I finally made it to the Waterfall mountain, a place I mentioned a few weeks back (WTF). It was really a WTF WTH kind of trip.
Actually this Christmas break, I got to do two of trails I wanted to do after what seemed to be a long break. One was the Waterfall mountain (WTF) and the other was the Bull Run Occoquan trail.
I ran the Bull Run Occoquan last weekend. It took me longer to do it than I thought. I intended to run 31-ish mile (50k) on it, but in the end, I didn’t make it to even halfway, Maybe like 7 miles before turning around. The trail was mostly flat and muddy with only redeeming feature was some hills near Hemlock Overlook. Going to Hemlock Overlook brought back childhood memory. It was a special fieldtrip where you can do some rope work (tree climbing/zip line etc) and team building challenges. I enjoyed to have a “real” trail so close to home. I should have or I might have written about my adventure. Anyway, I don’t remember.
Waterfall Mountain was my this week adventure. I might have been there before for a camping trip. It is in or part of the Massanutten Mountain. Massanutten is always muddy and wet. But the cold weather made the trail slick. Waterfall Mountain was dry though. I didn’t see any waterfall. It could be that the trail went around the mountain rather than climbing it.
It is also a 50K course, but I only did half of it due to a later start and also the weather being below freezing, and also my physical fitness seemed to be lacking, and plus my thought was in another place.
I had a bad day that day. As I was heading to the trail I was pulled over by the police for speeding of 17 miles over the limit. I was angry about it because I pretty sure I didn’t speed (I kept within 5 miles over is the most I ever do). I had my eyes on the spedometer the whole time. Also I saw the police tailing me for about two miles before I was being pulled over. Then I was pulled over and the officer told me he did it because I was speeding. No I did not argue with him. He seemed to be angry at me, at least that was my impression. Anyway, that made my day. He asked why I was going so fast and where I was heading and if the car belong to me. I think he got the wrong person. Anyway, I got a speeding ticket.
I got to the trailhead. It was a big lot but only two cars were there because it was a very cold day to be out hiking. The temperature was 24F. It stayed pretty much there and might have gotten up to 30 by late afternoon. I was freezing most of the time (I took off one of my shirt – when running it would be just right, but while walking, I would be freezing, and I did not want to put on and put off my shirt all the time, so I preferred being cold).
But I had to do it. It has been a while since I was on a real trail. I love trails. This year, we did not go camping, at least I did not. I have meant to go by myself a few times but have not worked up the courage yet. So going to the Waterfall Mountain was like my first baby step. I had to read and study the trail notes and looked at the map ahead of time. I considered that part successful.
Now it was a blur but if anyone wants the trailnotes they are available on Virginia Happy Trail Running club site (under WTF). The notes were quite good and I relied on it.
I only did the first half (15 miles) plus 4 miles of getting lost.
I hiked most of it and ran a portion on some easier parts. Because it was so cold, most of the trail was iced over. It was slick. My own water tube was frozen (yes I forgot to push the water down the tube after drinking and it was frozen solid). Luckily, I had a handheld bottle and that was not frozen. Then I put the tube inside my shirt next to my body and the ice melted. It was one of the things that went wrong.
Most of the day I was “tilted” in that I could not get my head off of being pulled over by the police. So I was not paying a close attention to the trails and a few times I went off trail or missed a turn. The worse error was one when I missed the turn and had to backtrack and I became disoriented and did not recognize the trail I was backtracking on. So I had to run back and forth about three/four times over the same stretch and finally was able to convince myself which direction was the correct way. I was within three miles from my car too then and I could actually heard cars going by but I was so confused as which way was the right way to go in order to get out.
I was not scared of being in the woods. The worse case was staying over night there. I did not have my tent on me but it would not have been a life threatening situation. I had enough clothes on me, as well as water and food. I knew eventually I would be able to get out. The question was more like when. I prefer to be out by sunset rather than after dark. First of all, it is easier to find way in the day time than at night. I did make it out a little after sunset while there was just enough light left.
Another memorable moment was on certain part of the trail, I had to go into the stream (well the trail became a stream). I don’t exactly know why since normally people who make the trail normally would diverge water away from the trail. But I had this trail that the water was running down on it – yes trail errosion. I had to step into the water. On a warmer day, I wouldn’t mind. After that section, my pant legs were frozen from the water and the cold. I did not realize this until I got back to the car when I took off my shoes. I had two ring shackles around my ankles.
I then hightailed out of there because I have been wanting to be back at my house since the morning. If not for the pullover I would have enjoyed the trip much more. Yet it was a lesson learnt.