Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Table Rock, NC

It is hard to find inspiration in the midst of tragedy. 

On November 3, 2013 James and I and my soon to be father-in-law set out to hike Table Rock. We had a beautiful day and perfect cool fall hiking weather! 

We had planned to share a post all about Table Rock and its amazing hikes, breathtaking views and great camp sites. Table Rock always has been and always will be one of my favorite places in North Carolina. I climbed, repelled and camped here as a teenager and have enjoyed numerous hikes as picnics here as an adult. I have some great stories and some scary stories from my visits to this mountain all of which are some of my very favorite stories to tell.

Unfortunately nine days after our hike, on November 12th, the beautiful mountain was engulfed in wild fire. Our hearts have been broken. Officials anticipated complete containment as of yesterday. I have not heard the latest update but I do know that containment is near.The fire has burned about 2,600 acres over the course of the last 13 days. This is devastating.

Table Rock is located off of  FR-210. To get there you take Hwy 181 to Gingercake Road (about 4 miles south of the parkway/Hwy 181 intersection). Follow the road to the left through Gingercake Acres. You will drive several miles and follow signs to Table Rock Picnic Area to access the Summit Trail. Many of the trails between Sitting Bear, Hawksbill and Spence Ridge will also connect to Table Rock. Naturally now is not the best time to go as these trails have been closed due to fire. Once re-opened proceed with caution and be on the look out for falling limbs, trees and unstable ground.

The cause is of the fire is listed on InciWeb as Human.

This weighs heavily on my heart. I can’t help but wonder, was this accident or was this intentional? I cannot imagine the guilt and shame one must feel to know a preventable mistake resulted in such tragedy and I cannot begin to understand what might have compelled someone to be so horrible to have set this fire with a malicious purpose. Either way it is heartbreaking.

There is a person officials would like to speak with related to this fire. Please read this article and notify officials if you know this person or have any information.

Regrettably there is not much else we can do. We watch and listen as the fire spreads and the firefighters work to contain the fire and mitigate the damage. What we can do is remember the very simple message I am sure we all learned in school or scouts which is that “Only you can prevent forest fires!”

When camping our fire is necessary to keep us warm and help us prepare our meals, it also generally does a good job of keeping critters at bay.  Our camp fire is beautiful and one of the best parts about camping but we must acknowledge and accept that a camp fire is a huge responsibility! It is our job to keep a watchful eye on our fire and to properly extinguish it when we no longer have the need. The best method for putting out your fire is to follow these steps:

1. Allow the fire to burn all logs completely to ash.

2. Stir ashes and scrape any remaining embers off sticks. (Do not bury the fire, the fire can smolder and re-surface after you have left the site.) 

3. Pour water over all embers and ash, when the fire is out you should not hear any hissing or cracking.

4. As a general rule you should be able to touch the remains of the fire and feel no heat. If water is limited you can use soil to help extinguish but remember not to bury the fire. Stir in the water and/or soil until the remains and ground are cool to the touch and preferably wet.

The number one cause of forest fire is human accident or carelessness. Please, please, please put out your fire completely every time!

Throughout all the news feeds about this fire we have been so sad and sorry for all the animals who have lost their natural habitats. I have wondered about the animals and how they survive such a horrible event like this. I have learned that very few animals are actually killed in forest fires, thank God; most animals will recognize the danger and vacate the area. Generally they will begin moving back in to the area even before the smoke clears. The biggest threat to wildlife however is the loss of food and shelter. One careless act has resulted in all this. This breaks my heart.

I have also wondered how long it would take for this area to recover. I have read that the forest may take 20 years or more to begin the recovery process if the area is properly weeded and replanted. If not properly tended it could take as many as 100 years. Soil quality diminishes after a high-intensity fire for up to five years and erosion becomes a significant threat not allowing or supporting new growth and many of the scorched trees (particularly those with badly scorched crowns) will die within a few years. Luckily the Linville River is nearby; land near water will generally recover faster than other areas.

We have not yet traveled back to the Table Rock area to see what remains, I am not sure I want to. We want to remember it like this:

Majestic, magnificent and beautiful.

It is hard to find inspiration in the midst of tragedy but in this tragedy you can be inspired to learn more about forest fire prevention and consider making a donation to your local not for profit wilderness association, fire department or conservation society. They are much needed in times like these!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Toms Creek Falls

The weather is turning chilly which means our outdoor adventures will go into hibernation for a little while pretty soon. We are trying to squeeze in all the day hikes we can until then. We also are getting ready to begin house renovations which are projected to tie up our weekends this winter.... We decided to wait to do our remodeling until the winter since we wouldn't be on the go quite as much and we figured it would be best to stay busy during the colder months so we don't go stir crazy or get cabin fever!

We went this past weekend to Toms Creek Falls. I am not sure I'd even call this a hike, it was a short .8 mile easy walk through the woods. It was a beautiful fall day!

The trail is easy to see and is fairly flat, following the stream along the way. In the sunlight the trail glistens with mica that was mined from these mountains.

Once at the end there is this beautiful 60 foot waterfall to behold! 

You can easily get to the base of the waterfall and in the warmer months even enjoy the pools beneath it.

Cross the creek at the bottom of the water fall and round the corner and you will find an old Mica Mine. This, to me, was the best part of the trip! Simply fascinating!

The mine is now filled with water so you will want to be careful not to slip in. Also beware of falling rock.

You will see quite a bit of mica on this trail both on the rocks and on the ground.

There is also and old watermill foundation that remains. This watermill was likely used to provide power for the miners as they worked in this cave. There are even a few scattered primitive camp sites along the route.

We are so happy we found Toms Creek Falls nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains! If you haven't been you should plan a trip!

