The DeFo Special

“Should we be worried about the wind?”

There are probably a lot of things we should be worried about, BB.

We do enough dumb shit. That running through the outer remnants of a hurricane seems like child’s play.

Except also this route is definitely not child’s play.

Basically, how this works, is Beautiful Beastie gets an idea for a new route in her head.

And she or someone else starts estimating mileage. And these are very rough estimates. These are the kind of estimates you’d get if you asked me to, say, measure the size of a room for flooring. I’ll give you some numbers. To pacify you. But there’s no way you’re gonna have enough flooring to do the whole room.

So the estimate was 22 miles.

And I knew that we were starting at Jennings Creek and incorporating Cove Mountain and Apple Orchard Falls into the route.

And so my brain did what it does. When it’s trying to prepare itself for a new BB route.

It tried to imagine the route. And plan for when and where the pain would be. And how long it would last. And how much food it would need to keep itself distracted.

It never gets it right.

But it tries.

So my brain decided that we were gonna run up one side of Cove Mountain. Cross the Wallow Spot road. Run down into AOF. Back up the other side of AOF. And then back down the other side of Cove Mountain.

And there would be Creek beer at the end.

It was still dark when we got there. A little before 6am.

And neither of us had headlamps.

BB had a little camping lantern. That isn’t made for running. But that was also better than the total darkness we were consumed by.

But this is why. As we were making the first climb. That I still thought I was right. About our route.

I didn’t see where we hopped onto the AT at.

And honestly. It wouldn’t have mattered if I had.

We always start at the top of the mountain. So my brain absolutely cannot process how starting at the bottom would work.

Anyway. The sun came up. Kind of. And we were probably about two or three miles in. And we passed a tree that was down over the trail. And I said, that’s new.

Because my brain was still saying that we were on Cove Mountain.

No idea which side of Cove Mountain it thought we were on.

But then BB said something about Bropunzel estimating a four mile climb at the start.

And my brain went through this whole process…

Ok. So we’re on the front side of Cove Mountain. That’s the side with the longer gradual climb. Which was a good decision. Thank fuck she didn’t make me climb the two mile side first. Because that’s the side that steals my soul. Except it’s 4 1/2 miles on the front side. And she knows this already. Why would she need Bropunzel to estimate that for her…

And that’s when my brain realized. That we were on the AOF side.

Oh. Ok. Ok, cool. Let’s do some different math.

So, I know the Cove Mountain Loop is around 12 miles. Except we probably won’t do that two mile down to the road and two miles back up part. Because that would be ridiculous. And we don’t do ridiculous. So that loop will only be around 8 miles.

22-8= 14?

Yes. 14.

So this AOF side will be 14. And it’s an out and back. I think. So this trail should be 7 miles.

Apparently with a 4 mile climb to start.

Except we were three miles in and had definitely only climbed one of those miles.

And the rain was settling in quite nicely. And the winds were kicking up. Which was more welcome than unnerving.

And this is where the climb started.

And it was absolutely four fucking miles. Of relentless up. Some of it really aggressively up.

And another mile of up thrown in.

And we were really going at those climbs.

So that when we got to the intersection. That would take us on a 6ish mile loop around AOF. My brain started short circuiting.

Wait. So, this route should be 14 miles. And we haven’t even done 6 of those yet. So that means that what we just did was only 4 miles. But it took us like 3 1/2 hours to do that. How in fuck were we that slow????

And then BB pointed to the sign. That said it was 10.2 miles. Back to Jennings Creek. Where we started.

And my brain suddenly understood what was happening.

We’d just done 10 1/2 miles.

Someone had just picked the number 22 to shove at me. So I could pretend to know what I was getting into.

And I know my face looked panicky. As I tried to math.

So BB gave me options.

“We can do this 6 mile loop and skip the Cove Mountain side. Or we can skip this loop and take a break at the cars before we go do Cove Mountain.”

And my brain couldn’t process.

So I just stared.

“How much food do you have left?”

I’ve got one applesauce…

And I know my legs would have preferred 6 additional miles over 8 additional miles. But I was in full on immediate gratification mode. And she damn sure wasn’t gonna get stuck out there for an extra 6 miles with my food-lacking whiny ass. So we turned around.

Now. Since we were headed back down the mountain. I could kind of appreciate the absolute fucking beauty of that trail. Because it is gorgeous.

There’s a stretch where you run through the magical little miniature forest tree things? That BB calls rhododendrons? And there’s another stretch just filled with these flowers. That I call yellow daisies.

It’s very fairy tale-esque.

And there was this overlook. That we skipped on the way up. Because these mountains haven’t given us a damn view all summer. And we sure as hell didn’t expect a view during hurricane remnants.

But we said sure. Why not. Let’s check it out.

And damn.

That was worth it.

But. Ok. So climbing up a mountain is hard.

But holy hell. Running back down. On tired legs. Over relentless rocks. Is harder.

And I was starting to realize just how much chafing was happening. All over my body. It was just. Everywhere.

And I kept talking myself into. And back out of. The 8 Cove Mountain miles.

And then I ran out of water.

And the sun came out.

And the humidity returned.

And I remembered that my limits kick in somewhere around mile 18.

So when we got back to our cars. With 20.8 miles on my Strava. And over 5,000 feet of climbing. And BB seemed content.

“Let’s save the full route for another weekend.”

Yes. Yes let’s do that, please.

And she handed me a hazy IPA and a bag of Doritos. And walked me down to the creek. Because she understands that food will fix any damage the mountains may do to our friendship.

And we thought about our girls. Hanging out at the beach this weekend.

And while I’m normally resentful about my people going on an adventure without me. That creek with food and beer and my Beautiful Beastie after 21 just really challenging miles. Was exactly what I needed.

Because when you put yourself through that level of pain and discomfort on the weekends. All of the rest of the shit that 2020 is throwing at you is suddenly far less overwhelming.

And then BB said Skratch told her there was a way to run from our Cove Mountain out to Carvins Cove. A Cove to Cove route.

And I knew that he had discovered that. And I’d specifically asked him not to tell BB. So, of course he did.

So now I’ll be running that 40 miles of bullshit. As soon as she figures out how to get on the AT from Carvins.

Also. For anyone that gets talked into the full DeFo Special route. That BB had originally planned for us to do yesterday. My brain says it will be somewhere around 36 miles and 8,000 feet of climbing.

So, like Promiseland.

Only worse.

We’re gonna need some aid stations for that bullshit.

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