Trip Report: Starting Spring on White Rock Cliffs

In an effort to get more new DCULers out on the trail, Karan set up this low-mileage trip with a roughly even mix of members and applicants. We met up at the designated trailhead along Waites Run Road and set out on the Tuscarora Trail at 10:15am. Rose hadn’t shown up yet but with no access to cell service, we had to get started and hope to hear from her later. 

The weather felt fairly appropriate for the first day of spring: there was a chill in the air but the sun warmed us up as we climbed. A few miles later, we arrived at the Gerhard Shelter where we stopped for a nice lunch break. Karan saw a message from Rose indicating that she was running late but hoped to catch us on the trail. From there, we descended the Gerhard Shelter Trail and met up with a dirt road. The road was wide enough for us to chat side-by-side as we walked. We eventually met up with the Wilson Cove Trail & Forest Service Road. At the end of that, we skirted a nice looking pond and then ran into someone who informed us we were on private property- oops! We backtracked to the Old Mail Trail which would take us a more direct route to camp (i.e. a short-cut) that did not run through private property. We took a break at the start of the trail but still didn’t run into Rose. 

We tanked up for the night a short time later and then started the gradual but persistent climb up to the ridge. It wasn’t long before we had all made it to the top. From there, it was just a little more climbing to the junction with White Rock Cliffs. There was a small campsite at the intersection but it was definitely not big enough for 10 of us so we descended towards the cliffs and found a large, if somewhat slopey, campsite near the cliffs. In no time, we had a fire going and a pile of wood to feed it for a few hours. Most of the group wasted no time getting started on their dinners. A little while later, Rose arrived! She had stuck to Karan’s GPS route which turned out to involve a fair amount of bushwhacking on what we later realized were “abandoned” trails.

The fire and fireside chats kept us entertained until hiker midnight (9pm). The wake up call was at 6:30am and the morning plans included an optional sunrise at White Rock Cliffs. There we enjoyed the views and a sunrise photoshoot before starting the hike for the day.

Our Sunday route was simple: follow the Tuscarora Trail back the cars. There was some climbing involved (despite a few attempts to get Karan to promise there wouldn’t be any). We took a short break at the intersection with the Halfmoon Trail and even went down behind the campsite there to check out the modest view. From that intersection, it was (almost) all descent back to the trailhead. There were a few stream crossings and one small climb on the way. Everyone made it back in good form. What a great way to kick off the spring backpacking season!

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