In the Zone
Black Mountain Kentucky
Summit Date: 11/25/12
I kept driving and driving, the darkness had overtaken everything and the steady hum of the car on the highway was gently lulling me to sleep. So far in one day I had driven from before sunrise to after sunset, and was still going. I stopped for dinner at a pizza restaurant which turned out to be a hidden gem. There was fire inside, the friendliest people, and a HUGE pizza with every topping you’d ever want. Taking some time to research and stop at local restaurants has always been rewarding, getting great quality food, amazing service, and good prices. I ate my fill, which is always dangerous when getting back on the road.
Afterwards I began driving again; it was already 9:30pm. I continued across Virginia heading towards the Kentucky border. If I drove as close as possible to Black Mountain Kentucky that night, I could summit early in the morning, then head to Mount Rodgers, VA. Virginia would not only be the highest peak of the five summits at 5729ft but also entailed the most difficult trek yet as it involved an 8 mile round trip hike.
I grabbed a hotel in Marion Virginia, where Kate and I stopped driving at roughly 12:30 making for an 18 hour day in the car. Sleep came fast and hard.
The morning dawned with sun poking through the shades. A shower had never felt so good, the hot water washing away the grime of too many hours in a car with the heat on mixed with hiking. I ate some of the continental breakfast and quickly headed out. At the car I tugging the door open, which had been sealed by the frost and the journey continue. Driving now felt like our mission and job, perhaps a way of life. I was immersed in the challenge of the next summit where thoughts of work, or the outside world could not penetrate in. After two hours of driving I finally began the climb up Black Mountain on a curving treacherous road. The road was clearly been built for mining and not a highway however it had simply been repurposed.
The Kentucky trek was interesting because a majority of the climb was in Virginia and you only cross the border for less than a half mile. I drove almost to the top where it was a short hike from there. It was not the most beautiful summit to date, as it was surrounded by transmission equipment, and directly across from a mountain top coal mining site. The mine was a strange sight, oddly artistic in the way roads were formed wrapping around the mountain and dig sites.From the top you could actually turn 180 degrees and see both the Virginia and Kentucky sign on the road.
After taking several pictures at the top we climbed back into the car and began, creeping down the mountain. Soon I hit the bottom, made it to the highway, and took off full speed back into Virginia. Back on the way to the last destination, it was going to be a frantic dash. It felt good to be headed towards the last summit, also going in the right direction of home. The miles zoomed by with a quiet drone as autopilot took over. I was fully in the driving zone now.