Sometimes I just get in a car with someone. And go wherever they take me. And do whatever they tell me to do.
I’m very compliant.
Yesterday, that involved getting in Beautiful Beastie’s car. And going to a place she called Cove Mountain. And running a bunch of miles.
Which, normally, is challenge enough.
But yesterday. We did this at 11am.
It was at least 95 degrees yesterday.
And somewhere around 1,000% humidity.
I was told we’d be doing 13. Ish. Miles.
I planned for 20.
We found Tiny Brazilian somewhere out on some road off of the Parkway.
That apparently isn’t far from Apple Orchard Falls.
Or Peaks of Otter.
Or even Bobblett’s Gap? Way over back by Day Creek?
None of that connects in my brain.
They are each their own little sovereign states up there. In my brain. And they definitely don’t border one another. There are at least two to three other sovereign states in between each of them.
Someday BB is gonna make me go run all of it just to show me.
It won’t matter.
My brain won’t ever allow those places to touch.
So, here’s how yesterday’s little adventure went.
We jumped on some trail.
And started climbing.
For two miles.
And it was hot.
Like, hell hot.
That trail is what hell feels like.
So, by the time we hit the top. I was already out of dry spots on my shirt to wipe the snot that was steadily streaming out of my nose.
(It’s not COVIDS)
Because apparently not only has someone opened the gates of hell upon the earth. They’ve also unleashed five billion tons of pollen in the process.
At the top. BB and TB explain that we’re gonna go down a 4.6 mile trail. That they had climbed up. In full sun. In their previous trip here.
I appreciated their decision to let me roll down. In full sun. Instead of making me climb up.
That felt like the right decision.
Eventually. Close to the bottom of the trail. There is a very runnable and actually quite pleasant stretch of trail.
I think I even stopped melting during that unreasonably short stretch.
That trail dumps you out onto a road. Some road. I’m not sure which road. I feel like words like wallow and gap and Jennings and Creek were thrown at me.
I just know they let me stop and put my feet in the water. For a second.
And my feet were happy.
And left foot. We call her Linda now. Linda wasn’t even really complaining at all. Yet.
It was at that point that I realized I hadn’t eaten. At all. That day.
So I pulled my Kind bar out of my pack.
And since I’d been existing in an oven for the last hour and 45 minutes.
And because I will only purchase the dark chocolate and cranberry Kind bars. Because dark chocolate is the only way I can force my body to accept them.
I made the solid adult choice not to open the packaging. And spend the rest of the run with chocolate smeared all over my body.
I don’t know which wild animals might be drawn to dark chocolate.
And I also don’t ever want to know.
And as I was digging around my pack for my Skratch gummies.
I saw this sign.
So, what this sign is telling you. Is that if you call that number. They’ll come pick you up. And take you to bacon cheeseburgers. And ice beerdrink.
And I don’t know what beerdrink is. But it had the word “ice” in front of it.
And I have since learned that the food there is, and I quote, “🤤🤤🤤.”
And there is a swimming pool.
All of the things my body needed in that moment.
“You’re not calling that number, Sunshine.”
But…cheeseburger and ice beerdrink…
“Put your phone away. Let’s go.”
So they walked me down the road a bit.
Over to this little foot bridge.
Where there was a sign that said we were 2.8 miles from somewhere. Maybe the AT? I think maybe we started out on the AT?
And BB was a little disappointed. Because she was doing math. And figured out that we weren’t gonna get in a full 13.
Which I was absolutely fine with.
Because all of the ice in my hydration pack had melted. And I was surviving off of Skratch gummies.
So, before we went. I’d spent a few minutes googling Cove Mountain.
Mostly just so I could get a sense of how badly this was going to hurt.
And I read about Cove Mountain Trail.
And there were directions.
So, when we got to the first fork. And there were no signs to direct us. I may have said we should go to the right.
But it looked exactly like this picture.
Except without the dog.
And this picture definitely has an arrow pointing to the right.
So, we went right.
