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Flat Rock, Times Two

August 8, 2010

Flat Rock (1,987’)
Round-trip distance: 8.08 miles
Elevation gain: 3,350 feet

Normally I hike to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells the outdoors have to offer... generally I do it for the all-around experience. That was secondary on this particular hike; the primary objective was getting a solid workout in preparation for my upcoming backpacking trip to Colorado. The itinerary I have planned is more ambitious than ever, and I am far from being in the best shape of my life. This hike would help gauge how ready I might actually be.

This was Uncle John's 18th time ascending the Flat Rock Trail, and just my (and my dog Hunter's) second. It was already mid afternoon when we parked at Colonel Denning State Park and began the steep hike. To add to the training, I carried 40 pounds of dumbbells in addition to our food and drinks. This certainly added to the difficulty of the climb for me; sweat was rolling almost immediately as we began hiking in the mid-summer humidity.

Flat Rock

Water break at Flat Rock.

Partway up the slopes Uncle John commented we should do the climb twice today to add to the training. So, after we briefly stopped at the summit to get a drink and enjoy the view, we descended quickly to my jeep. I dumped the weights, which by this time were digging painfully into my lower back. Now feeling light as a feather, I kept pace with Uncle John and we made our way quickly back up the trail.

I hadn't kept track of our time on the first ascent, but this time we hiked to Flat Rock in 45 minutes, again took a short break to enjoy the view, and then descended the trail for the second time in 40 minutes. Most of the trail is steep, punctuated by some easier switch-backs, as well as a flat area between the two ridge-tops. On our second ascent/descent, we ran this part of the trail.

Flat Rock

While tiring, this hike was exactly what I needed. I feel confident now that I am not in horrible shape. Also we talked to several people along the trail, while having the view at Flat Rock to ourselves both times we stopped there.