All 2015 Reports

DC UL: Strickler and Duncan Knobs 2015

29-30 Aug 2015

- Dave MacLuskie

And then there were six. (I was tempted to do this in poem form ala Agatha Christie's novel but felt it was a bit too grim for such a fine weekend.)

Despite a rocky start (Massanutten joke!) and some dwindling of the ranks the weekend was a lot of fun. A Friday morning drop bumped our 10 person group down to nine off the bat. Aura got a flat tire and had to bow out before even getting started. Then there were eight.

We did a pre-hike weigh-in for the curious. Packs weighed in between 16 and 33 pounds with most in the mid 20's. Not bad for a trip with a large number of applicants.

George and Alli extracted themselves with honor and grace several miles in after an old back injury flared up. Then there were six.

The remaining crew regrouped at Scothorn Gap and then powered up to the Strickler Knob intersection. We redirected a pair of day hikers to the correct path and blazed on out to the views. There was much cheering when we dropped our packs before the final few yards. (Van was clever enough to do this early.) The views didn't disappoint. We hung out a bit and took some photos. I anticipate several new profile photos.

Stickler Knob group pose

Back on the Massanutten trail we enjoyed the downhill to the Gap Creek Trail and tanked up on water at the ridiculously low Little Passage Creek. It took some ingenuity to coax water out of the shallow pools. Some shiny new Sawyer Mini's (water filters) saw their first action in the field. It was very exciting. Some were shocked to discover how much water they had consumed in such a short distance: climbing and heat can really take it out of you! With bottles full and packs heavy we ascended the blue blaze trail, trickled into camp and setup our shelters.

Amanda learned how to do a PCT hang (Pacific Coast Trail Hang) - my preferred method for hanging my bear bag. After a dozen or so near-misses on a nice high branch she elected a different tree with a slightly lower branch and nailed it after a couple attempts. The resulting "bear pinata" lasted the night without incident.

With camp setup we ascended Duncan Knob to enjoy the views before sunset. Some ominous dark clouds and strong winds kicked up and had me worried about an evening t-storm but my fears were without merit. Many photos were taken, including some rather surrealistic panorama creations by Jakub. I was too hungry to wait for the sun to set so we descended and headed back to camp collecting firewood on the way.

Group shot atop Duncan Knob

Descending the rock scramble

During dinner there was some discussion about getting up early to catch the sunrise from the Knob but even Amy "never-sleeps-past-6am" was still in her hammock at 7am giving me the stink eye at wake-up call. Julio was the only one up early so he could choke down his Mountain House scrambled eggs. We were on the trail at 8:30 heading back to the cars at a pretty decent DC UL pace.

My tarp setup at sunrise

After a quick rinse and clothing change we headed into Luray to have a breakfast/lunch at Uncle Bucks. After the food arrived there was some severe meal envy and several people flagged down the waitress to add "what she's having" to their order. Van ordered an assortment of beef stews, seafood salad, and orange soda that I'm sure left the kitchen wondering. Our waitress probably thought we were crazy. We joked that our post-hike meal probably shouldn't last longer than the hike that morning.

I really enjoyed the weekend. Thanks for joining me everyone. I look forward to seeing you out in the woods again.

dave.macluskie AT