Michael and I had been tossing around the idea of revisiting Otter Creek for a few weeks. While it is a bit of a drive, it really is a wonderful spot, especially if you time it so you can enjoy the swimming holes in Otter Creek. We finally decided to stop talking about it, and to finally post it.
The loop itself is about 15 miles, give or take. The campsite we had our eye on is very close to one of the deepest swimming holes, but its location calls for an uneven split – 10/11 miles and 4 miles. The weather, however, was looking perfect for swimming hole fun on Saturday: low 80s and a low chance of rain. We opted for the shorter half on Saturday to give people time to enjoy some swimming and explore nearby trails. The plan was set!
In a stroke of excellent timing, the Baltimore contingent (Ali, Carrie, Keith, and Charlie) wound up right behind the D.C. group (me, Michael, Brian, Glenn, Molly, and Eron) as we approached the trailhead. We quickly started up the Mylius Trail where Molly spotted some wild ramps. The trail brings you up and over the ridge, and then you descend to Otter Creek. The water was flowing nicely in Otter Creek, but was low enough that careful hikers could rockhop their way across. (Of course, we did have the “just wade through it” group.) We made it to the campsite in good time, arriving around 2 p.m. – quite early by DC UL standards! People quickly got down to business: setting up tents, eating lunch, and enjoying a quick break. Brian lightened his pack rather quickly by setting down 12 beers into the creek to cool down. (Yay, Brian!) Then it was time to swim! Most of the crew had time for a quick dip before a downpour (hey, that wasn’t in the forecast!) cut short the swimming time. Michael, Brian, Keith, Glenn, and I decided to explore the Moore’s Run Trail, while Molly and Eron headed back to the swimming hole. Moore’s Run is a gentle climb to the top of the ridge. Glenn and I opted to turn back at the intersection, while Michael, Brian, and Keith decided to do the full 11 mile loop. On our way down, we ran into Carrie, Ali, and Charlie who decided to explore the trail as well.
Upon arriving back at camp, we got down to the serious matter of wood collecting. Glenn found a treasure trove of wood down by the creek. An assembly line formed: Glenn would toss the wood to Eron, Eron would toss the close to the trail, and Molly and I would drag it back to camp. Let’s just say that our efforts would have made Hua proud. As we were winding down, Keith, Brian, and Michael arrived back at camp after surviving an epic adventure along the bogs of Moore’s Run. (I’ll let them share their story. Let’s just say there were mudlines along pants.)
Fire. Cold beer. Good food. We all trickled off to bed just as a second downpour started. (So much for Accuweather?)
The next morning was an extra early one for Michael, who had to get back to DC in time for an afternoon flight for work. He was on the trail by 6 a.m. The rest of us embarked on our 11 mile jaunt out of Otter Creek. The first few miles are along the Creek, but a series of blowdowns have rerouted the trail up higher. We bobbed along the trail – sometimes along some serious underbrush – and arrived at our last crossing of Otter Creek. Now it was time to climb up the Green Mountain Trail! The humidity certainly didn’t add to the experience, but this was our one serious climb of the trip. Once the top is gained, the trail levels out. The bushwhacking, however, continued. I think we were all getting tired of rhododendron in the face.
I also promised everyone that we’d have an obvious turn from Green Mountain onto Shaver’s Mountain trail, having remembered a “trail abandoned” sign and gate at that intersection. Whether the trail was rerouted or the sign removed, we had no indication that we had actually changed trails. After consulting with the map, we knew we were headed in the right direction. Still, I’m sure many wondered if they inadvertently signed up for a 20 mile day. We arrived at the intersection with the Mylius Trail and began the happy descent down to the cars. The Baltimore crew opted to skip the Alpine Inn and get started on the long drive back, while my car enjoyed various types of light beer (what they had) and hearty food.
All in all, it was a good weekend to be out. Otter Creek is a beautiful place to explore. Thanks to everyone who joined us. Congratulations to Molly and Eron on their first DC UL trip!
One quick comment... If you were in Jen's car for the drive home (Thanks for driving Jen!), this will strike you as an odd piece of timing.
You better order your 13 tapes ASAP...