This was a six day, five night backpacking trip from May 12-17, 2017 in the southern district wilderness area of Shenandoah National Park. I started out at the Furnace Mtn Trailhead and parked just outside the park boundary on the Madison Run fire road. Hope you enjoy it and get some ideas if you’re planning to hike any of these trails. I highly recommend it!
and so my journey begins as it is 58 degrees it is 11:15 a.m. it is Thursday May 11th 2017 and I am finally underway on the road to Frankfurt Kentucky which is the first stop on this journey I am driving to Kentucky to take the written portion of my Kentucky licensing exam Friday morning and after I finished the exam I'll be hitting the road and driving over to just outside a little town called grottoes Virginia just on the fringe of Shenandoah National Park and that will start my six success either six or six and a half day hike through the southern district wilderness area of Shannon dello been looking forward to this for quite a while then I want to get back out of the park and hopefully find my car attacked where I'm going to leave it on the side of a fire road because I enter the park I will be hopping in the car and driving to Charlotte West Virginia and staying overnight the hotel there getting cleaned up in order to take my oral exam or licensure in West Virginia on Friday the 19th so that's the whole journey and then obviously driving home going to me alrighty drives and our rainy start to die whoo this is something else man there's some fun drive it's probably going to make person really fun hiking well I made it 6:30 p.m. on I guess it's still Friday 12 and I am on the fire road here just off the main drag here and I'm just gonna go walk up a little ways and look at the trailhead come out burn his trail point one miles all right so haven't had to go far but here we are at the furnace mountain trailhead and heading in interestingly there was no sign-in book at the trailhead I got water and now I'm starting to climbs an elevation here heading up to the intersection with the actual short trail that goes up the furnace mountain where I'm hoping the camp tonight so it's raining but not too bad the trees are giving me pretty good cover pretty soon the trail opens up pretty wide up here it's some very cool flowers up here and if it wasn't socked in with clouds I'm guessing I'd be getting some views very shortly but right now it's just going to be gray and wet so this is kind of cool not yet up at the trail Junction but a nice opening here and got one of these big rock fields here the trail so far is basically a straight uphill climb with some open spots like this where you get nice Vista Rainey though it may be and then I continue to climb she be getting pretty close to the trail Junction that will head up to the summit of Furness mountain but so far soggy wet very thankful to see this trail marker so now we summit and camping what so that's where I'm going that's where I came from and that's what awaits in tomorrow okay some day one parked the car here on the fire road and then hiked up this segment of furnace mountain trail and then this little piece of trail that goes up to furnace mountain summit and right on the summit there is a campsite it's kind of cool well good morning it is very early on day two into Saturday lessons learned last night I brought the wrong sleeping bag note to self below 50 degrees bring the damn bag I froze my ass off last night in this snug pack summer weight bag I was too optimistic trying to cut the weight so this is what camp ended up more or less looking like last night set up in the dark I just fiddling with the tarp because I couldn't click get it to hang right so I'm still working on it is foggy and wet and cold so my poncho set up is a little rain shelter here this chair while a luxury item is going to be probably my favorite item on this entire trip quite certain of it at this point well I took a cube of wet fire to really get it going with all this very wet fuel but I think I will always carry us a little supply of wet fire but it works make them a coffee looking forward to it we've been some peeks of Sun but not a whole lot but I head out to the Overlook soon and show you why I bothered hiking up here in the rain so that I could have a cup of coffee with a nice view but solo stove works even the day after torrential rain so not bringing anything else guys this is it okay so the whole reason I hiked up here in the middle of the rain yesterday was basically so I could sit right here in my little chair and enjoy the view now the views very hazy right now but it'll burn off so I'm going to sit here and enjoy my coffee while watching the smoky haze down across the mountains here well I took my time have a nice leisurely breakfast packing up nice and slow you saw the view that I enjoyed but noon now on Saturday and I'm about to head off on the next leg which is going to be going up free foot mountain I believe and then going all the way across the ridge getting to the pain run valley area which is we're all camp tonight that's new now I think that's about eight miles I got to go so I should be able to go nice leisurely pace and at plenty of daylight cloudy and misty but not raining so I'll take it so goodbye to camp site number one I have done my best to leave no trace one nice thing about it being cooled up 50 degrees maybe mouth to most 48 50 no bugs haven't even had to slather on any bug spray yet clothes are treated with my Promethean but so I see mosquitoes I'll worry about putting on some bug spray but right now not too shabby alright so now I will concentrate on not tripping and check in a little bit