Mount Mitchell Challenge

Mitchell with a crown of clouds

Mitchell with a crown of clouds

In a matter of weeks, the annual Black Mountain Marathon and Mount Mitchell Challenge participants will come together to face a grueling journey at 7 a.m. on Saturday, February 22.  The Challengers will ascend 40 miles to the highest peak in the East – elevation 6,684 – and retrace the path back to the start/finish area.  Marathoners will run up to the Black Mountain Gap overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway and retrace the route to finish.

The Mt. Mitchell Challenge is both historical and arduous.  The race was founded in 1998 by Wendell Begley (of Black Mountain Savings) and Trent Thomas (from Black Dome Mountain Sports).  They saw the need for a race designed to confront the challenges of nature with test of physical proportions, yet possible.  Race terrain is not only steep, but mother nature offers challenges that could include ice, snow, rain, cold, and wildlife. Runner safety is of paramount concern to race coordinators who work with Black Mountain Fire and Rescue and many other skilled members from surrounding counties.

h20 bottleBest to all of this years participants, and stop by Take A Hike for last minute needs!

The Blue Ridge Parkway

Caney Fork Overlook  Elevation 5650

Caney Fork Overlook
Elevation 5650

I set out for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway a couple of weekends ago from East Asheville to Balsam Gap, NC.  It was a Jeep top-down kind of day on the dawn of it being officially fall.

I’ve lived in Asheville for 17 years, which I can hardly believe.  In those 17 years I have been on the BRP countless times, especially as a means of escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life down below. When I was in college the parkway was a dear friend that served to nurture my need for comfort on countless levels.  Not much has changed.  I still go up there to get comfort that my soul just can’t find at lower altitudes.  When I ascend the hills it is spiritual, and it was particularly so on this clear crisp day in mid September.

I honestly don’t ever remember a time like it – the clarity of the mountain terrain was surreal as the layers rippled out for miles, one atop the next.  At one point I just sat down in the grass and this was the sight that my eyes beheld, and even this picture does it little justice. It was the moment itself that enveloped me.  A moment in which I wasn’t thinking at all about work, decisions, bills, loved one’s, unknowns, or much of anything else.  I was present to the reality that I was alive to behold this moment one breath at a time, and a truly beautiful one it was.  Then I was struck with the truth sitting there looking out over the Blue’s, that it just doesn’t get any better than that down here.

Go do your heart some good and go for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, or Take A Hike.  Rest assured it will make the rest of the hours in your week that much lighter!