Massanutten Mountain Trail - The Ring

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Crisman Hollow TH

Where do we start? When you're on a loop, you always get to pick - so let's start off with a low point of this attempt. It's middle of July and I've missed my crew at Camp Roosevelt and I keep going not knowing where I am. I get 3 miles into the trail and get phone service and realize where I am. I've been out of water for the past 2 hours and need to backtrack the 3 miles before they leave Camp Roosevelt to get phone service and try to find me at another trailhead. I got them right as they were about to leave and fuel back up. I go back out only to realize that too much damage is done. That day ended after 37 miles - close to halfway through the route.

Starting at Night

Let's start this loop again, this time on a Saturday at 4:30 in the morning. I wake up from sleep in my truck and I'm antsy to get started. I learned some lessons and I'm taking all my nutrition for 24 hours with all the water stops mapped out - mile 8, mile 25, mile 35, and mile 50. The early hours are slow, but everything's going smoothly. I get to Camp Roosevelt in the same time as my first effort but feel fresh and ready to take on the day. I know that after Camp Roosevelt, even though I've been conserving water that the water rationing challenge is about to start. It's hot in VA and water is limited.

Good Views

After the climb up to Crisman Hollow I knew I was about to start the traverse on the opposite side of the ridge. This route back to the start was slow at first - it was just more technical in this section than I thought. But, in the end it wasn't a big deal. I took my time and made sure that I got through it without being injured. The trail was really easy to follow on this side of the valley. The main thought I had going on these sections was water. I had to get to Edinburg Gap without running out of water.

Q's View

Once I went down the road to get to the water spring at Edinburg Gap, I just sat on the side of the road enjoying the cold water coming out of the spring. I think I drank 3-4 bottles of water enjoying the end of the day. A local pulled up to fill up some jugs and I'm pretty sure I freaked him out when he asked what I was up to out there. Yeah a beat up runner that's put 50 miles on their legs is about to go back out in the night to run 20 more...that's normal right?

Looking Down into the Valley

The night section was pretty low key. After a phone call home, I put in my ear buds and got to work. I was pleasantly surprised going through Powell's Fort Camp before the last big climb up to Signal Knob that I found a water spring I didn't know about. I think I would have been fine, but it gave me such a good feeling that I had plenty of water to finish this thing.

Signal Knob at Night
Signal Knob was reflective for me. I got to the overlook looking down on the valley below and I can't remember what time it was...midnight or 1:00? But, all alone up there knowing I was close to the end of my journey. I cleaned out my shoes, ate some calories and was just filled with joy knowing I was close to the end. I remember looking at my watch and thinking sub 24 is in the books, but can we push the sub 23? That's when I decided I was going to channel my energy I put in to the Ouray 100 race and crush this downhill.

All done!

Once I saw the parking lot from the trail, I almost lost it. I was fist pumping and jumping in the air as I ran through the parking lot heading to my finish. It was around 3:15 in the morning and I was all alone in a dark parking lot. This run was hard - 70 miles unsupported, failed the first time out, and finished up the B.R.U.T.E.S. challenge. All those emotions coming through just filled me with such excitement. After cleaning up and trying to rest, it was time to drive back home.

Happy Trails Ryan

I'm ready for more adventures!

Posted by Ryan James on 2021-10-02


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