Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Buckhollow, Mary's Rock, and the past

A couple of weekends ago I went for a run around the Buckhollow loop with the addition of adding Mary's Rock with my friend, Matt. The day itself was unseasonably warm as within a mile up the first climb both of us decided it was warm enough to go shirtless. It was the first time in 2013 and it was still February! The loop itself is pretty much 3 miles up and then 3 miles down, and add in an extra mile to each direction if you do Mary's Rock as well. For the first loop we opted to go all the way up. As we started the trail up to the top, I realized that I hadn't been on that trail since middle school.

For middle school and high school, I wasn't very athletic, and unless it involved being on a bike or playing baseball, I wasn't too keen on being active in general. During elementary and middle school, my parents would drag us out to Mary's Rock listening to John Denver or Bob Seger the entire way. The Bob Seger will haunt me forever (even though, somehow the John Denver has grown on me a little bit, but don't tell my parents). I didn't appreciate the woods, and hiking up hill for a mile was work, and my legs always hurt. I hated the way up.

But my parents did know how to entice their four kids to climb a mountain - food. My dad would pack up a big backpack with a Coleman stove, the gas for it, eggs, bacon, rolls, condiments, apple juice and orange juice mixed together (if you haven't tried it, you must), water, plates, napkins, wet wipes and utensils. He would lug all of this up there and then cook for us on the overlook. It was great eating, but inevitably the eggs would burn, the bacon may or may not be on fire right before you eat it, and of course someone would end up in tears because they were sticky from the juice. But being up there and scrambling around the rocks and then eating like that was definitely worth the struggle to get up there. The way down was great, we'd all pretend we were running with deer or escaping the bad guys or something along those lines. Running down felt effortless, jumping from rock to root, back to rock, was a feeling I don't often forget. Of course we couldn't run the whole way down because someone would need a piggy back ride.

While Matt and I were out there, I was able to remember every step of that mile. How, soon after the initial steep part leaving the parking lot it smooths out for a few yards. And how you pass an old chimney and then it gets technical. Also, after you reach the saddle section, you make a right on the AT and then a left soon after that and then it gets really rocky. It was only a mile, though, it felt a lot longer when we used to do it. It was just as rocky as I remember and the top was just as awe-inspiring.

Running up, the cloud cover was thick. I was worried we wouldn't be able to see anything at the top. Sure enough, we walked across the 10 ft of sandy flat portion at the top and continued onto the uneven rocks looking at nothing. I couldn't have been more disappointed. It had been years since I'd been up there and I wanted it to look the same and all it looked like was a sea of white/gray emptiness. I had brought my camera but didn't even bother to take it out. I explained to Matt what we were supposed to be seeing: The Massanuttens, Luray, Rt 211 and Skyline Drive. I told him that the cars on it are supposed to look like tiny Lego vehicles. Part of me wondered how much of what I remembered was actually part of it, and maybe the sights weren't as grand as I remembered.    

 Matt just as the clouds were parting

 Rt 211, there is a car in the picture

Some random dude behind me losing his balance...

Just when we were going to start going back down to complete the loop, I saw a faint mountain in the distance. The clouds were dissipating right in front of us! Within a minute we could see the tops of the mountains next to us and a few across. Before too long we could see down the cliffs. Everything was just as I remembered.

Last week was MMT training run #3, the last 40 miles of the course. It was surprisingly cold and snowy, even though the couple days before it had been pretty warm. The run itself was largely uneventful, I came, I ran and I left. The run itself just sort of seemed like a blur. I didn't think much, which could be a good thing or a bad thing. I didn't feel very invested in it, I just wanted to see that part of the course again without markings. Overall though, it was a good day to run in the mountains.

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