Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Easing into Nature

Some of us thrive on the outdoors. We depend on the life that it breathes into us. Others, run for the nearest building at the very mention of spending time in the "wilderness". So when one of my not so outdoorsy friends asked me to take her on hike I was excited at the chance to show her why hiking in so great. The challenge; not to scare her away. Like me, she's a gym rat and (unlike me) an athletic rugby player so there was doubt that shes tough but experience also tells me that weight lifting and team sports involvement doesn't necessarily equate to being in good trail shape.

 I settled on taking her on a short, three mile hike at Elk Knob State Park, Todd, NC. The park is fairly new and still under development but there is a 1.5 mile trail that leads to the 5, 520 ft. summit of Elk Knob. I've heard about the trail from  friends and its been on my hiking to do list for some time now. The trail is nice, hardened, with a fairly gradual ascent until the last quarter of mile. At this point the trail detours from the planned route which is yet to be completed and follows a steep, old forest road to the summit. It was at this point that my friend loudly expressed how hard it was. I yelled back to her that the last quarter mile is always the hardest, and I'd see her at the top. Then, I turned around a snap a photo of her struggle at which point she promptly waved a very selected finger. I began thinking I may have ruined her.

At the summit we were rewarded with spectacular views of The Peak, Three Top and Bluff Mountains, Mount Jefferson, Grandfather Mountain, Mount Mitchell, Mt Rodgers (Va.), and the Iron Mountains in Virginia and Tennessee. Oh, and we were also greeted with a swarm of noseums which unfortunately shortened our time at the summit.

We enjoyed our decent back to the parking lot. Despite the lactic acid build-up in her quads, I'm pretty sure she had a good time. If my assumption wasn't enough to go on, I got a text message yesterday afternoon telling me she was taking a friend of hers to Elk Knob to hike the Summit Trail. Mission accomplished.

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