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When I ran the Rabun, Georgia Half-Marathon last month, I received a sticker with the race logo on it and the phrase “Do epic sh*t” printed at the bottom.  I laughed because that race seemed to fall under the category of epic, which has become synonymous with grand or monumental adventures.  Most of the time, I hear this term used to describe crazy free climbing expeditions or wild rides in a kayak down raging rivers, but I think we’ve done some pretty epic… uh, stuff this summer that didn’t necessarily involve possible death… well, not all of it.

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This summer, Isaac and I decided to see how many swimming holes we could find.  We began with one down behind a neighbor’s property and then moved on to the Mitchell River, Fisher River, and Widow Creek Falls.  We’ve also done some pretty “epic” tubing on Lake Norman with our friends the Whalens (*pictures to follow, I hope).

Isaac and Harper Lee both love the water.  Isaac once told his teacher that being in the river was his “natural habitat.”  Aside from swimming every morning at the pool for swim team practice, we have spent a lot of time wading through creeks, sliding down rocks and squishing toes in silky mud.  And for Isaac, the colder the water, the better.  Scout has even finally eased into the whole swimming thing, which she was not particularly excited about at first.

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Isaac and Henry at the top of the Knob

In addition to swimming holes, Isaac and I (along with five other crazy boys) went to Cub Scout camp at Raven Knob.  This is one of my favorite activities each summer.  I love Boy Scout Camp!

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The lake at Camp Raven Knob– yet another swimming hole

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One of our favorite spots at Fisher River.  Our friend Lanie came with us that day.

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Chillin’ by the river

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Harper Lee’s “war paint”

Sometimes a race through swimming holes is also a good thing.  One of our favorite races is The Trout Tattoo.  It’s through the Yadkin River.  Several times.   And this year, we had a slightly different course.  There were seven spots with “fish” at each spot.  We each had a map with an “x” marking the location of the fish.  By the end of the race, we had to have all seven different colored fish, and how we got them and what course we followed (on or off the path) to get them was irrelevant.  So some people may have run 2.5 miles and some may have run 4.5.  There was a bit of strategy involved.  I picked a route, and with the exception of a run-in with bees that thwarted my original plan, I pretty much followed it and did really well.  I felt like I spent more time in the river than on land, but it worked.  Nothing like muscling through river currents while the clock is running to get your heart going.

Harper Lee has been my partner in this race for three years, and it’s her favorite.  Unfortunately, she had sprained her ankle badly in a pick-up soccer game at camp two days before so she had to sit this year out.  She worked as a sherpa for the race, but I know she was bummed about not running it.  However, both she and Isaac are plotting  strategies for Derek’s upcoming “Ice Leech” race, which is the same course, only in the fall when the water is colder.  And at night.  Yeah.  Night.  This was not on my list, but who am I to shrink from a challenge when my kids are into it?  Headlamps for everyone!

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Some of our adventures moved uphill from the water.  Way uphill.  Yesterday, I ran the Looney Boone Raccoon.  It was 10-14 miles, depending on who you ask and how adventurous you were feeling.  We began on the Boone Fork Trail off the Parkway and went up to Calloway Peak and Attic Window, and some folks went out to McCrae Meadows.

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The six photos above are courtesy of Derek Cernak, the original rabid squirrel

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And then we dropped down into something called The Chute.  I know this is an unflattering butt shot, and it truly does NOT capture the intensity of the climb, but I love it anyway.  This “run” was really a rock-climbing, hyperventilating, pulling myself up and over rickety ladders trail adventure.

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My hair looks like Doc’s hair in “Back to the Future” but that’s because there were 40 mph gusts on top, and I’m including this because this is what doing epic stuff makes me feel like. Wild, strong and free.   I highly recommend it.

At the top of each crazy, “holy crap” climb yesterday, someone would shout “Woooo!” and raise their hands above their heads.  That’s how I’ve felt most of the summer.  My kids always say, “A day without blood and mud is wasted.”  They are quoting me.  And I must say that a lot because other people’s kids often quote me too.

This summer, we’ve had a sprained ankle, a possible broken hand, bee stings, bruises, abrasions, scabs on elbows and knees, a split lip, a broken nose, and a helluva case of poison ivy.  We’ve had a good summer.  I’d say it’s been epic.

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