With much back and forth we decided that a week of hiking and running in the Smoky Mountains would be PERFECT! It's a reasonable drive, not too expensive... how could we lose?!?!?
Oh I know... the Government could be bickering about a budget and all the National Parks could be shut down. ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? At different points, we briefly considered forgetting the whole trip but then we realized if we don't go then those stupid politicians WIN... or something.
Thankfully I had a great friend that was headed there a week or so before me. She did ALL kinds of fact finding and exploring and I was able to reap the benefits
It appeared that although the National Parks were closed, the National Forests were open for business. So we headed out on an hour and a half drive to beautiful Pisgah National Forest.
After death defying drive up what seemed to be an endless uphill, hairpin turn covered, gravel road, we found the parking lot for Max's Patch. And immediately realized that the previous night's rain had made it so foggy at this elevation that we couldn't see more than 20-30 feet in front of us. But, we had driven all this way.... so let's get running!
We found our way onto the Appalachian Trail and started moving. My husband is a faster runner than me so we fell into the pattern of him trotting ahead a bit and then coming back to check on me. Of course it was so foggy out, every time he did this it was like he had appeared out of nowhere and scared the living crap outta me. good times.
The trails were amazing! But my puny Indiana trained quads were not equipped to handle the relentless downhills! Yikes. I ended up running ten miles that I'm CERTAIN would have equated to at least 15 in Indiana. I heard one bear (which was only made creepier by the fact that it was so foggy he could have been 6 feet away from me) and I got to have one of my creepiest/awesomest/magicalist/most difficult runs yet. And I got to share it with my husband of ten years.
We spent the rest of our trip doing easier runs, hiking, napping, and eating. At one point we started laughing because we couldn't imagine that ten years ago we would have ended up as people that wanted to hike and run their butts off as a vacation. But I'm pretty glad it worked out this way.