Toms Creek Falls is located 7 miles north of Marion, North Carolina, just off of US 221. From the intersection of US 70 and US 221 North in Marion, NC, drive about 5 1/2 miles North on US 221. Turn left on Huskins Branch Road, just before the old Woodlawn Motel. Go approximately 1.5 miles and you will see a small gravel parking area on the right just before a small bridge. The trail begins to the right of this parking area. When the trail forks, follow the left fork along creek.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Oh what a night!

Early on I mentioned that as a general rule James and I tend to learn through our mishaps... (Yes, I mean mistakes but mishaps sound so much better doesn't it?)

Last night a friend and I opted for an evening run. We planned to meet right after work at 5:30 pm and we were planning to run five miles. Just before meeting we questioned the sunset time (5:21 pm eek!!) but felt we'd be able to knock out this run before it was too dark. Running through town is no problem when it's dark because there are ample street lights. This route, however, ended with a stretch on an unlit, paved trail nestled in the woods.

We shortened our route to 3.5 miles but by the time we hit the trail the sun was no where is sight and darkness had fallen... Hard!! We couldn't stop or turn around as we had left a car at the end of the trial where we'd finish. We were totally unprepared for the conditions we faced. We are extremely thankful for the flashlight app on the iPhone but it was less than ideal! The path was uneven from the tree roots growing and expanding underneath the pavement and I kept thinking I was sure to fall flat on my face! 

We finished in one piece (we ran a 9:15 minute mile pace) and felt pretty hard core afterwards, ha ha, but it got me thinking about what I need in case I find myself running in the dark again.The pepper spray and reflective arm bands from my stocking stuffers list would be great and most definitely reflective clothing is a must but a head lamp would be essential! This Petzl Tikka 2 comes highly recommended. It is super light weight and compact! There are several others out there marketed for running but they are much heavier (and much more expensive). I think I may give this one a try and see what I think! 

Any other recommendations??

Monday, November 11, 2013

This Weekend's VIP ~ US Veterans, thank you for your service and your sacrifice!

Today we pay homage to the United States Military Veterans. Those who have served our country and those who are currently serving our country. I have a very dear friend who is currently deployed and I am so, so honored to be her friend. She has so selflessly offered her self to the service of our great nation and she has made great sacrifices to do so. Her teenage daughter and son anxiously await her return. While I think about her sacrifice and the sacrifice of all those who serve I also am so thankful to the families who give up their loved ones to the service for our nation.  

Take some time today to thank a service man or woman for the great they have done for our country and take time to thank a military family as well!

To all of the military men and women that serve and protect our nation and to all the families that have sacrificed as well, thank you!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Stocking stuffers for the runner in your world

It’s been a pretty quiet week… Not a lot going on… I am thinking this is the calm before the storm. Halloween has past and now all is quiet for a few weeks then the Holiday’s arrive! Then the hustle and bustle begins!! Have you started working on your Christmas wish list? I have been thinking of all the running things I want to add to mine and thought I would share. 

Here is my list of stocking stuffer ideas for the runner in your world:

Every runner could use a new pair of earbuds! Check out these yurbuds

Sport Beans would be a great substitute to the candy that might find it's way into the stockings... 

Another option is GU! Salted Caramel... Peppermint Stick... Yes please!

A runner can't have too many pairs of great running socks! Swift Wick are awesome! The Pursuit Zero are made from Merino Wool!

For the early morning runner (like me) or even a late afternoon/evening runner reflective armbands like these from Road Runner, LED wristband like SlapLit or flashing armbands like this LightGUIDE LED Armband would make a great stocking stuffer.

Pepper Spray... You never know when you might need it!

Zensah compression sleeves! Beware though that when you order one of these the quantity really is one... So... If you want one for both legs buy two :) 

Running gloves that are touch screen compatible  like these from Lululemon!

Actually anything from Lululemon ;) 

KT Tape for any aches and pains that might slow you down!

The Grid Foam Roller, yes it is a little big for a stocking but you could place it beside the stocking...

The Grid 2.0 Foam Roller is much too big for the stocking, but maybe you could hang the stocking from it... Just a suggestion ;)

iTunes gift cards are always good! New songs are much needed to keep from getting bored by the same ole' songs

Sunscreen is a must!! Neutrogena Baby comes highly recommended by a dermatologic cosmetic surgeon I know who is also a fellow runner.

Brooks Seamless Arm Warmers are great if you are running when it's not quite cold enough for long sleeves but the chilly start warrants some extra coverage. These can come off and into a pocket quick mid stride!  

Road ID, I hope I would never need this but I imagine it is invaluable in some situations.

If good ole' St. Nick is feeling splurgy here are a couple BIG ideas:

Spa or Massage Gift Card

Ok Ok the Garmin Forerunner 110 would suffice ;)

Actually the great thing about running is that it really is an inexpensive sport, the items above are just nice to have but totally optional! Really all you need is a pair of running shoes and the great outdoors :) All you need is Run!

Friday, November 1, 2013

High Five for Friday

High Five for Friday!! TGIF!

1. I joined the race for the cure on Saturday!! It was great to do what I enjoy and raise money and awareness for the fight against breast cancer!! The Susan G. Komen Foundation ROCKS!!

2. We love camping and had a wonderful time at Warrior Creek last weekend!

3. I ran the farthest I have ever this week!! My time was not bad either for a longer run! I am excited to know I can do it and anxious to see how far I can go in the future! 

4. Halloween!! We love Halloween! So much fun! The girls carved the cutest pumpkins!

5. One of my favorite things about carving pumpkins is roasting the seeds!! Yummmmmmmyyyyyy!! A little S&P and Cayenne!! Makes for a great snack!

Visit Lauren Elizabeth for more High Five for Friday!


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