Tuesday, September 29, 2009

SIgnal Knob Loop

Last Sunday I ran a 15 mile loop in the Massanutten Mountains. I had run some of these trails before, but some of it was new or in a new direction. This loop turned out to be around 15 miles. I started at Elizabeth Furnace and ran up the Tuscarora Trail to Meneka Peak. Then I headed over to the Massanutten Trail on the connector trail. It was pretty foggy so the view were non-impressive, but this trail was brutally rocky. Maybe the rockiest trail I have experienced in this region (which is saying a LOT for Massanutten). After I hit Signal Knob I ran down the Massanutten Trail to Mud Hole Gap. I took this trail back to the car. The first 5 miles of this run took the same amount of time as the last 10. This was due to a combination of elevation change, but more because of the rocky terrain.

Signal Knob Fog from Justus Stull on Vimeo.

The highlight of the trip was watching the fog roll over the mountain and the 2 bear sightings. The first sighting took place near Signal Knob. I had just talked to some hikers and was only a minute down the trail when I heard something and looked off the trail. No more than 30 feet off the trail was a black bear 15 feet up a tree. We made eye contact and he charged down the tree. At this point I started to yell, hoping to scare it into running away. Luckily when it bottomed out of the tree it headed down the mountain away from me, but in the general direction I was heading. The second sighting occurred half way down Mud Hole Gap. A cub crossed the trail 20 feet in front of me. He got 30 or 40 feet off the trail and stopped to have a look at me. I quickly assessed the situation to make sure he did not have a sibling or his mother with him and went for my camera. By the time I got it out he was gone. Not more than 2 minutes later I ran across a couple with 2 dogs. I told them to watch out for him and was on my way.

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