Trip Report – Duncan Knob: The Mountains Are Killing Us!

As the trip drew near, some of us dreaded the doomed weather. With the forecasts calling for 90%+ chance of rain through Saturday and Sunday, and more than an inch of rain predicted, four of us started the trip. Pat, Shane, Sophie, and I left the Vienna parking lot and made good time to the trailhead.

We began hiking on the Massanutten Connector from 211 and walked the muddy, wet (from recent rain) white-blazed trail to the base of Waterfall mountain. The air was humid, and there was no precipitation yet. Hopping on the Massanutten trail, and reminiscing the full/half/mega-assanutten trips we’ve done before, we attacked the steep climb that led us to the top of Waterfall Mountain. Drenched from sweat, we took a short break at the top, enjoying the cool breeze. With the ideal temperatures in mid-fifties, we relished hiking on the ridge. The overlook from Q’s View, which is artistically carved on a rock nearby, offered a great place to stop and take a lunch break.

Shane thought there were very few trucks on I-81, for a highway like I-81. Back on the trail, we made our way North. We came across a few people who were clearing the trail (which was overgrown some in places). This was in preparation for the Massanutten 100-miler over the next weekend. Shane recognized a famous runner in the group. We thanked them for their work.

At Jawbone Gap, we left the Massanutten trail and took the blue-blazed Jawbone Gap trail down to Crisman Hollow Road. We tanked up water at Passage Creek and made it to the Duncan Knob campsite around 3:30 PM. Pat and Sophie declared that the forecasts weren’t calling for significant rain for another 2 hours, so we quickly setup camp and decide to scramble up to Duncan Knob. The view was nice despite the low clouds.

We went back to camp, collected firewood, and got a fire going. Pat checked the forecast – and again found out that the rain had delayed further, and was now 2 hours away. That would continue to be the pattern. Dinners, camp-fire conversation, and 9 p.m. came by pretty fast. Before the trip, I was picturing us inside our tents at camp (due to the definite rain), so I felt elated that we could actually hang out. I took a few time-lapses at camp – scope it out https://youtu.be/5F0D8vdzJl0 . It did rain some in the night.

The rain paused the next morning as we were packing up – I couldn’t ask for more. We retreated a little bit and hiked the yellow-blazed Scothorn Gap trail. Finally, it had started raining. The trail was very muddy and wet in many places. We danced around, but most of us couldn’t keep our feet dry (or avoid the mud). Shane stomped through the water pools.

We were quickly reunited with the Massanutten Trail and continued south. We had decided to skip Strickler Knob – nobody was interested in catching a clear view of the clouds. The water at Big Run was roaring. It started raining heavily a few minutes before we got to the cars, but we made it! A short drive later, we were enjoying golden fried cubed potatoes at Uncle Buck’s. We drove back to Vienna in pouring rain and said our goodbyes.

Thanks again everyone for joining and congrats to Pat for becoming a member! I was incredibly glad that the forecasts betrayed us – that’s two weekends in a row now. And I believe it will be a while before we will have mid-fifty degree weather in the Mid-Atlantic – glad we got a taste of that. Hope to see y’all on future trips!

B.A.

P.S. – Thanks to Sophie’s phone’s auto-correct feature for the trip report title.

(Alternate title: “That stream is flowing very well. Oh wait, that’s the trail!”)

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