Trip Report: Trout Run Valley, 3/30-3/31

Posted by Michael Martin on

Saturday morning, Brett, Steve, Dan, Booty-Less, and I all met up at Vienna. While we waited for people to arrive from the Metro, I shot the bull with people from CHC--it was so odd that were still talking about ice. In short order, we were on our way to Wolf Gap, where Miles was planning to meet us. The day was beautiful, with big, clear skies. We were all chafing at the bit to hit the trail.

On the way out there, I learned that this was Steve's first backpacking trip (he attended the gear swap and has hiked with me at CHC, before). He stated his firm intention to do nothing that could earn him a trail name.

When we pulled in at Wolf Gap, there was snow on the ground, and a veritable horde of Boy Scouts descending off Tibbet Knob. I have no idea where they all camped: I asked them, and even they didn't seem to know. They proudly said, "Up there on top!" We never saw a single spot that could accomodate all those tents. Perhaps they slept in bivvies dangling from the trees.

Also, Larry Broadwell, one of PATC's editors was there, getting ready to go up Big Schloss. I admired his measuring wheel and gave him my card. ;)

We headed south, climbing Tibbet Knob, which was icy from the horde's footsteps. Nevertheless, we rolled south, making great time. Some good ole boys were camped where the trail meets FR 691--we had to practically step over their grill. Long Mountain Trail was next, and we strolled along, enjoying this easy walking in the sun. The descent to Trout Run was soon behind us, and though we considered walking on, we had done what we had planned to do, and the campsite was way too appealing (we actually camped a ways back from the road).

We stopped at about 3:30pm, and spent the time tinkering around the campsite, improving the fire ring, gathering wood, and achieving perfect pitches on our shelters. I had brough a margarita pitcher from Pack It Gourmet with me, as well as 0.5 L of tequila ... this is a fantastic thing. I'm ordering about a dozen of them. We all just enjoyed the warm weather and listed all the crap we didn't have to worry about (water freezing, etc). At one point, I told Booty-Less that I wasn't even wearing socks in my bag. She agreed! It was paradise.

But the weather gods played us fickle the next morning. Up at 6am, trail at about 7:10am, but raining at 6:45am. As we walked the Bucktail Connector and climbed Half Moon Mountain, this seemed like no big thing. It was even pleasant at times, but the long stretch south on Mill Mountain Road was concerning. Temps in the 30s, rain, and a little wind. If the trees hadn't been there, I might have had flashbacks to Iceland. Brett and Steve handledthe adverse conditions with great aplomb, however. Miles demonstrated the usefulness of an umbrella--an undervalued trail tool, I think. Only Casserole (yeah, Dan finally gave up) bothered climbing Big Schloss--we were in a cloud when we reached the spur trail.

I did have an interesting gear experiment along this stretch. I had deliberately left behind my hard shell, even though I knew it was going to rain. Instead, I was using a MontBell wind shirt. It did fairly well in these conditions, and certainly, on the weight-to-usefulness scale, it's a great item. It weighs less than 2 oz. On the other hand, I did regret not having my hard shell (it weighs a pound). An interesting conundrum for how you allocate weight to utility to comfort in various conditions.

Anyway, we were soon back to the cars, and off to a massive meal at TGIF's in Front Royal.

Big shot out to Brett and Steve, who completed their first trip with DC UL in fine form. Sunday was not the easiest day ever, given the weather. I hope we see them again on the trail very shortly!

Our splits were a pretty even 13.5 / 13.5. We were walking fast when we walked, but we only walked about 5 hours each day.

Michael Martin posted on

So, for anyone who's interested, I just uploaded the KMZ file for this loop.

Google Earth says 26.6 miles, 5,479 feet gain / 5,479 feet of loss.


Joffrey Peters posted on

[quote]So, for anyone who's interested, I just uploaded the KMZ file for this loop.

Google Earth says 26.6 miles, 5,479 feet gain / 5,479 feet of loss.


Just did this as a day hike with a backpacking pack on today. This elevation gain sounds much more like the way it felt... not the 3400 or whatever Midatlantic hikes rates it. That's just bull.

Michael Martin posted on

Was it slushy hell?

I led the CHC's Leading Ridge trip yesterday. About 4,000 feet gain over about 9 miles. Slush at every step. Rather unpleasant.

Are you training for this Sufferfest business? I had to take off last week. I drink too much beer.


Joffrey Peters posted on

Yeah - I haven't really been training for it, because I was still holding out some hope of going climbing at Katahdin. I've done more ice climbing this winter than backpacking.

We had probably 8-9 miles of snow/slush that was actually troublesome. The bit of the loop along the Tuscarora was an absolute nightmare - iced over tracks that were too soft to hold, so every step slid, then broke through, then slid again. Tiresome business, particularly with shoes shedding their soles.