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Soft Star RunAmoc DASH performance in the Blue Ridge Mountains

  • Tuesday, September 20 2011 @ 10:26 PM UTC
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Running and Fitness

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A few weeks ago I was on vacation in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I wore my Soft Star RunAmoc DASH moccasins on a number of occasions.

I was completely in awe of the RunAmoc DASH trail sole's traction on the rounded boulders of the Appalachians.

Pictured here are my RunAmoc DASH on the Grandfather Mountain mile high swinging bridge, 5280 feet above sea level:

I was only able to sneak in one trail run during my vacation. I chose to wear the RunAmoc DASH since they felt so good crawling around on the rocks near the Grandfather Mountain visitor center.

I had researched some trails in advance of the trip and decided to run on the Tanawha Trail near the Blue Ridge Parkway and Grandfather Mountain. In summary, the trails were rooty and rocky and beautiful. I saw humans only once the entire time. I enjoyed the solitude.

I parked at the Cold Prong parking area (BRP milepost 299) which had a clearly marked sign to get on the Tanawha Trail, pictured here:

As far as I can tell, the nearest restroom facilities to the Cold Prong parking area are at the Price Park picnic area. I almost started my trail running at Price Park on the Boone Fork Trail, but decided to drive a bit further south to get closer to Grandfather Mountain and higher elevations. For someone wanting a shorter run than I did, or just a hike to the Rough Ridge boardwalk for some spectacular mountain views, there is parking along the Blue Ridge Parkway with easy access to the Tanawha Trail at both Raven's Rock overlook and at Rough Ridge.

The Tanawha Trail is awesome difficult trail running. I ran from the Cold Prong parking area uphill to the boardwalk at Rough Ridge, which is reportedly the highest point along the trail. Total distance was around 11.4 miles (estimated from the trail map). I didn't make it all the way to the top of Rough Ridge but turned around shortly after reaching the boardwalk due to time constraints. I ran for 2 hours 20 minutes total (12:16 per mile pace). I felt like I was working harder and moving faster than that, but I guess the trail, elevation change and altitude just made it seem that way. According to my watch I was actually 10 minutes slower on the way down than the way up. My lower legs were pretty tired by the last 3 miles. My quadriceps did fine, however. It seems that running football stadium stairs can help flatlanders like myself train for the mountains. I did not run with GPS but according to elevation data published on the web at B-Fick.com I believe that my run ranged from elevations of around 3600 feet - 4600 feet. That site also has trail map and pictures along with the elevation profile.

The Tanawha trail was exactly what I was looking for. It was mostly climb climb climb along narrow single-track, with a few brief downhills to make stream crossings over nice wooden bridges. The plant life varied as I climbed in elevation. I imagine the trail is spectacular when the rhododendrons are in bloom. I passed the Nuwati and Daniel Boone Scout Trails where they cross the Tanawha. Those trails require a permit (available at the trail head) and climb up to Grandfather Mountain. I was surely tempted to head up the Daniel Boone Scout trail but since I had left notes with my family that I was running Tanawha only, I decided to stick to my plan.

I almost turned around at Raven Rocks overlook, but the sign was missing and I wasn't completely sure I had gone far enough. I decided to press onward. I was just about to turn around when I passed a gentleman who convinced me (thank you sir!) to continue on up the trail to the boardwalk at Rough Ridge. Once I made it to the Rough Ridge boardwalk, the views of Grandfather Mountain and the surrounding area were spectacular.

Soft Star RunAmoc DASH with trail sole were awesome for this run. The trail sole had plenty of protection from the roots and traction was great on the rocky surfaces. Looking over the shoes now, my only concern is the durability of the stitching along the sides. Large portions of the Tanawha Trail included very narrow trails with vegetation rubbing legs with every step. I notice that the shoes now have some cosmetic wear evident along the sides and some of the stitching started to fray. This does not concern me for my use since I won't likely have this pair of shoes on rough trails again any time soon.

Additional information on the Tanawha Trail and other National Park Service areas near the Blue Ridge Parkway are available at the National Park Service web site.

The B-Fick site also has a panoramic view from the top of Rough Ridge (Flash required). The nearest parking area to Rough Ridge is at BRP milepost 302.
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