Feature Photo Credit: Sophie!
Itching to hike over the Memorial Day weekend before it got really hot, I set up a social distancing version of the Massanutten trip. 5 people joined and 5 people finished with varying degrees of foot pain 🙂 Here are some of the important aspects of the trip:
- Anniversary: In 2010, Evan led the first Massanutten trip for DCUL over Memorial Day weekend, making our trip the 10 year anniversary version. I wasn’t aware of this fun fact before the trip, but I think it made the trip extra special! Evan – Thank you for starting this tradition!
- Plan and Splits: Inspired by Evan’s recent route, and with a suggestion from Brian, we chose to start at the Roosevelt parking lot and hike CCW. The route worked out fairly well especially as we had 2 hammockers. The campsites on day 1 and 2 can accommodate up to 10 tents, but for day 3, folks may need to get creative (perhaps finding a campsite immediately past Moreland Gap Road). Splits were 11/22/21/16 miles. Here’s our plan: https://caltopo.com/m/QS9G
- Weather: The weather was warm (70-80 degrees) and humid. We had a downpour at camp on Friday night that lasted only 30 mins, but seemed to have dropped >0.5inches of rain. There was a lot of sweating and we all had different levels of unpleasant smells by the end.
- Trail Conditions: For folks not familiar with the trail, it is pretty rocky in certain areas (Short Mountain Ridge, Jawbone Ridge). There were minor sections that were starting to show signs of overgrowth. We saw a few ticks, but they weren’t out in masses yet.
- Feet: Yes, Massanutten is always going to be hard on your feet (rocks, rocks, rocks). Yes, heat and humidity is going to make it worse. Yes, not wearing shoes in COVID times during weekdays doesn’t help. And that’s why, yes, Massanutten builds character.
- Wildlife: We had Deer, Owl, Turkey sightings. No bear sighting though.
- People: We came across 5-10 people trying to do the full loop. There were a decent number of people out at Signal Knob, Buzzard Rock, and Strickler Knob areas (Signal Knob parking lot was full!!). There were a ton of bikers, including one who was dragging his bike up Waterfall mountain – ouch!
- New Trail Names: The camaraderie was amazing and helped keep the spirits high as we battled the tough conditions. A few folks earned alternative trail names: ULNS, MNS, Nature Boy/Boi, Sleeping Beauty, Cat Daddy.
- PA Trail: It occurred to me that besides technically being in Virginia, Massanutten is truly a Pennsylvania trail. The rockiness, the steep climbs, the ridge walks, the solitude (at least in most parts), did I say the rockiness already? No offense, VA trails, but PA trails are special.