- Difficulty: Most Difficult
- Total Length: 16.2 mi.
- Trail Tread Condition: Moderately rough
- Total Elevation Gain: 2500 feet
- Trails/ Roads Used: FR 74, Douglas Falls, Laurel Gap, Bear Pen, Staire Creek.
- Ride Configuration: Figure 8 loop with an out-and-back extension. Travels along gravel road, a grassy roadbed, and a downhill on a steep, technical rocky singletrack.
- Starting Point: Corner Rock picnic area on FR 74 near Barnardsville, NC
Sure enough, I climbed 2500 feet in the first third of the run, was on a grassy roadbed for what seemed an eternity, and the steep, technical downhill was so steep and technical it was the slowest part of the whole run. I was doing good to cover 4 miles an hour on this trail, but it's a must-do as Walker Falls and Douglas Falls are gorgeous and definitely worth seeing.
I set off at about 7:00 a.m., and quickly realized the fire road was going to continue to climb and climb. I settled into a nice rythm of running whenever the road began to flatten a little and walking the true uphill portions. It wasn't long before I began to have a feeling of supreme relaxation. I felt like I was finally able to breathe, while realizing at the same time that I didn't even know I felt like I couldn't breathe in the first place. It wasn't just a physical sensation, although part of it was physical. It was as if my whole being relaxed and matched up with frequency aof my my surroundings. (I never get this sensation on the road- somehow, I'm able to stay completely in my head and stressed during a long run on the road).
Back to Eminem and Lil' Wayne. I had definitely slipped into the zone. I was aware of simply monitoring the effort, almost as if outside myself. I was vaguely aware of my right wrist making a little break with every step, as if to keep the rhythm of my pace. I was listening to Eminem's new song, I'm Not Afraid (over and over). Then listening to Lil' Wayne's, "Drop The World" (also featuring Eminem) over and over. It might seem weird to listen to music on a trail run, but certain music really inspires me, and I felt like I was creating a stronger memory of the run by linking it to music. As often happens while running in this state, my mind wanders and I sometimes get decent insights into things. At least that's what I think at the time. I admit I also sometimes later think that those same insights seem very much like what a really stoned person would write down in the midst of an epiphany, but whatever. Is the experience really any less valid if you look at it differently later?
Today's insight began with thinking about how my husband hates rap music. I think he hates it because it's crude, sounds angry and perhaps lacks the aesthetic of more lyrical music. Valid points. But I like it- and in this moment I was looking at music as simply energy- and rap music is a source of very powerful energy. And enerygy is not good or bad...it's just energy. Which made me think that all that anger and angst in Eminem and Lil' Wyane's music is like very condensed, compacted energy that could be transmuted into a higher frequency. Then, I of course thought that Eminen and Lil' Wayne would totally get that. In fact, they would both totally get the whole trail running experience. Totally. How all things are just energy or spirit, and so is music, and how everything is literally connected to everything else. (This is where my train of thought jumped even further to, "In fact, Jesus transmuted his body into energy, therefore, he's kind of like the ultimate endurance athlete", but I quickly retracted that line of thinking as it's so unoriginal that there are probably bumper stickers available that say that very thing...).
I stayed with the Eminem and Lil' Wayne theme a while longer. By about mile 13 I was so sure they would totally get trail running that I saw myself recruiting them as trail running buddies. It must have seemed pretty real, because I thought I also better befriend the ultimate peace-maker Will.i.am, just in case violence broke out on the trail... Can you imagine the poor dude who shouts some lame insult at one of these guys? Lil' Wayne would start to stab the guy. But then Eminem would call Lil' Wayne a Pussy and shoot the dude right there. Then he'd shoot himself just so he could go to Hell and kill him again. Yeah, it could get out of hand pretty fast.