road (near Mountain Gardens) and ended on Bolens Creek Road over on the other side of the Blacks.

The organizer of the race promoted it as "The World's Hardest 10K" and the description of the event included this claim: "The Black Mountains are the HIGHEST mountain chain EAST of the Rockies. They are arguably the gnarliest as well."

It took us the usual 2-1/2 hours to get to the top.  The guy in the picture above was the race leader (ahead by about 5 minutes when he passed us), who made it to the top in 45 minutes. It was kind of hard to wrap my mind around.

Our own Tal Galton, who might be the Woody Ridge Trail's most frequent climber, got to the meadow in just under an hour.

Sean, the affable (and dragon-tattooed) organizer was among the first few to make it to the top, where he stayed and greeted everyone else as they crossed the meadow. "How was the climb, bro?" "Awesome, dude!"

There was one water stop, about a mile down the Bolen's Creek side. When this woman passed there, she declared that she was having a fantastic time. She still had three miles of running left....but it was all downhill.

Nancy and I walked back down Woody Ridge and found, somewhat to our surprise, minimal damage to the trail. If it had been raining, however, it might have been a different story.

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