The biggest hills I could find

That’s what my training plan said for today: run six miles on the biggest hills you can find. I headed to the Sawnee Mountain Preserve, mostly because Mom has declared it too steep and scary to even consider running. So those must be the biggest hills I can find, right?

A quick note about Sawnee Mountain Preserve: it’s a park with a series of hiking trails that lead, at the top, to the Indian seats, which is a rocky overlook that, on a clear day (the exact opposite of today), offers an unobstructed view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The park is new, but the Indian seats are not. When I was a teenager, this was where the kids would hike (illegally) to do things they weren’t supposed to do. I didn’t get around to many of the things I wasn’t supposed to do until college, so until today, I’ve never been to the Indian seats.

Let me say, one more time, I’m so proud of my town for being smart enough to build all these parks. It was a beautiful, and yes, challenging run. Hard. Painful in parts. But not impossible. And then, of course, I got lost.

Just a tenth of a mile into the trail, you run across this. I have no idea what it is. But it's cool, no?

No, you're not dizzy. After this photo, I realized that my lens was smudged and sweaty.

Most of the hills are like this - kind of steep, but then you get a little break.

And then you get to this stretch, where you think you might asphyxiate. But you probably won't. Hang in there.

This is your reward. In my case, I got this reward TWICE. The whole trail, if you include both of the top trails, is about 3 miles, so I did the loop twice. Because, if nothing else, I am a direction follower.

Does anyone know what this is? I remember stories about caves in this area. I remember because I always imagined Tom Sawyer hiding in them. Which is to say, I've been a nerd my whole life.

Eventually, you get to go down. Or in my case, you go around. I got lost and ended up doing the trail that circles the base of the mountain as well, which was serendipitous because I passed two marvelous elderly men with a walking sticks, and one of them called out, Young lady, that looks fun!


4 thoughts on “The biggest hills I could find

  1. I know what “that” is. It’s a mine shaft. Back when you used to be able to go into it — i.e., when I was a Boy Scout and that wasn’t a park but a feral mountainside — it proved to go in just a few feet and then there was a straight vertical descent into the heart of the mountain.

    That’s why it’s blocked now. Nobody even wants to think about rescuing somebody from the bottom of that thing.

  2. First, I must say I had such a lovely time meeting you for dinner. I have really loved you being back in GA these last few months. And I would totally be your roommate again because then I would get to see you everyday and that would be wonderful.
    So, we need to find you a personal on-body GPS system… or a compass. You are too funny. I can see why kids might go there to do illegal things. It looks like a wonderland for teenagers. I like the blurred pictures. They were a little Blair Witch but I thought they might have been taken while you were running so they were just showing that you were in motion.
    Brad, it is very cool that you know about the cave. I recently saw an episode of Dirty Jobs where they went in and sealed up these dangerous caves. They did something altogether different than jail bars, but still, they seem very dangerous.

  3. It is not the steepness as much as the rockiness and sometimes after a rain slipperiness of the steep mountain that makes me think you could twist an ankle or break a leg running up and down that mountain. But it is a great hike, especially with my ski poles.

  4. Oh, that cave-like structure probably was a mine at one time or Chief Sawnee’s grave, but now they use it to store tools in, I think, when they are clearing the path or cleaning up underbrush. When I walked by it there was a locked gate.

    The legend says the Chief was buried somewhere on that mountain. Buried alive by his braves because when the removal of the Cherokees started he said he was too old to make the trip and he would rather die on his own land so he took his treasures and had his braves close him up inside the cave.

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