Back on the Bartram Trail

I took a little time for myself last Friday, working on my long-term goal of completing all of the NC Bartram Trail. This is a slow business given that I average about 1 day a year on the trail—and I have to do out-and-backs. Last year I completed the ~20 mi section from the NC/GA border through the Fishhawk Mountains. The Bartram then turns into a canoe trail (or roads, if you haven’t a canoe) for 15 mi.

Today I picked up the trail again outside of Franklin. This is the section that starts on the other side of the NC Bartram Trail map. It was not quite as scenic as the Fishhawks or Scaly, but I ran through some really beautiful cove and montane oak hickory forest and one open glade over rock.

I drove from Cullowhee, where I was staying for the Native Plants Conference and arrived around 9 to see a few cars in the parking lot. One van had the windows open and a person wrapped up in a blanket, presumably sleeping. I noticed empty pizza boxes on the dash and presumed that it was likely a student and not someone likely to murder me or break into my car.

Some nice wildflowers along the trail, which stayed in the woods. Perhaps surprisingly, there’s a lull in the bloom season in mid-summer. This would be a truly wonderful floriferous section in mid-April. It was only 11:00 when I got to Harrison Gap, my planned turnaround point. I paused and considered carefully. Only 2 hours to get here at 5.5 miles, and Wayah Bald was another 5.1 miles. It was more climbing, but if I got there at 1:00, and it took me 4 hours to get back (it’s a net gain of 3000 ft. to go all the way to Wayah, so certainly faster coming back), I could still be at my car at 5:00. Also, I had a headlamp, an emergency blanket, and an extra Clif bar.

That would give me nearly ~22 miles of mountain running in total, with a net gain of 3000 ft (but in reality, since the trail climbs and descends many times, it’s much higher). I haven’t run much past 10 miles since spring, so it was most definitely a poor idea. Runs with Scissors Meets Voice of Reason. Reluctantly, I turned around.

11 miles run to add 5.5 mi of completed trail. Next time I get to run to Wayah Bald! I love how remote this trail feels.

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