later happy trails full rock field covered with lichen is chemical as I work my way back down to the next part of the trail kind of cool this part the trail has edging Moss edging along the trail as I come down furnace mountain kind of cool alright I am back at the trail Junction so I just came back to five miles just like most half a mile from the summit of furnace mountain this is the trail I came up yesterday which is the furnace mountain trail and we are going to continue now on the furnace mountain trail heading up that way well try to get the cool red bird I'm not quite sure what do you what yeah here I'm still not let me fly off to you may know what that is kind of the usual East Coast green tunnel coming from there coming down all decline at this point other than birds no sign of wildlife yet well if we can't find fauna we can at least find some flora lots of I don't know what this is sure if that's Columbine or what that is huh look your whole whole section of lots and lots of mountain laurel in this forest it's the neverending uphill climb Holy Smoke I've been climbing and climbing and climbing so far all day sweating a little bit too you know it's cold out here look that's me I sweat you have to stop and get something to eat here soon but I was hoping to get to the trail Junction before dropping my pack and taking a break but not there yet so I made it to the trail Junction so I've been coming up the furnace mountain trail I've come to point three miles since the last trail Junction 3.4 miles from the car plus the extra mile you know up and back to summit now we are changing direction and we're going to go straight foot mountain trail and we've got four point one miles to go for the day let me do the summit just to check it out why not I'm here wow it is really chilly when I stand still it's just in a very sweaty t-shirt so anyway I'm going to throw out my pack here take a little break for a few minutes well that's officially the summit but there is no view from this summit so three thousand three hundred eighty feet have it and three point eight miles till i- Payne pings run trail well not much of a view but a little bit of you know this way walking across top of trees with mums on the tree from our tree well I almost forgot what the Sun look like and if we come out to well but out there are my first glimpses a Skyline Drive so I will cross it over tomorrow and now I'm descending through an ocean of green toward pains run well we are not alone somebody else is using this trail there's one other couple that I passed behind me apparently there's a bear somewhere in the neighborhood still no sign of the bear seems like the can't place where you find a bear doesn't it two fairly fresh piles of scat on the trail a while back no sign of any per sign friend yeah like I said a little chair there that's coming on every trip I will try this mountain Smith the one that's at home for me but I mean that thing is the number one piece of gear this is making me feel comfortable flying big breaks so break time is over thought I hit the pack to the pack back on and finish the rest of the trek down down down to pains run so that's where I'm off to I took a break here for a little bit had a little snack actually made phone call it's a dead yes there is cell service in the middle of the wilderness area of Shenandoah Valley Shenandoah National Park go figure all right I got to go bye this is got a cool section the trail here this rock cliff archway out kind of cool just really descending a pretty sharp incline or decline and I'm way down now in this sharp valley it's almost Canyon like but you can't really see it too well through the trees but now 4:30 in the afternoon the light is really cool wind blowing through the treetops the treetops are way the heck up those are the steep slope side welcome to pains run I think I'm at the bottom that's the first water since Madison's run on the fire road where I parked so I took two leaders there and I've been working off that two leaders since then help there's my friend the hermit thrush I said I heard an owl a few minutes ago which is really kind of cool where as up high we go hoot owl sound alright here's here is the trail split so I have just come from tre foot mountain trail and pray from the mountain summit and I am now going to hit pains trail that away and let's go find it I guess and I gotta cross the the run and it looks like my blazes returning from blue to yellow so pains running an old logging road or fire road so it's wide and flat which is going to make tomorrow a lovely leisurely day as I walk my way all the way up to Skyline Drive I will be walking along Payne's run criss crossing it multiple times if I remember my map correctly let's go find a campsite sweet I thought a little side trail decided to follow it I found me set of established campsite kind of cool with the sound of rushing water just over there obviously an illegal fire ring right here since there are no fires allowed in Shenandoah not not not a good thing all right so a little bit better job tonight hanging the hammock something all leaked tonight got a nice spot on my head a little bit lower than my feet this time which hopefully will make things work better I'll let you know all right now that's what I'm talking about this is a camp like I want to leave tomorrow yeah my front porch set up right here my chair I'm gonna set up my stove under there gonna cook there showed you already my abode all set up for the night chillin she let it came up here had a delicious dinner I was deep stroganoff with needles it was actually pretty good and hit the spot after a long day of hiking I made a