It was an optimistic group of 13 runners that finally jumped out of warm vehicles in the Signal Knob parking lot with starting temperatures of 4F and the promise of a impending snow storm swooping down upon them shortly.
Starting, there was a glimmer of a pink sunrise as we started over the Massanutten rocks
There was a frozen dead snake in the road. You do see some strange things at The Ring. Of course I took a picture of him/her.
It was amazing how fast the snow was falling. I stopped at the spring at Powells Fort to replenish my water supply. I took my gloves off and tossed them to the ground. In the two minutes or so that I stopped, the gloves were completely covered in snow that fast.
I caught up with Ed thru this section, and Diane and Larry were seen in the distance. Once we got to the top of the ridge on our way to Woodstock, we started to encounter the wind. This section of trail is usually very runnable, being almost flat. In fact, there was so much snow the rocks were not the issue here. But the slogging thru 4-6 inches of powder was.
It was a relief to get to the Woodstock Aid Station and see a full set up with a table, fire, and breakfast tacos!
I asked Q the time. 1045 am.
REALLY? My projected time, time on normal orange trail, at Woodstock was 920 am. Wow.
The snow was still falling rapidly. I got a breakfast taco, some Butterfinger bites, a little more food, thanked the volunteers and climbed the slick slope off the road back to Orange. Ed, Larry, and Diane were just in front of me.
I took a pull off my water tube and found it was frozen. Dang it. Taking off the pack, I noted the tube was frozen right where it connected with the bladder. This was a part that I could not get under my shirt. (I had most of the tube down my bra from the run start to keep it from freezing.) Now what? I couldn’t go without water for 8 miles.
I removed the water bladder from the hydration pack, and placed it inside my jacket, on my chest, and stuck the whole bladder tube down my bra to thaw out.
Now I couldn’t get the zipper to zip on my nylon wind jacket. Snow and ice had frozen into the teeth. I did the best I could and stomped on. There really was no choice.
With this stop, the trio of runners were now long gone in front of me. Now I was along, with my malfunctioning wardrobe and gear. I wondered if Paul (who was the last runner behind me) had stopped at Woodstock. I thought about returning to Woodstock, but realized the Aid Station crew would be long gone.
“There will be snow coming down. 5-8 inches of snow. Then it will turn to rain. It will be cold, very cold. There will be wind”.
Oh come on. I’m from Ohio. It was -15F on Friday. I’ve been running in snow, ice and wind for two months now. How could this be any different? Ha! Lesson learned, lesson learned! Don’t underestimate the mountain.
It was very very slow going. The Ring Runner footprints in front of me were sometimes missing, completely covered over with snow. I tried to hurry along in parts. I took a couple of headers into the snow and got covered in snow.
I ate all my calories. Another lesson learned. Carry more calories than you think you will need. Although I was out of calories, being so early in the run, I wasn’t depleted by any account, although I was hungry and more calories could have perked me up a bit.
I got to the top of the ridge, and the wind was very strong and fierce. I tried to just ignore it and focused on trying to fit my stride into the others footprints when I could. “Step in the footprints footprints footprints” was pretty much my mantra through here.
My back hurt. My upper back was just so stiff from fighting the wind and being hunched over a bit just looking at the trail footprints. I had Tylenol in my pack, but I didn’t want to stop and take the time to get it out. With the wind and the cold, it was not a good idea to stop, at all. Did I mention it was still snowing?
I pass the intersection of Lupton Trail and see the signage for Bear Trap Trail is 3 miles. I ponder where that intersection is. Hmm. I seem to remember that is almost to Edinburg Road. All right. About three miles to go.
I know this section of trail. I know when I hit the rhododenrons I will almost be on the climb to the top of Waonaze Peak. But meanwhile, I wander on, ignoring the wind and just following footsteps. Where the heck are the rhododendrons?
FINALLY I start the climb. It seems much longer than I remember. Even moving at my 30 minute mile, I stop briefly-like 30 seconds-to rest a few times. I’m panting into my face mask.
I get to the top. Awesome, it is literally is “all downhill” from here.
Then the wind hits. I remember the wind on this section from previous Reverse Rings, it has always been very strong. But this is freaking killer wind gusts. I take off stumbling down hill as fast as I can. It is such a good thing I am going downhill and not trying to climb, this could have been a very unsafe place to be.
Just about a mile Kimba, get through the ‘rock field’ and then it will be that nice runnable singletrack, all downhill, and you’ll be at Edinburg.
The “rock field” is pretty much filled in with snow, it’s a bit dangerous because these are big rocks here to stumble and trip over. I get through this section. Now it’s just the nice “runnable” switchback sections to run-which means slogging through.
I was never so happy to spot the road!!
I tell Q that I quit; he tells me he’s pulling me anyways. I’m at Edinburg at 230 pm-my planned time was 1120 am. Moreland Gap cut off is 4 pm-there is no way that is happening, 1.5 hours over Short Mountain in good weather would not be happening for me!
Here are a comparison photo of Reverse Ring 2015
and RevRing 2013:
Sometimes the Orange Trail wins!
Note: Second Year with no finishers. Cam Baker made it to Camp Roosevelt, where he finally bailed.