After coming to the conclusion that another new to me AT trail segment wouldn’t fit in the time I had available to hike, I settled on doing another segment of the Tuscarora trail. Unbeknownst to me, Kyle had the same idea. He had a draft write-up nearly finished when I posted the trip, so had some brief confusion on seeing a similar a similarly titled trip on the schedule before hitting the post on his trip.
While amusing, it would seem that this is also an indication that:
- I could have free-loaded if I had waited a bit longer
- I could probably email folks ahead of time if I want to do a backpacking trip with relatively little notice. It shouldn’t stop me from proceeding, but it’s nice to have another person to plan a trip with, especially since this was a shuttle hike.
- Organizationally, there isn’t great coordination between the various club organizers. It looks like Cassie’s trivial night is the current main avenue for coordination. Given how spread out the DC area is, this isn’t too surprising. Maybe something like a google group for the organizers that can email out a daily summary is something to try. We can talk at the 10th anniv about some tactics. I know that I miss out on a lot of things since I’m not on Facebook though. In any case, I would expect Karan and Kylie to just proceed with whatever trips they want to do.
As for the trip, we left from Vienna metro at 7:30. The upside of leaving then instead of at 5pm is that none of us hit bad traffic getting there or heading out I-66.
One of the reasons Kyle and I were both interested in this section of Tuscarora trail was that the drive was short compared with other backpacking options. We wound up positioning the cars for the “extra fun” segment where-by we would go from Elizabeth Furnace / Signal Knob parking past the Gehard Shelter to 55 for a total of 41 miles on the Tuscarora.
We night hiked in from the parking lot to camp up near the reservoir. We saw some deer and small snakes on the hike in.
For the most part, the trail was relatively well maintained. There were two segments with some patches of briar on them. Specifically, the portion past the reservoir running on the ridge and a bit on the ridge heading to 55. There are some blowdowns to be dodged, but nothing unreasonable. We only saw about another five backpackers or so all weekend.
The walk across the valley was interesting from the perspective of getting some variety.
There was a yard sale style flea market going on that day:
We stopped at a gas station for cold beverages and some ice cream. Toward the end of the valley hike, we saw what we think was a bald eagle take off with eviscerated prey in it’s talons. Otherwise, just the normal wildlife:
As seems to be a recurring pattern on my trips, we pushed on beyond our initial campsite as we had plenty of daylight left. We wound up making a dry camp about a mile before White Rocks at a very nice established campsite by the trail.
I wound up getting dehydrated at the end of the hiking on Saturday, so rehydrated at camp and made plans to bail at the original end point of the hike instead of 55. The remainder of the group pushed on to 55 and finished up around 2pm. After reversing the shuttle and eating in Front Royal, we were back in the DC area at a reasonable hour.
Kyle, Sophie and I will probably eventually do some more Tuscarora trail sections this fall, but haven’t scheduled anything yet.
-Andrew L. (Camel)