mess of my home for the moment I exploded my pack I got to leave everything up and put it away but charging up my Delorme and I was just charging the camera too but I felt like making one other last little clip of the day so today was the first full day out here in Shenandoah so I started on furnace mountain and dried everything out so I didn't get us started on the trail until about noon and then from there I made a fairly long slow leisurely hike down to here my knee is bothering me a little bit partly because my ego got the better of me and I was hiking in front of a couple that was sick coming up Waimea night I guess I just kind of was going too fast especially downhill and I'm paying for it a little bit so I'm hoping I can keep that off and feel better tomorrow might put this knee brace on tomorrow and go see how that goes I'm going to dig sleeping in this campsite hear the sound of a run running by should be pretty cool I'm going to wear multiple layers tonight so that I don't freeze my ass off so I'm wearing my crease and my insulated jacket now that it's dry this wet last night so I can do it and wear my beanie or my merino wool long johns and I might go with two pairs of socks tonight but actually it's not going to be I don't think it's cold tonight as it was last night man it was true that's not all rain but I will at least have three pairs of socks with me just in case a two came back down off Sparta's mountain summit hiked furnace mountain summit to the junction with tripod mountain trail and then went across the ridge of frequent mountain and then down this descent she gains run-ins Run Trail and camped along pains run trail on day two at night – hello real estate when you hit 221 p.m. and you've just finished putting your back on fully breaking down and you probably don't feel like hiking today but I really wanted to lay low and enjoy this campsite and take my time and that's what I did so it's 221 and I'm about to head over to Payne's Run Trail and start my three-point-something miles up to Skyline Drive and it's gonna be an interesting day well I knew it wasn't going to be a very good day for keeping my feet dry what an easy trail very big and wide so much so that couple people on horseback just came by heading up the trail ahead of me so yeah gonna get my feet wet sir just after I got my socks dry for the first time since I got here oh well here we go apparently some people like in fact that there are horses on the trail mmm delicious well Fox maybe I'm guessing we are not alone that's what you call a work ethic I guess that would be your proverbial dung beetle take an advantage of what horses leave behind on the trail but look at that sucker work man wonder how far he's got to go it's gotten very steep and I'm moving away from pains run if I remember my map right that means I'm making the final climb here to Skyline Drive so I'm guessing that's what's coming up here real soon I'm gonna guess I'll have sob reception and I'll call my mom and wish her happy Mother's Day because I'm a good son I have never been so happy to see a junction as I am right now and that last that last stretch of pains run trail is all straight up it was exhausting I was down to a crawl by the time I got here so next up is a stretch of the Appalachian Trail and I head over to Jones run trail well first I'm going to go drop my pack Here I am at now okay a little survey geological survey cool huh 2321 feet of elevation rotten road here now we're headin on the Appalachian Trail a whole lot of foot traffic coming by while I was taking a little break here at Black Rock gap but so it will not be alone for this segment of the journey the guy keeps going up at exactly this spot on the Appalachian Trail I've run out of all energy so I'm trying to finish eating this probe bar to a little bit of something in my bloodstream close this keeps going up forever it's got to be heavy to the top of that Ridge I got to be close I need some flat it's been all uphill today according my Fitbit yeah I'll give you the stats later but it's gonna be a lot of flight stairs all right I take back every bit of whining that I've done today on a lie I'll tell you why this made it worthwhile I was foolish enough to climb up there don't tell anyone that was another guy here so felt a little bit secure than if I broke my leg I wouldn't be totally alone up here you know it's 6 p.m. right now this is what happens when you start your hike at 2:30 and that is quite something man that's a lot of rocks hot rocks just below the summit here spectacular mercifully tall downhill now move uphill all day into blind Rock summit which was very cool I got to say highlight of the day now it's downhill I'm assuming it will continue to be downhill I haven't yet needed to the trail junction with Jones run but should be hit another half mile or so up the way here so soon hey Sun is getting low in the sky but I should have enough time to find a place to camp want to find a water source deer around here somewhere on this trail and I see I see a junction up ahead here could this be my trail Junction okay this has got to be my trail marker I'm thinking goes down steeply looks promising yep John's run trail that way made it and now we're going to drop some serious altitude and go find some water it's funny each section of woods has its own feel to it I feel really show up on video but coming down hill here towards the Jones run it's kind of lusher greener ferns is covering the whole forest floor kind of cool a couple of seconds ago I flushed out a female grouse I forgot to mention the first morning I'm not yes it would have been Saturday morning I woke up to that sort