Trail running kept me going and step by step, enabled me to “figure out life” once again. At that time, I decided to train for the Shut-In Ridge Run – an 18 mile grueling trail race that starts in Bent Creek and heads up to the base of Mt. Pisgah. I focused my miles in Bent Creek and on the Mountains-to-Sea. My friend Tim Hunter encouraged me to change up our routes. Running a wide variety of trails brought challenge and excitement back into my life.
Many times when Tim and I were out for a run, we would not pass another person. We would ask each other: “Why aren’t there more folks out here enjoying these incredible trails just 15 minutes from most Ashevillian’s doorsteps?”
During these many miles, I realized that I wanted to give something back to Asheville and the idea for this book popped into my head. Living in Asheville and not being on the trails is like
living in the Alps and not skiing.
There was only one problem. I had never written a book, and had no idea where to start. Over the last two years, at various times I would put this project down (or toss it out the window).
However, it was my passion for the trails that made me to continue on in the face of various mistakes or setbacks.
I would not call myself a writer. In college I was a math major, and I went on to receive a Masters in Statistics. Writing wasn’t really my “thing.” So in spite of this I made it my mission
to write a guide that was both fun to read and informative. My goal was to create runs that varied in mileage as well as in difficulty, with had easy to read maps, and clear directions.
And, learn I did. To record my data, I first ran about 20 of the 26 loops with my Garmin 405 watch. Near completion, I learned that this watch was not precise. So, I thought – ok, I’ll just go
do it again. This time, I went out with my bike – which I double checked with a calibrated wheel. I biked every trail in Bent Creek, with a pedometer on my bike as well as a recommended
Garmin Map CS with an extra antenna strapped to my helmet. I even biked trails that I didn’t use for my loops. (Note: In the back of the book are charts showing the length of every trail,
along with its elevation high and low).
This past July, someone who tested one of my loops raised concerns. I went out with a calibrated wheel and, much to my dismay, some of the mileage was off. I decided that I had to
go back out there and re-log my loops for the third and last time. In the heat of August, I hiked all of the trails in Bent Creek with a calibrated wheel, and re-checked many of my miles on the
Mountains-to-Sea as well.
As a runner, I wanted to make sure that this book was as accurate as humanly possible. Hikers may not mind if a route is off by a tenth of a mile, but a runner definitely does. All my miles in
the book are recorded to two decimal spots. Every loop was “beta tested” by a runner unfamiliar with that particular trail so that directions could be checked.
So that’s my story. If I can help others find their way to the kind of enrichment that I’ve found on the trails of Asheville, then the research and writing will have been worthwhile. So go! Find
a trail and kick up some dirt. Your life may change in ways you never thought possible.