Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Trail Quest Goes Southeasterly! Part 3 of 3 - Heading Home

From Charleston, it was time to point ourselves back toward Boulder. Happily, there are quite a few states with trails between South Carolina and Colorado!

North Carolina - State #24 - March 23, 2017
Many folks had recommended a visit to Asheville, North Carolina and it just so happens that a magnificent trail runs through there: the Mountains to Sea trail that travels 1,175 miles from the North Carolina/Tennessee border in the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I was lucky enough to run a bit of this trail near Asheville - followed by a wonderful day and evening enjoying many of the delights that Asheville has to offer.

Starting down the forest trail


There is a teeny tiny runner crossing that bridge!

Yummy post-run breakfast at Tupelo Honey!

An evening of bluegrass - a perfect cap to the day!

Tennessee - State #25 - March 24, 2017
Next up for us was a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

My hope was to find a trail to run on the Tennessee side of the Park, and a trail was indeed found - none other than the Appalachian Trail which running buddy Amie had said was a "must do" during this trail quest. It turns out that it crosses Newfound Gap Road, the road we were cruising through the Park to get from North Carolina to Tennessee. And it turns out that the bit that goes from a parking area at the Tennessee/North Carolina state line hugs the Tennessee side of the state line. I only ran a little tiny piece of the trail (and walked some as well through the not-real-runnable bits) - but it was enough to realize that this trail could be rather addictive.

And after the trail run, a real treat! A rendezvous with our friends Mort and Lysa who were also doing a Southeasterly road trip. Picnic, hike and visit. An excellent day!


Kentucky - State #26 - March 25, 2017
We had debated whether or not to go to Lexington, Kentucky to try to catch some Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games of the NCAA women's basketball tournament - but impending snow storms and Paul's upcoming birthday kept us on more of a direct route to Colorado. Lucky for us, this route took us through Kentucky's Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area which offers up a plethora of trails. Which to run? Which to run? Ah hah! How can one pass up a loop called the Honker Trail?!  Forest, lakes, birds galore, and all kinds of woodland creatures. A honking fine run, indeed!


Between the lakes!


Missouri - State #27 - March 26, 2017
The 237-mile-long Katy Trail that runs across Missouri (much of it following Lewis & Clark's path) has been on my dream list of runs since way before this Trail Quest. I figured I'd just have to find a span of time when I was able to fit in 237 miles of running in order to check Missouri off the list. But, when we left Kentucky and headed into Missouri on our way to I70 and Kansas, lo and behold, we went right past a sign for the Katy trail. I quick got out the maps, told Kendall to take the next exit, and we found our way to a Katy Trail trailhead in Matson, Missouri where I waved goodbye to Kendall who would be picking me up a couple of trailheads down the way in Augusta. 'Twas a thoroughly enjoyable run - and it is definitely a trail worth coming back to to run from end-to-end.



Rock bluffs!
Kendall's overlook discovery

Vulture overlook. Yikes!

Forest flora


Blooming redbuds against the rocks

I'll be back!

Missouri was our last state of this southeasterly trail quest - but the fun continued with a visit to the Stanley family in Kansas City, Kansas. Our eldest's partner, Corinne, a teacher, arrived in KC from Portland for spring break with her family the same day we were to be passing through so we stopped in for visit. Thank you Stanleys, we do so enjoy seeing y'all!

From KC, it was a long haul back to Boulder - but not without some treats along the way - most notably an actual soda fountain in Quinter, Kansas just off I70. Road trip surprises continue!
Root beer float time!

 And best of all - a welcoming party when we arrived back home in Boulder!

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