Stokesville 24 Hour Rogaine – 2017 Edition

This was my second consecutive year doing the Stokesville Rogaine – a 24 hour navigation/adventure race in the mountains near the Virginia & West Virginia border. You can read about last year’s race with my friend Phil HERE.

This year I again signed up for the 24 hour option, and Bruce joined in to race the 6 hour option.

Our campsite for the weekend

We camped out overnight on Friday, then got up early on Saturday morning to collect our maps at 0700. The window for starting was 0800-1000, after which I’d have 24 hours to collect as many points as possible. We spent awhile mapping out our route, then headed off at 0847.

Getting ready to start

The weather was a little cool (high 30’s at night, high 50’s during the day) and there was some light rain off and on, but overall much more favorable conditions than Phil and I deal with last year. There had, however, been heavy rain a couple nights before, so many of the local streams and rivers were flooded – necessitating a few last minute adjustments on the course. A few controls were re-located, and one of the larger rivers that Phil and I had waded across last year was not only passable via several bridges.

Course map, for those who want to follow along

Bruce and I stayed together for the first 3 hours or so, grabbing #31 and #44 on our way out of the campground. From there we worked our way along a steep hillside adjacent to one of the flooded rivers, until we found #51 (one of the controls that had to be repositioned to higher ground after the flooding).

Looking back southeast in the direction of #51

On our way to #62, Bruce and I briefly got separated when he doubled back to grab something he’d dropped, but we met back up around #62. The terrain was very steep in some areas, so it was slow going.

One of the cliffs alongside the river

Our pace improved over the next few hours; we climbed the ridge to our west and met up with a trail, which we followed uneventfully to #77, #72, and eventually to #95 atop Lookout Mountain.

Bruce collecting #77

We parted ways on Lookout Mountain. I went on to collect #45 before heading toward the western half of the map, while Bruce finished his 6 hour loop hitting #45 followed by a handful of other controls closer to the campground (I was saving these for the following morning).

Control #95 atop Lookout Mountain

After #45, I took my first real foray into the woods, collecting #65 and #76 by side-sloping more than a mile of steep, trail-less terrain. I was a little out of practice having not done a rogaine in nearly a year, but was able to manage by carefully counting each of the reentrants and spurs as I moved west, and guessing as best I could at the elevation. No issues with these two. I met back up with another dirt access road, which I then followed back to the main road and one of the bridge crossings.

This is where I made probably the dumbest error of the day. I’d decided to forego several of the controls between Trimble Mountain and North River Gorge in order to save time, so I picked up #43 and then continued northwest up the road. In hindsight, it would have only taken an extra 15-20 minutes and minimal effort to double back for the higher value #84, which was only ~600 meters further to the east. Instead I went for #54 (which had apparently been lost/stolen…so I never found it, but got credit regardless).

From here my thought was to grab #42, #64, #81, and #71 before hiking back down the main road to Stokesville campground for dinner. I figured I would then head back out for another loop after dark, picking off some of the easy & high-point value controls near trails and roads during the night hours to minimize my time floundering around in the woods at night.

I ended up making better time than expected, so by the time I reached #71, I decided, “why not add an extra kilometer to get #82, too?” Then things kind of snowballed from there. As you can tell from the contour lines, the terrain is relatively more flat on the western half of the map, and there also happened to be fewer briars and mountain laurel patches to contend with. I could practically jog through the woods. The “just one more” routine ended up taking me from #82, up a long spur to #47, across a broad ridgeline to #37, through some thicker brush to #91, down the road to #83, then down a painfully long creek bed to get #61 and #96 on my way back to the main road.

View from a field just south of #83

I then followed the road for another 5 miles or so back to the campground, taking brief detours to grab #56 and #98 along the way. I had to flip on the headlamp not long after leaving #98, but made it back to the campground around 2120. Although I could have easily netted more points by staying out for one large loop rather than doubling all the way back to the campground, I figured it was worth it for the chili, beer, warm campfire and pork sandwiches.

