"Perhaps the genius of ultrarunning is its supreme lack of utility. It makes no sense in a world of space ships and supercomputers to run vast distances on foot. There is no money in it and no fame, frequently not even the approval of peers. But as poets, apostles and philosophers have insisted from the dawn of time, there is more to life than logic and common sense."
- David Blaikie

Friday, October 29, 2010

Foothills Trail (FHT)

I'm starting to get my act together for a shot at the Foothills 77 Mi Trail on Nov 20th. Here's some more info about the trail and history of the run.

I've got USGS maps for the Table Rock, Eastatoe Gap,  Reid and Cashiers quadrangles up in my office and have ordered the Tamaassee and Walhalla quadrants just East of Satolah. I don't think the course strays into Satolah, but may need that one too. There's an actual trail map available at the Foothillstrail.org site that I ordered, 'cause the trail ain't on the USGS maps!

Jason Sullivan tells me the FHT is marked very well and they just added over 30 new trail signs about a month ago.  The only two tricky sections are the 9 miles along the Chattooga (Burrell's Ford to Cheohee Rd.) and three miles between Virginia Hawkins & Laurel Falls. The trail is blazed well, even through these sections, but there are some sharp turns to watch out for. 

Here's Jason's description of each section:

1.  Table Rock (14.5 Miles) starts with a steep 4 mile climb, levels off, then steadily climbs to Sassafras Mt. (SC's Highest Peak).  After this, you have 5 miles of nice downhills.  Possible aid points at 9.5 and at the end of this section.  

2.  Laurel Valley (33.5 Miles) begins in a gravel parking lot off HWY 178.  This section is very strenuous and remote.  There are no support areas through here so you need to stock up before heading in.  After the initial climb from the parking lot you will have some nice runnable single track & fire-road for about 8-9 miles. There is a tough climb at the end of the section that brings you out at Whitewater Falls around mile 48.  

3.  Whitewater Falls to Burrell's Ford (12.5 Miles).  3 mile switchback climb out of WWF which takes you to a road crossing called Sloan's Bridge.  Support can be had here.  Some of this section is technical, but after the initial climb from WWF, there are no more major climbs in this section.  As you leave Sloan's Bridge you head gradually uphills towards the Fish Hatchery which is about 3.3 miles.  Aid can be had here too.  From here there is an awesome 3.5 mile downhill section towards Burrell's Ford where you meet up with the Chattooga river.  Aid is possible here too.

4.  Burrell's Ford To Oconee State Park (16.3 Miles).  There are no major climbs in this section either.  However, the trail does get rather technical in places along the river.  There is no support areas through here until you reach Cheeohee road about 9 miles in.  The trail is moderate to easy for the final 6-7 miles.

So, Aid/Crew Access is avaialable at:
-Sassafrass Mt. 9.7 Miles
-Laurel Valley Access  14.5 Miles
-Upper Whitewater Falls 48 Miles
-Sloan Bridge 52.6 Miles
-Fish Hatchery 56 Miles
-Burrell's Ford 60 Miles
-Cheohee Road 72 Miles
That section through Laurel Valley looks like the hitch... 33.5 miles without aid is never anything to sneeze at. Going to have to add a new water purification system to my birthday wish list!

Now to round up some crew!


GeorgiaSnail said...

Yeah, I will be crewing until about AS 12 or 13, and then jumping in and pacing Psyche for the last 30 or so miles...speaking of which, Psyche just ran the FHT...She has a bunch of info on her blog about it. That LV section is gnarley...I'd like to run Claude Sinclair's LV race next year(well, first timers have to sweep)...

Joseph Lea said...

Cool! I saw Psyche's blog posts on her FHT adventures a while back. Need to revist that. Thanks for the reminder.