Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Practice Hike #4: Torry Ridge Rocks!

I’ve been a little behind on my blogging… we went on vacation the morning after our last practice hike, and I’ve spent the last couple of weeks trying to forget 15 miles of Torry Ridge.  

Ever had a bad dream that you're driving in the mountains with someone you love—and you’re trying to get somewhere by a certain time--  but every turn you take is the wrong turn—and your cell phone and GPS don’t receive a signal—and the person you love is yelling at you because you didn’t print off directions before heading to a place without cell service—and you grip the steering wheel tightly, bang your head into it repeatedly, and start to cry—just before you find the place you were looking for-- and you're an hour too late?

That nightmare (minus the crying, of course) was my reality the morning of our fourth practice hike at Torry Ridge.  

For the record: I wouldn’t need to print off directions if Apple could design an app that could take the GPS coordinates of a parking lot on the Blue Ridge Parkway and map a route to that parking lot instead of mapping it to the center of the Blue Ridge Parkway twenty miles from said parking lot. 

Actual location of trailhead
Thanks for routing me to the
middle of the Blue Ridge Pkwy.

Eventually we found the trail head, and instead of giving up and going back home to spend time with our children, we hit the trail thinking we could catch up with the rest of our team.  We were determined—plus, I couldn’t deal with being trapped in my car with an angry wife any longer.  And no, my wife isn’t an angry person… I just make her that way sometimes.

Beautiful view  I enjoyed in silence

Needless to say, Di and I hiked the first three miles in almost total silence.   The silence was broken to share some choice words with me about the piles of bear dung littering the trail.  After the third or fourth pile and no signs of the team, Di made an executive decision to cut our losses and return to the car.  I agreed because I had no freakin' clue where the trail was going. Our trail just seemed to wander off the map along a dotted yellow line...

The yellow dotted trail to nowhere...

I thought we were hiking 'Torry Ridge Trail,' and actually had a map for only 9 miles of our supposed 15-mile hike... I didn't realize we were supposed to be hiking the 'Mills Creek Trail,' that includes a hike along Torry Ridge.  Confused? Yeah, I was too-- so the car sounded like a fantastic option.

Luckily (for someone), we received a text message from Meg... giving us hope we would meet up at some point.

Who wouldn't want to hike with this duo?!

Yo! Come hike with us!

We were only 45 minutes behind everyone else, so we turned around and plotted a course towards our rendezvous point at Mount Torry Furnace. 

Finally, we caught up with Corey who had waited for us at the furnace—and Di started talking again (to Corey, not me).  Some may not know this, but when Corey’s not coaching hikers on the trail, he’s coaching couples through hardships in their marriage.  Without Corey’s wisdom, I’d be looking for a ‘bachelor condo’ big enough to accommodate the kids on the weekend.  

Looking back at my day, I should have followed my good sense (aka: Di) and turned around while we had a chance.  The trail wasn’t as sadistic as Three Ridges, but it was damn near close.

Torry Ridge saves the best for last.  The first twelve miles were a somewhat flat stroll atop Torry Ridge and alongside Mills Creek.  At first the rocky terrain wasn’t a big deal, but a person’s feet can only absorb a limited amount of pounding against rugged granite before there’s consequences… bad bad consequences.

With a few miles separating us from the parking lot, we came to the base of Mount Doom—a one-mile climb with 1,100 feet of elevation gain.  

Climbing Mount Doom
See that tiny spec of color at the top?
That's Di leaving me in her dust

At each of the eight switchbacks, I took a short rest and thought of what I’d rather be doing at that moment (answer: anything else).  After reaching the top, we caught up with the entire group of hikers who had started a full hour before us.  We introduced ourselves to a few new hikers (and an awesome dog), and I took my punishment for being late - a swig of Jack with Corey.    Unlike my hike at Three Ridges,  I took the shot after climbing the big hill, and it felt much better this time.

Some new and familiar faces greeted us at the top

From the top of Mount Doom, we found a few beautiful rocks to traverse.  My shoes didn’t touch dirt for at least a mile.  Whoever thought up this trail had a fantastic sense of humor and hated people.

This is a trail (?)
I hate big rocks
Awesome fun with more big rocks

So what happens when you finish a day of hiking sixteen miles on giant rocks?  You take off your shoes and find lots of quarter-size blisters.  Eight blisters between Di and I.  My foot wasn’t big enough to hold all of my blisters.  Our feet were destroyed.  Apparently, the best way to avoid blisters is to avoid hiking—but since that’s not an option at this late stage, I spent a lot of time researching blisters while on vacation.  To prepare for the next hike, I took Corey’s advice and bought new insoles and wore sock liners (spoiler alert: that didn’t help at all).  I’m a little worried about how my feet will feel after our 20-mile team hike this weekend…

Despite the way my morning started, I'm fortunate to be hiking with Di.  She may be less than enthusiastic about leaving the kids every weekend so we can go get lost in the woods-- BUT once she's on the trail, she's an amazingly supportive teammate who prevents me from drowning in self doubt when the hills get obnoxiously steep.  She won't let me give up-- even when my feet hurt like hell.  She's my rock (a good rock, not a bad rock like the ones pictured above).  Hopefully I just scored some awesome husband points...that I can trade in after our next trail fight.

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1 comment:

  1. I know this seems very random, but I happened to be on Instagram when I saw a pic (hasthag CF).... realized your background was Blue Mountain (we love that place).... and long story short, ended up clicking through to your blog. My fiancee and I could not believe a CF hike was happening so close to us! We would LOVE to partake in this- even if to a small extent... is it ok if I email you to ask more questions? My email is, as well