Saturday, February 21, 2015

Trailblaze Challenge & Crowder's Mountain Hike

A few weeks ago, I ran across a Make-A-Wish Trailblaze Challenge information session listed on the REI website and signed up to see what it was about. Last year I saw a billboard with their website on one of the main highways in Charlotte, but by the time I saw it, the challenge had already passed and honestly, I kind of forgot about it until I saw it again on the REI website. So, I signed up for the information session and learned that challengers would be taking on a one-day, 28.3 mile hike on the Appalachian Foothills Trail in May. Once I got the confirmation that I didn't need surgery on my knee, I signed up! 

We got a training plan to help us ramp up our mileage and it's very similar to a running plan - we're expected to do 3-4 days of short mileage walks and on the weekend we'll do a longer group hike. Our longest training hike will be 22 miles three weeks before our event and we'll be exploring a lot of different trails within a few hours of Charlotte. We've had two training hikes so far and last weekend we did 4.5 miles at Crowder's Mountain, about 40 minutes west of Charlotte. It got up into the 40's and was sunny so it ended up being a great day for a hike. Starting from the Linwood Road Access, we started on the Backside Trail, then went to Crowders Trail and finished on the Rocktop Trail (or we were supposed to). We started in a large group and quickly separated based on pace as we started out going straight uphill. For awhile I ended up walking by myself and then I would randomly catch up to some folks and after we got past the scenic outlook (below) we had to do some scrambling over some rocks and 3 of us ended up together. We came to a fork in the trail and while there was a sign that gave us directions, there weren't any blazes, so we headed in the direction of the parking lot. After about a mile, we caught back up to our pace leaders and realizes that we must have taken a wrong turn. After looking at the map again, we probably ended up walking farther than the rest of the group, but we also probably cut out some of the elevation - we ended up following the Tower Trail instead of staying on the Rocktop Trail. I guess this just means I'll have to go back again to check out the overlook at the towers!

If you squint really hard, you can see the Charlotte skyline

As part of of the Trailblaze Challenge, I'm raising money for the Make-A-Wish foundation to help grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. I'd love to have your support in my efforts and any amount you can give is greatly appreciated! 

I'll be creating a special training shirt for this challenge and anyone who donates $25 or more by March 1 can have their name or a short tribute message included on this shirt. Making a donation is easy and secure through my personal page. You can also join me in raising funds and spreading the word by simply forwarding this link along to your contacts - you never know who might be able to help and any gift is another step toward granting vital wishes.

Thank you in advance for supporting me in my Trailblaze Challenge. With your help, I can hike 28.3 miles and give children the gift of hope, strength and joy!

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