Please help.

I am training to do a one-day 28.3 mile hike in support of children's cancer research -- and I plan to do the entire hike BAREFOOT! Please SPONSOR ME in the Ultimate Hike and help support this great cause. Thanks!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Elevation Hike: 5 Miles at Occoneechee Mountain

At the overlook with the Eno River behind me
Occoneechee.  It's fun and easy to say: O-ka-nee-chee.  Try it.  Occoneechee, Occoneechee, Occoneechee, Occoneeeeeeecheeeeeee!

But the other half of the name -- Mountain?  We don't have mountains in the piedmont!???

I had never heard of Occoneechee Mountain until it was posted as a hike location for my local meet-up group.  About 50 hikers from the group met at Occoneechee last Sunday to enjoy a wonderful afternoon hiking together in the sunshine.  Occoneechee Mountain is in the Triangle area of NC, just a little more than a half hour from my home.  We have hills around here, but I wasn't aware of any mountains (and you'd think a mountain would be something that you notice).  So I was surprised to discover something near home with "mountain" in it's name.

The group gathering at the trail head ready to hike.
For those of you that live around actual, proper mountains, our little bump reaching an elevation of 867 ft might seem laughable.  But as the highest point in the NC piedmont it offers a real opportunity to do some elevation training close to home in preparation for the Ultimate Hike.  It's not hiking 28 miles in one day that concerns me (though that's still more than twice my longest hike to date so I know I've got a lot of work ahead of me), it's hiking that 28 miles IN THE MOUNTAINS that makes me wonder if I've bitten off more than I can chew.  How can I train for that in the piedmont?

The Answer: Occoneechee Mountain.  The backside of the main trail at Occoneechee includes a climb of over 300 vertical feet in less than a half mile.  Believe me, after several ascents up that incline on this hike, my calf muscles were easily convinced that the word "mountain" belongs in the name.  Occoneeeeecheeeeee!

Looking up at the summit from a short way down at the old rock quarry.
We started with the main 2.2 mile outer loop and then added in a few side trips and inner loop to get in 5 miles of hiking.  It was a great hike with some beautiful views and gorgeous weather.  I made a lot of new friends from the meet-up group.  A few people took interest in my barefoot hiking and accepted one of my carabiners in exchange for a promised donation to CureSearch.  I'm giving a big shout out to Carol for being the first of the group to make a donation.  Thank you so very much!!!

Following the trail along the Eno River.

Enjoying the scenery from the top of a big rock before the main ascent.

View of the Eno River from the rock.

Second day in a row with some barefoot rock climbing. :)

Made it down safely.  Now up to the summit.

Seriously?  We have these in the piedmont?!!  I had no idea!

Enjoying the view from the overlook.  What a great day!


PS -- If you're wondering what ever happened to that Barefooting FAQ I promised, I haven't forgotten.  I'll get that posted within in the next 2 weeks.

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