Big Run Basin is the largest watershed in Shenandoah National Park. Let's spend the weekend walking the rim of the basin and taking in beautiful views!
Winter 1 Rating: With average highs 40–57F and average lows 25–38F, I'm giving this trip a Winter 1 (http://www.meetup.com/DC-UL-Backpacking/pages/Winter_Rankings/) rating. Those new to the group, please review our FAQ (http://www.meetup.com/DC-UL-Backpacking/pages/Frequently_Asked_Questions/), Trip Rating/Member Rank System (http://www.meetup.com/DC-UL-Backpacking/pages/How_the_heck_do_these_trip_ratings_and_ranks_work/), and Winter Trip Ratings (http://www.meetup.com/DC-UL-Backpacking/pages/Winter_Rankings/). If you're an Applicant and/or haven't hiked in cold weather with us before, you must send me your gear list before I'll confirm you for the trip.
Overview Map (http://www.hillmap.com/m/ag1zfmhpbGxtYXAtaGRychULEghTYXZlZE1hcBiAgICApoSICgw)
Day 1 (13 miles): We'll meet at Vienna Metro at 8am, then make the 3-hour drive to the Loft Mtn Wayside, the start/end of our loop. The AT will take us south to the beginning of the Rockytop Trail. We'll spend the rest of the day descending the ridge until it joins Big Run, where we'll set up camp for the night and enjoy food, drinks, good company, and a cozy night's sleep.
Day 2 (7 miles): Rise and shine! Lucky us — Daylight Savings Time starts today, so the sun will rise at 7:30am. Let's try to be up to greet it before we break camp and begin ascending the Brown Mtn–Rocky Mtn ridgeline. After a few miles and a short road walk, we'll rejoin the AT and take it south to our cars, completing the loop.
Post-Hike: We'll have the traditional post-trip foodfest. The Green Leaf Grill in Waynesboro (http://www.thegreenleafgrill.com/menu/) looks good, but I'm open to suggestions from anyone more familiar with the area.
The group size is firmly capped at 10 (Shenandoah NP regulations). But don't be afraid to hop on the waitlist — spots usually open up as the trip draws nigh.
You've gotta bring a map. Period. Shenandoah NP Trails Illustrated (http://www.amazon.com/Shenandoah-National-Park-Geographic-Illustrated/dp/1566953650/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391739664&sr=1-1&keywords=National+Geographic+Trails+Illustrated+Shenandoah+National+Park) works well for the whole park and at 1:75,000 is fine for on-trail hikes. PATC Map 11 (https://www.patc.net/PublicView/Store/BrowseCategories/Core/Orders/product.aspx?catid=5&prodid=10) is slightly more detailed (1:63,360) and covers a smaller area; your money supports a local group. USGS quads printed at home are OK, but be wary of man-made details like roads and trails, which are often out of date.
Skyline Drive is often closed due to weather. If this happens, we'll engage Plan B (http://yodaismybackpack.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/engage.gif): start at the park boundary (Browns Gap Rd), connect to Rockytop via Austin Mtn Trail, and hike up Big Run on Day 2. The mileage and ascent/descent would be very similar. I'll keep everyone updated and will confirm which option we'll be taking by Friday afternoon.