Around 2230 I headed back out for a smaller loop, climbing up the east side of Grindstone Mountain and hitting controls #87, #93, and #86. I then backtracked a little ways down the road and followed a trail up to the spur just northeast of #88, which I then found uneventfully. And then, why not, I made another small detour to pick up #34 on the way back to the campground for a second time. It was around 0300, while walking down the road, that I spotted a bobcat watching me from a few meters into the woods. So that was pretty cool. Didn’t see much else in the way of wildlife.

I made it back to the campground sometime around 0400, then took a nap from 0430 until 0600. At this point I only had another 4 controls (plus 1 bonus control) within easy walking range, so I figured I’d collect them after the sun came up.

I was pretty sore at this point, having already covered roughly 40 miles, but managed to get my legs working again and headed up a nearby stream to controls #41 and #36 – which happened to have instructions posted for finding the bonus control not marked on the map.

Instructions for bonus control #74

I measured out the distance and direction on my map, marked the spot, then headed first to #52 before then circling around to find #74 without any trouble. Finally, I ended the day by following a faint trail down another ridgeline to #63 and then returning to the finish area.

I ended up finishing #8 out of 18 in the 24 hour category.

My route, outlined in purple

Approximate total distance was 43 miles, with ~8,000′ elevation gain.

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Published in: on May 9, 2017 at 9:05 pm  Comments (1)  

Turk Mountain and Little Calf Mountain

Allison and I were both a little worn out after carrying the boys 10 miles on day 1 of the trip, so we decided on a more relaxed pace for days 2 and 3.

On the second day, we spent the morning at the hotel pool (Ezra wasn’t a fan; Micah had a great time), then let the boys take a nap before driving into Shenandoah for a short afternoon hike to Turk Mountain (2.4 miles round trip, 661 feet elevation gain).

Micah and I atop Turk Mountain

Micah wanted to hike most of the way himself, but I did have to carry him up a few of the steep sections. He had a great time scrambling on the rocks at the top. Ezra seemed to enjoy the hike, too.

On the third day, we checked out of the hotel in the morning, hit the grocery store to stock up on camping food/supplies for the weekend, grabbed lunch at Cracker Barrel, then drove back into the park for one more short hike. This time Micah climbed all the way to the top of Little Calf Mountain without any assistance (3.7 miles round trip and 488 feet elevation gain, including a few short side-tracks along the way). I offered to carry him a few times, but got a firm “NO!” in response.

Micah climbing up Little Calf Mountain

Standing at the summit

Water break

So I guess this was technically Micah’s first mountain climb.

After finishing, we drove ~45 minutes to Stokesville, Virginia and met up with Allison’s parents for the camping/rogaine weekend.

Published in: on May 9, 2017 at 2:20 pm  Comments (1)  

Blackrock and Trayfoot Mountain Loop

By using a combination of leftover paternity days and front-loading my monthly ER schedule, I was able to take all of last week off work. We decided to head down to Virginia for a few days of hiking with the boys in Shenandoah National Park, leading up to my 24 hour Stokesville Rogaine on May 6-7.

After driving down on Tuesday, Allison and I had three full days with just the boys, after which we planned to meet Allison’s parents for a weekend of camping in Stokesville. For our first day of hiking, we took Micah and Ezra on a fairly ambitious loop of Blackrock and Trayfoot Mountain.

GPS route

According to my GPS watch, we covered 9.7 miles and 2273 feet of elevation gain over 4.5 hours (not including a couple stops along the way for Ezra to nurse).

Hiking to Blackrock

Micah walked alongside us for a few short stretches, but for most of the day the boys rode along in their carriers – Micah on my back and Ezra on Allison’s front.

Allison and Ezra atop Blackrock

The loop first took us atop Blackrock, a scenic sub-peak of Trayfoot, then continued on to the top of Trayfoot Mountain. Micah cheered us on to “keep hiking up to the peak!”

Micah and I near Trayfoot’s summit

The boys both took naps along the way.

Ezra taking a nap…

…and Micah taking a nap

We made it back to the car late-afternoon, then had a nice dinner at a local burger place in Charlottesville.

Published in: on May 9, 2017 at 2:08 pm  Comments (1)