In what has become a pattern for me, I posted this last-minute trip to Central SNP. The route was designed to give us a solid 17 mile day on Saturday and avoid crowded areas (i.e. anything near Skyline Drive). Our official start time was 9:30am but a few folks (Mark, Liz, & Shane) chose to give themselves more daylight by starting earlier. By the time Karan and I rolled in around 9am, the small lot was already filling up. Luckily, everyone in our crew found a spot and once Holley & Reza arrived, we got started.
Almost immediately, we were slowed down by a non-hoppable stream crossing but we found a dry way across just upstream. We started gradually climbing up the Buck Hollow Ridge Trail and quickly warmed up in the sun. We found that some parts of the trail were not feeling the same warming effects that we were: snow and ice still lined the shaded parts of the trail. Not for the first time this winter, we were surprised to see the snow considering the warmer temperatures during the week prior. Luckily, there was enough room in most places to walk next to the snow, rather than on it.
In less time than expected, we had reached the top of the climb and caught up with Shane. Everyone except for Liz & Mark (who were still ahead), convened for lunch shortly before we met up with the Catlett Spur, which we would be taking the following day. It was still too chilly to hang out for long so after we ate, we quickly got moving. Soon after, we had a long descent down the Hot Short Mountain Trail. At this point, camp was just steps away! We planned to camp just south of this intersection between Hot Short Mountain Trail and the Nicholson Hollow Trail but we were taking the long route so it would be another eight miles before we actually arrived.
The Nicholson Hollow Trail was gradual but my legs definitely felt it as we started climbing more steeply along the Indian Run Trail. Here, we ran into Liz and Mark, who were making good progress. We took a brief break near the top before descending all the way back to Nicholson Hollow.
We were all able to set up camp and start cooking before it got dark. Without a campfire, we lingered for as long as we could stay warm before retreating to our respective shelters. It got chilly overnight and remained that way as we started up the Hannah Run Trail in the morning. It was a long and steady climb. I enjoyed seeing the remnants of old fireplaces and stone walls. It made me wonder about who used to live there!
We retraced our steps across the Hazel Mountain Trail before turning onto the Buck Ridge Trail. This was a fairly steep descent (with stairs included). One more detour to avoid getting our feet wet and we arrived back at the parking lot. Overall, this was a lovely trip. It’s great when all goes according to plan!
Here’s link to the route on Caltopo: https://caltopo.com/m/6UG5