Pics from the trip: https://photos.app.goo.gl/PbTW1fSeQ3tEcdtT6
Nine people – a mix of applicants and veterans – gathered at Grosvenor metro and drove to the Lost Turkey/John P Saylor trailhead. It was a sunny Saturday morning and we had a beautiful day ahead of us. The drive was smooth and we were on the trail around 11 AM. Our plan was to hike the big loop counter clockwise, and the small loop clockwise.
We began hiking and after a mile or so, we reached Wolf Rocks. On my previous visit to JP Saylor trail, we had gone past it, but this time, we made a lunch stop. As we explored around and did some scrambling, we found an overlook atop slabs of rocks covered by tons of graffiti. It was an unusual sight – but the colors shone bright in the sun. We took a few pics and resumed hiking.
The JP Saylor trail is fairly gentle overall. It gets muddy and rocky in a few places, and in a few spots, we did get our shoes damp. The path is not well worn out though and the trail people have done a great job of putting in plenty of orange blazes, making it rather hard to lose the trail. We ran into two backpackers, and ultimately saw them a few times over the course of the trip. When we got to the junction of the smaller loop, we used the bridge to cross Clear Shade Creek. The bridge provided a nice spot for photos ops.
On the smaller loop, we did the rather short climb and reached the top of the plateau. There was some amount of blow-downs on the trail in this section – nothing that was too difficult to dodge around. Everyone moved rather well, resulting in getting to camp around 4 PM. We found spots, set our tents close to the floor-less shelter. Heavy D chose to cowboy-camp – who could blame him since the skies were clear. Campfire, dinner, banter, more photo ops, and pretty soon it was 8 PM and everyone was in their sleeping bags under the full moon!
Despite losing an hour due to the daylight saving change, we all had a long night of sleep. Many of us woke to a chilly morning with a decent amount of frost on the bags or the tents. We declared that the overnight low was 17 degrees. We resumed hiking the small loop clockwise and descended to the Clear Shade Creek. This section was a bit muddy, but the frost made it easier to keep our feet dry. We ran into another day hiker going the opposite direction – a sign confirming that we had started rather late in the day.
We crossed the bridge again, where I thought everyone had made it – cue the suspense music. We enjoyed a view of the bog and sights of frozen ice above shining green algae. The remaining miles to the cars flew by fast and everyone made good time back to the cars – except for Sophie. It turns out that Sophie missed the turn on the bridge and hiked extra miles before running into the same day hiker. After finishing, the day hiker kindly drove to our parking lot and informed us what had transpired. We intercepted Sophie at one of the final road crossings and then we were re-united.
We decided to skip Horn-o-Plenty and stop at the hiker-appetite-friendly Bedford Diner on the way back. The breakfast food arrived fast and was good – so this place can be added to DCUL’s approved list of diners and restaurants. We made it to Grosvenor around 4.
Thanks everyone for joining this laid back trip and congrats to the applicants for becoming members!