DC UL: Tuscarora 4 Section (April 30-May 2, 2021)

Since Jen and I wanted to get a few more miles of our second jaunt of the Tuscarora Trail under our belts, we announced, a bit last minute, the section north of Gore to the Sleepy Creek area. For anyone curious, this section effectively expanded my section 4 from some years back, getting us a few more miles closer to Hancock and hopefully making section 5 a bit more pleasant. Logan and Brad joined us and we were very glad for the company. Friday night, April 30, Jen I headed out for Sleepy Creek to meet the others near Sleepy Creek Lake. We were about 30 minutes late: the road in to the lake was a little rough for my car. No big deal. We reversed the shuttle in Logan’s car, parked in Gore, and hiked the mile or so into the Barclays Run Shelter as the light failed. This shelter is lovely, but a bit of a challenge to get tents and hammocks set up around. We managed. Though we benefited from fine weather the entire weekend, Friday night got a bit cold. I recall thinking that my 40*F quilt was at its limits.

But Saturday dawned and we were off northbound on the Tuscarora. The first mile was a nice early morning stroll through farmlands, but of course, we were in for a large dose of road-walking. We crossed a creek, traversed 50, and walked by Willa Cather’s house. And then the road walking started in earnest. People who know me know that I don’t mind road walking so much, but 15 miles is a lot. There were points were I felt the traffic was a bit much, as well. The countryside was often pretty, especially on a blue bird day like this one. We joked that this stretch would be a lot more pleasant if there was a bar about halfway through. 

There wasn’t.

Nevertheless, we cruised, reaching the Basores Ridge Shelter before 11 a.m. We had a long lunch there. In my previous section hike, the miles north of this shelter were footpath, but I guess a grumpy landowner wrenched that, so we actually had more road to walk. In Siler, we actually thought, for a second, that there was a store open, but no. We had more busy road miles to walk, passing by a livestock auction before at last reaching gravel, a few streams, and the beginning of the footpath leading into the Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area.

The last 2.7 miles included the long, but well-graded and interesting, climb up to Shockeys Knob. The sounds of nature were broken by a few patriots preparing for the reboot of Red Dawn. We advanced under fire and gathered at the shelter, filled up at the spring, and moved a few hundred yards farther north to camp near a vista, as the shelter was taken by a family. We enjoyed sunset from the vista, but quickly went to sleep, as we were tired by the long day. The night was warmer and I slept soundly through to 5:45 a.m. or so.

Sunday, we were on the trail by 7 a.m. and hiking north along much easier footpath. We followed the ridge, passed High Rock, crossed Hampton Road, and then enjoyed very easy miles to the lake, where the cars waited. Jen and I took Logan back to his car in Gore, with the top down on a lovely day. Brad and Logan declined the tavern (Winchester), but I Jen and I did not. We briefly debated trying to offer some trail magic to a Tuscarora thru-hiker whose path we had crossed, but we felt it unlikely we could locate her.

All in all, a good weekend on a stretch that was dominated by road miles, but was quite nice when you were off the road. Gaia says we did splits like 1/20/10, with about 3,000 feet of gain, so rather flat. It was still nice to get the miles in.

Thanks, everyone, for keeping Jen and I company!

Photo credit: Brad Hess

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