Fri, Mar 24 2017 - Arkaquah Trail: Track Rock Gap to Brasstown Bald and back (View Original Event Details)|
|Participants:||Laura, LindseyW, Debra W, Jean, Lisa, SusanF|
The Arkaquah Trail up to Brasstown Bald is not just any walk in the woods. It’s a test for most who hike it. The infamous first mile and a half, thousand foot climb, will gauge one’s conditioning in a heartbeat, a rapid one at that. I had heard about this trail for a few years and knew someday I would hike it. But for some perhaps unconscious reason, I was avoiding it. As a PTL on my third co-lead, it was time to step up to the plate to lead my first D5. My co-leader, a hiking athlete and very familiar with the trail, said it was a good, strong D5. I have hiked with her before and with confidence she said to go for it. So I posted it and found myself committed. (Not quite so confident, I did have half-a-notion to cancel the hike with an “I was just kidding” explanation -- end of my Trip Leader ambitions.) The morning of, it must have been another unconscious avoidance that led me to the wrong park and ride carpool two exists away from the one posted. With a gracious “where are you” phone call, I quickly zipped down the two exists and we got back on track. Among the many conversations on the way to the trail, we shared experiences and opinions about the upcoming hike. One of us was going on and on about the endless switchbacks. Another, was seeking ‘revenge’. I was just hoping somebody knew CPR. We even expanded our hiking vocabulary by learning a new word – “sandbagging” (downplaying one’s ability). We got to the trail head and I volunteered to sweep, figuring if I got far enough behind I could bail. My co-leader insisted I lead and not twenty yards in I stepped in a canine trail treat, if you know what I mean. This was another reason I like to sweep and not a good sign. To my amazement, the scores of D3, D4 and a couple of D5s I had been on since joining AOC six months ago had strengthened my lungs. I could feel my stronger thighs and glutes lift me up the mountain even as they burned a bit. I stopped for a moment half way up to look back and to my surprise I did not cause a pile up on the trail. I was actually ten yards ahead of the next person. I had arrived. I was a true D5er. The rest of the hike was very enjoyable, navigating our way through the varied terrain, lifting ourselves through the clouds up to the top of Brasstown Bald. As the highest mountain in Georgia tends to cause its own weather, we had mist, a little drizzle, periodic wind gusts and a few flashes of sunshine. A quick lunch replenished us and back we went. I redeemed my wrong park and ride faux pas by rescuing a stray water bottle that had slipped out of a hike mates pocket and slid ten yards down the mountain. I slid down after it hoping not to be the trace that got left behind. It was a fun group, a challenging hike, and we even learned a final trail word, no “lollygagging”. On to my first solo!