Jimmy and I had been itching for a trip to co-lead. We scratched our heads and decided to hike in the Seneca Creek Wilderness Area. Once we started looking at the trails, we figured the only way to do a high mileage trip would be to hike in circles. And that is exactly what we ended up doing.
We - Kevin, Bryan, Tony, Jessie, Mimi, Jimmy and me - started from Vienna slightly behind schedule. The weather looked great. After an early stop at Walmart (and Roy Rodgers) and another quick stop to get some beer (some people wanted to take advantage of being in WV where passengers can drink beer in a car), we made it to Spruce Knob at 10 PM. Here we met Miles who had just finished taking a great photo of the beautiful moonlit sky. We left his car behind and after a short drive, pulled into Johnny Meadows campground. Some people tried capturing the lovely sky here, some had beer. Everybody was in their sleeping bags by midnight.
The next morning we woke up to see our tents fully wet amidst the heaviest condensation ever. Soon enough we drove to the Big Run trailhead where we parked Kevin's and Jimmy's car. Feeling fresh, we marched on to the Big Run trail. It was a good start. The vegetation was lush green, the trail was muddy and full of tall grass in a lot of places. After a steep patch, we landed on Allegheny Mtn. trail. We continued on this mostly flat trail for about 2 miles and then turned counter-clockwise towards Tom Lick Run trail (or Licking Tom as somebody liked to call it). The next section went on smoothly and soon we were approaching Allegheny Mtn. trail again when I saw a couple of deers. Before I could capture them, they saw me and ran away. Oh well. We took a long break right here :- we had an early lunch and spread our wet gear directly under the sun to dry. As we were talking, Bryan recounted how a pony actually licked his leg and almost 'felt him up' on his trip to Grayson Highlands. Someone suggested the trail name 'Ponyboy' which Bryan denied instantly. Oh and guess who suggested it? Of course, our own Horse-lover, Mr. Miles :). After having some more laughs, we started our clockwise loop which I guessed to be at 3.5-4 miles. I was proved wrong - It turned out to be a good 6-mile loop. Somewhere on this section, the trail opened up and we stopped to take photos of the sky with the beautiful landscape. I think Kevin was successful in photobombing one of Mimi's photos here. Completing this loop, we took a quick snack break at our lunch-spot. We were discussing the trip to Dolly Sods on the coming weekend when Miles recommended Jimmy to wear "Short shorts" and "Long gaiters" for the classic backpacker look. Me and Mimi rolled into laughter. Back on the trail, we started heading towards the waterfall which everyone was anxious to see. Jimmy was leading the way here and encountered a bear. I was told to be crazy upon asking Jimmy eagerly if he took any pics of the bear. The flat trail turned into a steep descent and shortly we reached the waterfall. It was beautiful and off came the cameras. Jessie and Kevin posed in front of the waterfall. Me and Bryan went for a quick dip and ended up coming out soon as the water was quite cold. The plan was to camp anywhere from here to Judy Springs. After passing a number of occupied campsites, we came across a large available campsite. And that was all we needed. This marked the end of a good 20 mile day. Jimmy got a fire going and we soon we all got talking. Some people sat on very admirably built thrones here. Miles revealed the next product in line after Tactical loincloth, the thigh-high Tactical Kimono. Slowly the sun went down and we were all asleep by 9:30 PM.
Everybody received a personalized wake-up call at 6 the next morning. I am afraid that I terrified Tony with my wake-up call. We were on the trail promptly at 7 and soon reached Judy Springs. Here we filled up water and began our climb towards Lumberjack trail. The dense forest transformed into open meadows and we were treated with great views of the sun shining atop the meadows in front of us. After a good climb, we turned North going downhill. The trail now became very dense and grassy in some places. We turned our direction by 180 degrees once we reached the beginning of Lumberjack trail and were now heading south in the direction of Spruce Knob. Somewhere along the way, Tony proposed a trail name for Bryan - Wolverine - because of his similar beard. I think everyone liked it. We reached the last section of the trip - Huckleberry trail. This section was mostly open and was rocky in some places. We were trying to beat the forecasted rains, but alas, it started pouring. And in a very short time, it was over too. This last section felt like going on for a long time. Finally, we reached the parking lot. Mimi and Miles did a dance here for the cameras. And like true DCULers, we carried our packs to Spruce Knob. It was very foggy when we reached there, but we were lucky to see the fog go away slowly. After a lot of pics were taken, Miles, Jimmy and Kevin headed out to reverse the shuttle. It was not long before they were back and everybody was on the road heading home. I made a great discovery in Miles's car - Its album time by Todd Terje. Kevin, Bryan and Tony decided to skip the after-hike meal to ensure Bryan caught his train. Me, Miles, Jimmy, Mimi and Jessie stopped at Blues Smokes Pit for a drink and a bite. After our meal, we bid farewell to Miles and had an easy journey back to Vienna.
All in all, I must say the trip went really well. Thanks everyone for making it to this trip and turning it into a fun-filled hike. Thanks also for following this lunatic route I proposed and not asking me why we were going in circles :). A special thanks goes to Jimmy for helping me plan this trip and making sure I didn't miss anything. I look forward to see you all on the trail in the future!
Thanks Karan and Jimmy! I always love reading the trip reports.
Nice write up Karan!
To be more specific on my bear encounter, I stopped in the middle of the trail to bend down and re tie my shoe lace. When I looked back up, I noticed that there was a fairly large bear (my guess is about 300-400lbs) 50 feet directly in front of me grazing on something. I guess it would have been cool if my intuition was to feel calm and snap some photos, but this wasn't the case. It was more like, mumbling to myself, "holy...crap" and then banging my treking poles togethor while yelling. The bear stopped to stare me down for 5 seconds, but lucky for me, it quickly then ran off. Phew...
Sounds like a fun trip! I might have to make my way out there this summer to splash in the waterfalls when it's too hot to think of doing any real walking. I'm glad you guys put together these madman loops, so I won't look so crazy when I do a similar criss-cross of loops and hoops.