Leaves Encore
Laurel Valley
34-Mile Trail Run
Rocky Bottom, SC to Whitewater Falls, NC
November 25, 2002
Alex Morton
Exactly 30 days later, Robert Crosby and I were back on the Foothills Trail for another Laurel Valley Run. Amazingly, the whole
panorama had changed again. Without the leaves on the trees, we saw everything differently and still at times wondered if we
were “going the right way?”  There are so many different views; it is extremely difficult to remember all the points on the trail.
The last 6-8 miles seems to be the hardest for me to remember, as I keep thinking I am going to come out to an area I will
recognize, (but never do). Thankfully, the white blazes that mark the trail are so obvious there is usually not a problem (if we paid
attention).
We started a little earlier this time, going out at 6:00 AM. We had a mostly full moon to help light the way, although flashlights
were still necessary to help pick the best place to step. The leaves were everywhere, but mostly on the trail, having accumulated
as deep, as 4 to 5 inches, the perfect depth to hide roots and rock. The leaves did provide a little more cushioning and made a
wonderful sound all day long. Once again, these conditions keep us from starting out too fast or going too fast once we could
see where we were going!
The idea of doing a solo run is still intriguing to me, although I would like to have a little more day light in case I didnÂ’t pace
myself correctly or hit a “bump” and have to slow down since… “Once you start, you have to finish.”
Our time was a little slower than last month, as we clocked 10 hours 54 minutes and 15 seconds. We were both pleased with
this time, given the excessive leaves…plus… Robert had just completed the “famed” Qu’est-ce que c’est 50 K a week
before and he was getting ready for a 100 miler (so he had reason to go a little slower) whereas, I just like to “goof–off”
whenever I get a chance. The weather was just right for running, about 36 degrees at first, warming to the 50Â’s and then slowly
dropping back towards the 40Â’s. There was blue sky all day long, which made for a perfect Monday run! We both agreed we
would not want to do this run with the combination of lots of leaves and rain. While we arenÂ’t planning another run until spring,
if the right conditions become available, we may be doing a winter run.
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