And I was probably dying at that point.
And BB and TB were maybe continuously looking back at me. With concern. And patient pity.
And assuring me that the climb didn’t go on forever.
And it didn’t.
We finally got to the top. Where there was something akin to an old road. But, like, an apocalyptic old road.
And here is where they explained to me the shit they’d crawled down their previous trip here. When they’d gotten off course.
Explained it being worse than Christmas Mountain.
So, obviously I was desperate to ensure that didn’t happen while I was with them.
Because I’m basically a pansy these days.
But there were no fucking signs.
There were also no fucking blazes.
So we had no fucking idea which way to go.
We tried taking a right.
Which led us deeper into the apocalypse.
So, BB went ahead and turned her brain map on.
And made us turn around and go the other direction.
And we were nine miles in at that point.
And seemingly nowhere near the AT.
And this road went on forever.
And I kept looking at Strava.
And for a bit, she’d be telling me we were running parallel to the trail we’d taken down. And probably on track to eventually hit the AT.
And I felt good.
But then we hit a gate.
And TB exclaimed, “I know where we are!”
And BB said, “No you don’t.”
Because apparently there are multiple gates. On multiple apocalyptic old roads. On this mountain.
And her brain maps somehow remember them from childhood.
My brain maps don’t even remember where my bedroom was from childhood.
But we took a right on this new apocalyptic old road.
Which is when Strava started telling me we were now heading back the way we came. Like back towards the footbridge. Like, back the opposite direction from our cars.
And I may have pointed that out. In possibly a little bit of a panicked tone.
Which may have led BB to question her brain maps.
So she made me access the compass app on my phone. Since I was the one who had service.
Except I’d deleted that shit off my phone a long time ago.
I’d done this less for space. And more because information like that. In my hands. Is dangerous.
I shouldn’t have access to tools that might allow me to try to make my own way in the world.
So, I reinstalled the compass.
And handed the it to BB.
And she seemed satisfied that we were headed the right way.
That I’d just taken us up the wrong trail. Giving us extra mileage.
And then we finally hit another gate.
And BB exclaimed, “I know where we are!”
And this time she did.
And then there was the trail. A trail. Some trail.
That would probably take us back up to the AT. Which would take us back down to our cars.
But holy hell.
This was the point at which I questioned every life choice I’d ever made.
I was drinking the bottom dregs of warm pack water.
Shoving Skratch gummies into my mouth.
Smearing snot around my face with my sweat-soaked shirt.
And constantly checking Strava to see how close we were to the AT. To the down.
But this trail doesn’t take a direct path back to the AT.
So I couldn’t actually tell.
And that crushed my soul.
And every so often, TB would yell back to me. From miles ahead. To see if maybe I had just given up on life.
And I’d call back weakly. That I was really excellent. Really just doing great.
And my body was calling bullshit on that.
And my legs and my lungs were arguing over which of them was more miserable.
And my brain was trying to tell them that trail running is a mental game. So their complaints were irrelevant. And that we could do this.
And my legs and lungs then started plotting on how to terminate my brain.
And just about the time they were trying to get my hands to google “how to kill a brain,” there were my people. Standing on the AT. Waiting for me.
Sweet mother of mountains. We did it. Just two more miles.
Just two more miles. Of mostly downhill. To the car.
And so I managed, through sheer force of cold water fantasies, to force my legs to run.
Linda was just bitching non-stop at that point.
Shut the fuck up, Linda. We’re hot. And we’re tired. And we’re almost out of warm pack water.
We’re going to this damn car as fast as we’re capable.
And there was thunder. And the promise of rain. But that never came.
Until we were finally back to the cars.
Those beautiful cars.
Where I poured an endless stream of cold water into my mouth.
And I was happy.
We ended up with 15 miles and nearly 3,000 feet of climbing.
I swear it felt like 4,000.
And based on my new method of calculating mileage, we did upwards of 20 miles yesterday.
And seriously. Who the hell listens to me out on trail anyway?