This is the third year I have travelled down to WV and ran with the club at North Fork Mountain. North Fork Mountain is in the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area. Seneca Rocks is the famous hunk o’ rock in the picture:
The rock is composed of fine grains of sand that were laid down approximately 440 million years ago, in an extensive sheet at the edge of ancient ocean. Years of geologic activity followed, as the ocean was slowly destroyed and the underlying rock uplifted and folded. Millions of years of erosion stripped away the overlaying rock and left remnants of the arching folds in formations such as Seneca Rocks.
I got to the campground early, and set up camp, changed clothes, and ran over to Seneca Rocks. There is a trail, pretty technical, that leads up to the top. I ran part of it-well, maybe more of the flats on the switchbacks. There is a spectacular view from the top.
Yes, I was up at the very pointy top of the rock!
The club members were all pulling in as I returned to camp. It was good to see everyone, although many of us had run at Big Bear Lake two weekends ago, so we had just been together!
The next morning, the caravan got off to a prompt start. We start at one end of the trail, and run the entire length. Instead of climbing up to the trail head, it’s a nice civilized drive to the start:
After a bunch of pics are snapped, it’s time to go! We take off down the trail. I’m in the lead of the pack for about three minutes, then just about everyone passes me. I’m okay with that. This first half of the trail was my first trail run in WV-I just was not used to the rocks!
It took about a 1/2 hour or so for my muscles to wake up. My shins were really tight, and then the pain shifted down into my ankles-no doubt to the rocks that we just do not have here in Ohio.
Tony and Juli ran by as I was taking a bathroom break off the trail, and I caught back up with them and had a short chat before I got ahead of them down the trail.
Before long, I came upon the trail intersection where I had my breakdown two years earlier, and I smiled fondly, remembering my hissy fit. Just past this intersection is the hang gliding platform, that’s what the wood is in this picture:
And no, I did not clamber up on the platform-no way!
I hit the half-way point (about 12+ miles) in three hours. This is the only place on the trail where there is access, via a scary old fire road. The WVTR Van was there, with snacks and plenty of water. I drank a bunch of water, refilled my two bottles, and started on the long descent down the fire road to the trail. We’ve said it’s a mile, but it must be longer than that-it’s a long downhill! I’m already feeling my quads protesting the downhill, so I know they will be screaming later (you descend about 2000 feet at the end of the trail).
Now I am on the 2nd part, that I ran last year with Sioban. She didn’t come this year, which was too bad, because we had fun out on the trail. You get a bunch of various footing, views, and flora on this part. There were also two big uphills that I didn’t remember from last year!
I kept waiting for the big rocky section. I thought I was farther along than I was. Given that it was now the early afternoon, I went through my water too quickly. I was out of water for at least 1.5 hours. Next year I will make sure to have three bottles with me. Despite being thirsty, I was having a wonderful time. The weather was PERFECT! Low humidity, a little breeze, lots of sun, not that hot! Not like it usually is!
I did have to stop and take some pics of the scenic views along the way.
I finally hit the rocky section that signifies the beginning of the end. At this point, Amy and Mike, from VHTC, come bounding by. They have completed the 24 miles, ran up the dirt road, took a side trail, and are now running the section again! I thought I was a good downhill runner, until they went by! By the time I looked up from my feet, they were gone!
The long downhill seemed like it would never end. I just wanted it to be over with, not because it was a bad day, or run, but I really wanted a drink of water!! I finally get to the bottom and get my own jug of water to drink!