Humidity was clearly a factor in completing this run, but even so, 7 foolz finished in under 10 hours (read: "I made that trail my bitch, yo!").
Charles and I ran the first half in 4 and a half hours before C-Raff succumbed to the humidity (read: "That trail made me her bitch, yo!").
Cast of Characters:
Dan (who the phuck is Harley?) the Man Hartley
Charles (The Rapping Pirate)
Charles and I had the longest distances to travel so, to avoid a 3:00 a.m. wake up call, we both headed down to the Laurel Valley entrance parking lot on Friday night and set up camp. We really had no idea if actual camping is allowed in the area adjacent to the parking lot. But it's not like we're gonna call the BMF Ranger and ask. As we set up the tent, visions of an encounter with the BMF Ranger filled my head.
In one scenario, said BMF Ranger pulls up in his Ranger wagon, set to kick us off the trail, perhaps even fine us. But I head him of by pulling out my BMF wallet and saying, "Hey, Ranger! The National Park Service called. They said you lost your wallet." (Barney Stinson wink, and...) Ranger takes the wallet, the dead Presidents, and everyone is happy.
Fast forward to 7:00 a.m.
The first squeal of tires is heard several minutes before 7:00 as Big Easy's car careens on to Laurel Valley Road on three wheels. Big Easy, Mark Elson, D-Ray (and Nick?) have arrived, and clearly, they are ready to party.
It's always great to be reunited with old friends, and as the case with D-Ray and Nick, meet some new ones. After the initial gratuitous smack talk, everyone was anxious to get on the trail, but Charles and I weren't quite done breaking down camp. We told them to go on ahead as we needed
people to clear the trails of spiders a little more time. So off the spider patrol everyone went, hitting the trail at 7:15. We were able to finish up quickly, and got on the trail at 7:30.
And So It Begins
I've lost count of how many times I've run the Laurel Valley section of the Foothills Trail. But every every time I do, I hate starting out by climbing stairs! They are just awful and the first several miles is full of stairs and climbs. What's strange is that in running the entire Foothills Trail, I never remember this section as being particularly difficult. Oh yeah. That's because you ascend to the highest point in the entire state of South Carolina within 4 miles when you start at Table Rock State Park. By the time you get to Laurel Valley, you're 14 miles in and feeling stoked to have such easy running.
The initial 2-3 miles were slow going indeed, but when the terrain flattened out a bit we started to run at a good pace. We were both feeling good, and I kept thinking that as fast as we were moving, we'd should catch the group, eventually. The trail was just flying by and and it was awesome to be feeling good and running easily- even though I was sweating more than I usually do. I was completely drenched within the first mile. Don't even ask about Charles.
Through this 7-9 mile section, I decided to turn on some tunes, sit back (figuratively speaking, of course) and enjoy the ride.
Several miles later, I was so happy to be having a good run I was practically beside myself. Then, my good-run feeling of giddiness rose to near fever pitch as Cee Lo Green's song, "F**k You!" came on.
Can I just say? I love me some Cee Lo Green.
This man seriously knows that music comes from the heart and soul. He has a fantastic sense of humor and doesn't take himself seriously. I don't care who you are, these are great qualities.
Plus, a big black rapper in a zebra suit is so wrong it's actually right, and for that reason alone he fits right in with this motely crew.
I'm sure he'd be perfectly at home partnering up with the MFRP to write a song about Sam's zebra's (in which they would hopefully answer the eternal question once and for all: why don't humans ride zebras?)
I swear, I was in free association heaven... Before the next mile was run, I had Charles and Cee Lo collaborating on Fitty K's Ultra Rap, featuring....wait...wait for it...
BAM! That just happened.
They can thank me later.
Word up dog, move along the trail
Keep rollin, smokin along
You ain’t about to fail
Gotja gels, hammer style
In a pouch then, I’m not slouchin
You gonna be runnin for ya life then
Not afraid of dyin
Just never stop tryin
It ain’t about the finish, not winnin
Busta rhyme and your head starts spinnin
A trail mile is a whale mile
More and more of them, that’s my style
Knick knack paddy whackin
Staying on the trail, ya’ll
Less you do some bushwhackin
Give it your best shot, give it your all
Livin the ultra life (not beer), word
It ain’t like nuthin you ever heard
We’re all together, disregard the weather
Postman goes in snow and sleet
But that sucka stays on the street
Not us though, we’re on a roll
Living life like we’re outta control
This trail running life is good for the soul
by Charles Raffensperger
Laurel Valley Giveth and She Taketh Away
Today's lesson sponsored by Laurel Valley: All good things must come to end. The humidity was finally having its way with Charles (and not in a good way). The good news is that he may have actually turned the corner in learning the lesson this trail is so desperately trying to teach him: With his sensitivity to heat and humidity, he simply cannot undertake beastly ultra runs unless the weather conditions are right.
As we reached the half way point, C-Raff began to suffer more and more, and I was right there with him. We eventually slowed waaay down and switched gears. The rest of the day would be about enjoying the day and being happy to be out playing in the forest. Together. (Personally, I love how ultra running has the coolest built-in back up plan).
Yep. Still Directionally Challenged
I find it extremely difficult to remember all the points on this trail, no matter how many times I run it. I find I'll remember the section as I'm running it, but there's always a point where I think a certain landmark is coming up, only to discover that I am totally wrong. Saturday, this played out in epic fashion:
Me: "Hey Charles. Right up here the trail is going to make a right turn and there'll be a sign for Bad Creek Parking lot, right?"
Me: "Isn't the little foot bridge that goes along the rock wall that has water running down it coming up?"
The last 6-8 miles always seem to be the hardest for me to
run remember, as I keep thinking the distance is over a hundred (possibly over a thousand) miles and may very well include a circumnavigation of the globe I'm going to come out to an area I will recognize, (but never do).
Eventually, though, I began to get it right. I'd name an upcoming landmark..and it would be correct! Yaaay!
My take away- The more tired I become, the better my sense of direction gets.
The Laurel Valley Payoff of Excellence
Upper Whitewater Falls
After a day of following the white blazes through the thick forest canopy, taking in the incredible sights of the whitewater rivers, waterfalls, dramatic drop offs, swinging bridges, wildlife, and all around incredible scenery, you finally reach the finish.
A ridiculous climb brings you to a cool, big-ass view of Whitewater Falls.