Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Lost Blog Entry: McAfee Knob

This past weekend was the FINAL EVENT OF THE CYSTIC FIBROSIS FOUNDATION’S XTREME HIKE, a 28(ish) mile hike in Dolly Sods, West Virginia.  The night before the big hike, I pulled up to the hotel and my fan club was waiting in the lobby.  There was an angry mob (of extremely nice people) who wanted to know where my McAfee Knob Hike blog entry was. With my rigorous work and workout schedule, I totally forgot to hit PUBLISH on the entry I wrote a few weeks ago.  This may be a little dated, but here’s the raw unedited post I forgot to publish…

Two years ago, the McAfee Knob hike was our final practice hike before the final 31-mile hike at Massanutten.  At the time, I wrote a blog post that described the beauty and wonders of this trail, and believe it or not, the trail looked exactly the same—except, this time we bypassed the Bizarro AT.
Part 1 of 3: 31miles.blogspot.com/2013/09/final-practice-hike-mcafee-knob-part-1.html

Just another sunrise at McAfee Knob

Proof that I witnessed that sunrise
Taking a break atop Tinker Cliffs

The weather was a perfect 10 on this hike.  I’m not very superstitious, but I really think the streak of beautiful hiking weather we’ve had is a precursor to an amazing weekend in Dolly Sods.  Even though McAfee’s views are some of the most spectacular in Virginia, I’ve been promised the views from Dolly Sods are amongst the most beautiful on the East Coast.  I can’t wait to experience the panoramic 360-degree views from the Dolly Sods plateau.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…I still had to complete the 20(ish) mile hike from McAfee Knob to Hay Rock.

When I signed up for this Xtreme Hike, I had TWO goals:
  1. Raise over $2,500 in donations.  (I’m close and my prediction is that I’ll raise $2,750)
  2. Finish the final hike without fighting Corey to stay on the trail.  For two years, I’ve thought about the final 10 miles at Massanutten, when I hiked into a smoke-filled Aid Station and Corey considered pulling me from the course because of my slow pace.  I finished the 31 miles, but I wasn’t going to put myself through that situation again.  I spent all summer working on my pace, pushing myself to new limits—and training myself to believe in my abilities.

The final practice hike was a chance to gauge where I was mentally and physically—and in short, I KICKED SOME SERIOUS ASS.  I wasn’t just walking fast, I was freakin’ RUNNING the trails with Amy M, Martina, and Jerrod—and it felt amazing.  Trail running always looked like an accident waiting to happen, but somehow I managed not to roll an ankle.

We left behind scorched earth

I texted Di a few times to brag about my pace, and periodically received responses asking where I was on the trail.  The last time Di and I hiked this trail, we finished around 3:30—and I was on pace for finishing TWO HOURS earlier.  I couldn’t wait to cross the finish at 1:30 and tell her where I was on the trail.

As I emerged from the woods, I pulled out my phone to text her, and a little arms grabbed onto my leg like something from the Walking Dead.  I tried shaking it off, but it attached itself tighter.  I looked down and wondered, “Where did this zombie come from?!”  It didn’t occur to me that it was MY child, until I saw Di behind the bushes.  I had NO idea they were going to surprise me at the finish, and I felt bad that I didn’t greet my own daughter with more enthusiasm.  My brain just wasn’t working. 
My little Zombie

I don’t want to give the impression that I was some sort of Hiking God out there that weekend…EVERYONE KICKED ASS and finished faster than 2 years ago.

Amy M ran the damn trail and finished 8(ish) hours before us- - and I think she actually hiked 38 Amy Miles.

Jared and I had finished near the back of the pack at Three Ridges, and I found him running past me with Amy.  Once he gets on that plateau at Dolly Sods, I bet he’s going to break into a sprint.

Martina was another runner who destroyed this trail.  I bet she would’ve been even faster with Roxy pacing her.

Edwige and Fred came bouncing from the trail like it was no big deal. Unfortunately, Tracey was still suffering from the effects of a nasty fall at Three Ridges and had to cut her hike short—but I guarantee she’ll be ready to kick ass at Dolly Sods.

Edwige and Fred laughing about how awesome they are

Amy B, Bob, Gene, and Sharon all finished the trail a few moments later—and I’m thinking they’re going to have an awesome day on the trail in a few weeks. 

And of course there’s Rob—who I thought was a guide the whole day.  I didn't see much of him, because I thought he was too busy doing crap for Corey.

Who's ready for some skiing?

Oh Dana Marie, what are we going to do with you??!  A couple of wrong turns, and all of sudden she’s hiking an additional 5 miles.  Also, she’s really not afraid to bring a giant 200-lb pack onto the trail for a day-long hike.  She’ll tell you that she has food, survival supplies, and tape (flashback to year 1: Dana Marie taped up everyone’s feet during this hike AND the final hike in the middle of the pitch black night-- and saved us all from blisters).  Personally, I think she's a badass for being able to hike 20-miles with that pack strapped to her. I’m going to make two bold predictions about the final hike: Dana Marie isn’t going to get lost (or lead us off a cliff in the dark) AND she’s going to bring a smaller pack. We’ll see.

And speaking of badasses, let’s talk about Josh.  One of the big reasons I’m hiking is because of Josh and others who have cystic fibrosis.   Want to know what's humbling? Try watching a guy with cystic fibrosis CRUSH a 20(ish) mile trail AND do it quicker than a (somewhat) healthy adult did it two years ago.  It was AWESOME to watch Josh, Jamie, and her sister (the Substitute) come out from the woods.  Jamie’s sister is the ‘Substitute’ in case Josh doesn’t think he can finish the final hike—newsflash: Josh is going to FINISH THE FINAL HIKE (unless something stupid happens—like the hike is canceled).

World Class Badass

Also, I want to give a special shot out to Bez and her daughter Michelle.  They were at the finish line with beer and enough pizzas to feed a football team.  We couldn’t hike without the support of volunteers like Bez—she’s done so much for us.  I know she’s planning to volunteer at the aid station on the final hike, and I’ll be sure to smile, thank her for her help, and be nice to her when I pass by!! 

In closing, Positive Scott was back on the trail. I didn’t crush that trail because of my physical fitness—it was my mental fitness. I KNEW a different attitude would make all the difference, and it did. 

This group of hikers aren’t world-class athletes, but they’ve been battle-tested mentally—and they’re TOUGH AS NAILS. Get ready for a ton of badasses, Dolly Sods.

Ready to take on the World

I’m ready for the FINAL HIKE.  My body is in great condition (especially my feet and ankles)  and my mind is in a great place. Nothing is getting in my way now. NOTHING.

In fact, I called Di on my way home and said: I’m going to be the first person to finish the final hike. I’m going to do it. I’m going from worst to first.”   I know it’s not a race, but in my mind I could picture victory.  I imagined Amy M hanging out with Laura chatting about god knows what, instead of running—and I visualized Liam (the Disney Prince) and his wife Tyler going a  little slower to take in REAL views. 

Va Beach folks are used to the views from Mt Trashmore
I KNOW I CAN DO IT.  Nothing can stop me now—unless there's some sort of freak weather event, an injury from a freak mishap, or a bunch of West Virginia hillbillies that chase us away from their hidden mountain meth labs.

Only two more weeks until the Final Hike-- please help support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation by making a donation here: fightcf.cff.org/goto/seaborn