It has become my favorite weekend of the year. Hands down. I love Lake Logan weekend. When Melissa and I were getting into triathlon, circa 2008-09, we started looking for races in interesting places around the State of North Carolina. Long enamored with the foothills of Asheville and points west, I stumbled upon\u00a0Lake Logan International Triathlon, just outside of Canton, N.C. We first did the race in August of 2009, spending Friday night in nearby Waynesville, then Saturday night after the race in Asheville. I fell immediately and irretrievably in love with that weekend and in particular, Lake Logan.\r\n\r\nWe\u2019ve done it five years running now and it has never failed to leave me deeply satisfied. Annually held on the first Saturday of August, Logan comes at a time of year that finds my soul in need of nourishment \u2013 deeply diminished by the grinding heat and humidity of a long summer and the bleak morass that is the sports world between the end of the Tour de France and the start of College Football season. Logan is a welcome retreat from steamy Raleigh into the high hills west of Asheville, and as we make that annual drive up the mountain on I-40, my blood pressure drops in corresponding degrees with each west bound mile marker. Logan is medicinal \u2013 I daresay even spiritual. It is my late summer North Star and I am reminded each year of the simple, luxuriant pleasure of needing a long sleeve t-shirt against the cool morning air.\r\n*****\r\nAccording to the site\u00a0digitalheritage.org, Lake Logan sprang up in 1932 when the powers that be at Champion Mill, located in nearby Canton, decided to dam the West Fork of the Pigeon River, resulting in an 87 acre lake that flooded the former logging community of Sunburst. Named for Logan Thompson, the son of Peter J. Thompson who founded Champion, Lake Logan soon became home to various meeting, sleeping and dining facilities constructed from logs of deconstructed cabins in nearby counties and served as a retreat for Champion Mill executives well into the 1990s. Many of the buildings survive today and were purchased by the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina in 2000 after Champion sold its holdings. The Diocese operates a retreat at Logan and in 2006 sponsored the first Lake Logan Multi-Sports Festival, which has grown to include international and sprint triathlons, an aqua-thon (swim\/run) and aqua-bike (swim\/bike).\r\n*****\r\nThe swim portion of the triathlon is one of the very few wetsuit-legal swims (possibly the only one) in the summertime triathlon circuit throughout the Carolinas, which indicates that the water temperature is below the acceptable wetsuit cutoff temperature of 78 degrees. Usually it is considerably cooler and this year it was a bone-chilling 67 degrees. The last hundred yards or so of the swim goes under the Lake Logan Road bridge and directly into the chilly mountain stream which feeds the lake, resulting in a lung-seizing five to ten degree drop in temperature. It is cold, people, but in August, you appreciate that kind of thing.\r\n\r\nThe swim itself is enchantingly beautiful, setting off just after dawn, the narrow lake bookended by hills covered in hemlock and fir and topped by a cloud cover almost low enough to touch, hanging grey and cottony like soiled gauze over the water. The .9 mile course runs in a long rectangle and as you advance in that strange watery silence unique to lake swims, the hills to your right and left rise up in your periphery and you \u2013 I at least \u2013 feel totally at ease, peaceful and warm in the thought that there is no place on Earth I would rather be on the first Saturday in August than in this very place.\r\n\r\nThe bike course is 24 miles of mostly rolling hills through Southern Haywood County, bookended by steep climbs out of T1 and coming back, just before T2. It is Southern Appalachian farm country, generously dotted with picturesque and diminutive farms, ancient barns and the occasional work mule, brooding and contemplative in its pen. Mostly flat to downhill on the first nine miles, you don\u2019t so much ride the bike course as you float through it, enjoying the novelty of the cool air and the rustic countryside. You can almost hear banjo music in the air, although not in the moronic, clich\u00e9d sense of snickering Deliverance references, but deep in your veins \u2013 in the very fiber of your being, as if the hills are calling to you in bent, five string notes. And for me at least, it sounds a lot like home.\r\n\r\nThe last 15 miles of the bike are mostly up hill \u2013 the heady reverie a little less pronounced, the determined exertion a little more. Your average speed steadily declines as the hills exert dominion over any unspoken plans you may have harbored for a 22 mph average. The last climb is truly taxing, but Lake Logan is visible to the right, through the chlorophyll-choked cover of summer trees. You know you are closing in on the run and this carries you upward.\r\n\r\nThe run is a 10k \u2013 three miles mostly uphill from the base of T2 along Lake Logan Road to Sunburst campsite just within the borders of Pisgah National Forest (the campsite takes its name from that long-forgotten logging community). This is followed at the turn by the much-anticipated pleasure of three miles mostly down hill back to the finish. The run is always an especially happy time as you pass friends either going or coming and contemplate the completed swim and bike in between high fives and shouts of encouragement.\r\n\r\nThe finish is always sun-splashed, the low cloud cover of early morning burned away as friends gather to cheer each other and chat about the race \u2013 what went right, what went wrong, how cold the water was, etc. The temperature is late summer perfection \u2013 warm but not hot \u2013 and we make our way to the food tent where we eat sandwiches and chat some more. We are pleasantly tired after 31 miles of swimming, biking and running and as we sit there amongst friends in the perfect post-race warmth, it is, how can I put this\u2026 exceedingly nice.\r\n\r\nLater, Melissa and I always check in at the Indigo Hotel in downtown Asheville \u2013 an easy walk to all that downtown has to offer, which is much. After lunch and a nap, we\u2019ll meet friends again for well-earned margaritas and dinner at our favorite Asheville establishment,\u00a0Salsa\u2019s. We\u2019ll dine in the narrow ally way outside and soak in the perfect mountain air. Saturday night after dinner can go late and on occasion ends early, but is always fun.\r\n\r\nSunday, we\u2019ll sleep in and have breakfast at\u00a0Early Girl Eatery\u00a0or\u00a0Over Easy.\u00a0Afterwards we\u2019ll walk over to\u00a0Mast General Store\u00a0and my favorite bookstore, Malaprops, where I take almost as much pleasure eavesdropping on the aging hippies gathered earnestly to discuss new age mumbo jumbo as I do in the truly wonderful selection of books.\r\n\r\nWe linger, not wanting to leave. We order coffee, we stroll, we take in Asheville and all of its charms. And then, reluctantly, we get in the car and we head home. And on the drive home, we talk about our weekend and Logan weekends of years past, and the four-hour drive breezes by. Its Monday after Logan as I write this, and we\u2019ve already planned next year\u2019s trip.\r\n\r\nI told Melissa that when I kick the bucket, I want my ashes spread over Lake Logan. And though nothing is guaranteed, I\u2019m hoping we\u2019ll have a lot more Logan weekends between now and then.\r\n\r\nAlan Piercy is a freelance writer and veteran endurance athlete from Raleigh, NC. He has completed two Ironman triathlons and the JFK 50 Mile ultra run among other events. He writes frequently about the challenges and rewards of competing in endurance sports and his blog can be found at\u00a0www.triathletechronicles.com\u00a0\u00a0\r\nWant to submit a race report, story, or essay for the website? Shoot an email to submit[at]blueridgeoutdoors.com.