If you haven't ever taken the time to take a step back and look at the mountains in the winter, I recommend you do so. After the leaves have fallen and nothing remains but the bare bones of a mountain you are able to see the mountain for what it really is. Steep, rocky, odd shaped, rugged.... the list goes on as each mountain is different. Well, today the mountain was Graybeard. From the distance Graybeard seemed to display all the rugged characteristics of a well defined mountain quietly holding an amazing view waiting to be seen from the top. The great thing about a good mountain is you are forced to work in order to reach the top yet you are handsomly rewarded with a majestic view. Today, Graybeard did just that. With a couple miles of rugged trail to begin the route soon turned to a gradual grade and smooth switchbacks offering the ability to really push yourself as you ascend the mountain and withdraw further and further from civilization below. The last stretch had a few fallen trees and rocks along with a nice climb but finished on a small rock bluff giving you just enough of a boost to provide a complete 360 view of the world around.
It is amazing how you can fall, get scratched and bruised as you climb a mountain yet the moment you reach the top any and every thought of discomfort and pain seems to escape as your thoughts are filled with a euphoric pleasure of having accomplished yet another mountain run.
In the shadow of Adam Hill we then started the decent. Although the route to the top was a great run we felt the punishment was not enough. We decided to take the West Ridge Trail back to the start. The decent was rather something of a 'love-hate' relationship, being torn between slowing your pace for comfort, well not comfort, but safety and actually running but risking many falls accompanied by scraps and bruises. Though some may disagree we did all eventually make it down safely and were rewarded with another section of great trail as we ascending back of the hillside on Big Piney Trail to capture one last view of Montreat and all else below before the run finally came to an end.
I learned a few things this weekend. We are truly blessed with a number of really great friends and genuinely good people and when you mix that with a good quality mountain you are bound to have an amazing time. I also learned something else. Though I have known it now for a while it is seeming to grow more and more prevalent that without a doubt......I LOVE MOUNTAIN RUNNING!!