Trip Report: To Set or Not to Set on Duncan Knob

This weekend we set out on a DCUL LM classic: the Duncan Knob loop in Massanutten. The crew gathered at the Vienna metro station on Saturday morning for an 8:30 AM departure. We planned to meet Chris at the 211 parking lot, where he was walking to from his house. Chris was a little delayed so he agreed to catch us further up the trail. Altogether, our group was made up of seven members (Aileen, Ian, Burke, Chris, Christi, Karan, and I) and five fresh faces (Roy, Phil, Bryant, Mark, and Susanne).

It was a brilliant morning as we started along the connector trail—high 40s and sunny. We chatted among ourselves as we hiked through the slightly overgrown path onto the real trail. At the junction with the Massanutten trail, we took a brief break to allow people to get water. Chris caught us there and the whole group set out up Waterfall Mountain. Everyone agreed that it was quite a steep climb but we made it up without a problem. A mile or two later we had lunch at Q’s view.

After resting and refueling, we followed that familiar, rocky Massanutten ridge. I found the footing to be tricky sometimes with all of the rocks hidden under the leaves. At Jawbone Gap, we decided to check out the view a short way up the trail. Despite passing by this junction so many times, I had never been up there before. It offered a pretty nice view and we could see Duncan Knob, where we planned to be a few hours later. We also ran into two day hikers who expressed disbelief that some of us were camping out overnight with such tiny packs!

Around 3:30 PM, we started down the Jawbone Gap trail. We filled up water for the night at the bridge after crossing the road. From there, it was about a 1.5 mile hike up to our planned campsite at Peach Orchard Gap. A group of six was already set up there but they didn’t mind us setting up nearby. We collected firewood, pitched our shelters, and then scrambled up to Duncan Knob. The view was nice but by this point the sky was mostly cloudy. We had a healthy debate about whether there would be a nice sunset or not. Mark, whose trail name is Bright Side, assured us that it would be good but it was not to be. We ate our dinners by the fire and engaged in some fireside chatter before heading off to bed.

The rain, which we had been expecting, started overnight. Luckily it seemed to lighten up as we packed and started down the trail. Since there would be no view at Strickler Knob, we took the Scothorn Gap trail to connect back with the Massanutten. It sprinkled, misted, or rained with some consistency as we hiked out but it was never too heavy or cold. We celebrated the successful trip with golden fried potato cubes at Uncle Buck’s in Luray.

I had a nice time catching up with familiar faces and welcoming new people to the group. Thanks everyone for a great trip and congrats to the five new members!

You can view photos from the trip and upload your own here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/6hzM7pkrADcGusvo8

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