VMO: September Massanutten - Whiskey Fairy Edition (Updated Version)

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Let's return to the Massanutten Trail, all 70ish miles of it! I've never actually hiked the whole thing outside of spring and I've selected particular campsites for this trip that I've walked by but never slept in before.

For those keeping track, this is almost the exact weekend in September 2009 that we had our very first overnight backpacking trip (the first meetup per se was a planning session). This is for Veteran Members only and you know the drill. If you're a Veteran Member, you got this. If you aren't, wait for the right trip for you. On a whisky/whiskey note, I’ll be carrying some lovely Lagavulin scotch single malt whisky and Whistlepig rye whiskey – to share, of course.

The Plan:

Thursday, September 19 – Evan and Sophie meet at the Vienna North Metro North Kiss and Ride to carpool in Evan’s car (orange Jeep Renegade, tough to miss) and proceed directly to the Signal Knob Parking lot, to meet up with Mark with the goal to start hiking at 9:00 a.m. Weather/views permitting, one of the reasons I wanted to do the trip this way was to experience and enjoy the eastern ridge in daylight. The plan is to hike past Veach Gap, tanking up significantly on this reliable water source for the night (AND much of the next morning) and proceed down the trail and right after the Milford Gap Trail intersection (about 0.5 mile) to this wonderful dry site (http://www.dermandar.com/p/eRpFNZ) that I’ve always strolled through but never had the pleasure to stay in. Expected mileage for the day is 15 miles, and sunset is at 7:00 p.m. so we should have enough light to properly enjoy it.

Friday, September 20 – The next morning, we’ll aim to be up at 6:00 a.m. and moving by 7:00 a.m., with a mid-morning stop at Kennedy Peak and then downward through Camp Roosevelt to meet up with some water shortly thereafter, which should be available even during dry season. From there, we hike all the way through the end of the eastern ridge and make use of the lovely campsite at the base of Waterfall Mountain – again, one that I often traipse through but have never overnight-ed at. Libations to follow, and happy to meet up with anyone who might desire meeting us out here Friday night to do the western ridge and get shuttled back to their car on Sunday afternoon. Expected mileage around 17 miles. Lots of reliable water at camp for the night/morning.

Saturday, September 21 – Guess what? Waterfall Mountain morning, baby. All weighed down by lots of water. Then we hike and enjoy the morning along the western ridge all the way to Edinburg Gap (let’s not count on water at the sometimes reliable spring on the way in the middle, just in case), where we can either stroll down the road to hit the very reliable side of the road spring (and add a mile to our trip), or get information in advance and hit the usually reliable spring up the mountain () as we make our way to Waonaze Peak. From here we hike over to the first of the expected trail intersections (Bar None Trail) to hit a small fire ring and make a little home on the ridge for the evening at that dry site spot. Expected mileage for the day at 21 miles.

Sunday, September 22 – Up and at the day at 6:00 a.m. again, walking in the dawn light by 7:00 a.m. In the past we’ve raced along this part (or been too tired to care about it as we were ending the day), to conclude the trip. I’d like to take this as a full, normal day to enjoy it a bit more. Even with a later end that afternoon, we’re so close to DC that getting back into town won’t be a Pennsylvania-sized bit of driving. Expected mileage around 18 miles for the day.

Necessary Map: PATC, Map g http://www.patc.net/ItemDetail?iProductCode=PA230&Category=AH