One of the things I learned from my reconnaissance to Uwharrie a few weeks ago was that I was quite underprepared in my steep uphill hiking fitness. You’d think running up hills would be adequate, but Uwharrie is different from my local terrain in that it is littered with longer, steeper climbs. When you’re going 40 miles, this means hiking them if you aren’t a mountain goatesque freak of nature.
I’m not that. I do far better on more gradual inclines of 5-7 percent.
This means that I needed to find somewhere I could do uphill hiking repeats on a worthy incline without driving to the mountains proper. Enter Cox Mountain in Eno River State Park.
First, Cox Mountain isn’t a mountain. It’s a “mountain”. It’s a sizable and rocky hill near a river valley, so relative to the generally rolling landscape around here, it’s a heck of a hill.
There is an incline that rises 150 feet in a quarter mile, which is a legitimately hikable pitch. Said pitch is marked with a resting bench half way up (which I declined to use) and is enough to get one’s heartrate accelerated without resorting to any running. I did see a few people running up it, but I wasn’t one of them.
I hiked up that sucker 4 times and “ran” down 5 times since I approached the hill from the back side. Well, there was a solid hike on the back side too.
Anyway, attempts to run down this steep and technically challenging piece of trail were fraught with peril. I did what I could figuring it made little sense to risk life and limb in the process.
I am happy to report I made it out alive. I’ll call this training event a success.