Sunday (2/23/14) was one of the prettiest of the year so far and my friend Joie decided that it would be a perfect time to stretch our legs and our endurance at the Guest River Gorge. After the punishment I experienced at Camp Tom Howard three days before I wasn’t sure if I could do this or not. My spirit seemed close to broken.
If you have never experienced the Gorge or read about it here or other places let me give you a quick overview. It is absolutely beautiful, a converted rail line that runs 5 plus miles following the river from Coeburn to the merger with the Clinch River near Dungannon. The trail plunges around 1500 feet which means the return is a 1500 foot climb.
We started by agreeing that we should take it slow and steady so we would have the energy to run out. We also made sure to take ample water and tried a new idea, instead of energy gels or chews we took peeled oranges in a zip lock bag. Despite our best intentions we found ourselves lost in the day and the descent and maintaining a brisker than intended pace. When we reached the bottom we paused long enough to take a picture, eat some orange and then out we started.
The last time I ran the gorge I was alone and found it to be almost overwhelming. The climb was constant and excruciating and I honestly had moments that I doubted if I would make it. This time was entirely different! Having a great friend who also happens to be fairly evenly matched with you in ability and enthusiasm is an unbelievable blessing. We were able to work together to help and encourage each other during the return trip and not only made it out; we were smiling at the end. The oranges seemed to do great, natural sugar and sweetness with vitamins and potassium.