of subsonic drumming sound that a male grouse does it's kind of cold listen to him for a while us sitting in my hammock listening to the rainfall well I made it for Falls I'll get more footage tomorrow his late here to find a place to camp a bunch of guys canvass and thought I thought I could take MIT I'll find something three things run trail up to Skyline Drive and segment of the Appalachian Trail till we get to Joan's run fail here and like down the first set of Falls long johns run and came just above the falls well good morning is Monday day four I wait till I show you where I hung with hammock last night and last night was something else it was definitely or really really tired according to my Fitbit I've done 23,000 steps or something that was hidden back impressive until you add in that I did 191 flights of stairs a lot of up and down yesterday my knee is killing me my hip is telling me so Oh coming don't you Jones ones Falls here which you can fear probably in the background now and by the time I get down here I was just really charging along trying to find an established campsite and the only campsite I could find was taken there's a whole group of guys up on off the fail so I kept charging a little while longer got down to the bottom of the falls and said you know what I couldn't find an established campsite so doing my best to leave no trace and do a little damage to the ecosystem as I can by walking off trail I know I'll show you in a minute the falls are all down there in the trail down there too and I came up this hill and up camp on the side of the hill down to trees it would work made it my home for the night just about 50 degrees not much more than that at 8:30 in the morning on Monday and I'm saying get a slightly earlier start today I'm really tired though well me I'm learning on this trip is that I'm very out of shape until you have to do this a lot more often alright coffee late there's my scalp camp from down it not on the trail not bad eh you barely know I was there and then this is my filling zone nice fresh water running from all over the place very restful day so far at 10:40 in the morning goes the on the trail by noon which could be no problem so 1218 close enough this is not some military operation but other than some down trodden stinging nettles and believe me they gave me as good as they got yeah you're never going to know I was here all right I disturbed the belief matter a little bit but I'm up top here no one's going to know I don't even know if you can hear me but I was actually camp above Jones Falls a little fall we're nothing compared to the fall so here I am right above them only going down below in a minute so it wasn't packaged very nice little campsite right where I was planning camp originally at the confluence of soils run and Jones Run which is at the very bottom and now going up for the rest of the day up doors run here so I should be hitting boil to run Falls in the not-too-distant future Cummins for roughing it across the slippery rocks and I guess they don't want people falling down down that probably a good call and if you're crossing right here put it on those slippery rock we that might hurt yes I found oil calls they're kind of loud okay okay so wasn't clear that that was the fall but I guess there's enough or Falls as well the glacier do you think drop that sucker right up here at the top of the pause okay this is a serious paperweight so you think I should be worried standing underneath this humongous hunk of rock near this teetering right there dude I'm going to move along see guess these will be the Upper Falls all right another 9/10 of a mile up that way and I get back to the Appalachian Trail hang a left for a tiny little bit and then hang a right on the big run big one loop trail having over too big run apparently I'm making friends like a giant Salt Lick or somethin finally made it up endless uphill Doyle's run trail now I'm on a little tiny stretch southbound on the Appalachian Trail everyone I said that coming southbound on the Appalachian Trail for a little bit to get to the big run loop trail well nothing like a little extra mileage for no good reason I was never supposed to get on the Appalachian Trail so now I'm doubling back I'm supposed to just go right up to the parking lot and walk straight across the Skyline Drive to pick up the trail there so luckily this is a fairly flat stretch and then put me out too much yeah doubled back and into the Overlook and the trail heads up ahead little overgrown so can't let us see the Overlook too well the west side on the west side of Skyline Drive has a totally different feel yes this is the side of the wilderness area it feels less traveled but it's all Mountain Laurel on this side where is it not on the other side it's kind of interesting how it's just sort of different either side of the highway it's so quiet back here on this trail that you're sure if I'm going to find some wildlife this is where it's going to be a next one about this right here somebody ripped all this Moss off this rock may be looking for grubs don't know I haven't seen any scatter anything on the trail here but we shall see this is easily my favorite stretch of forest this entire trip so far it's like the light like the flora like isolation I like the smell and I think I found water yes I have yeah I'm going to keep going Sam hit the trails empty yet with you actually did run trail so further on it's so quiet on this trail well I finally reached the bottom or off is a big run I'm assuming maybe I don't know having seen the trail Junction yet but Steph we have water source well made to the trail Junction good thing somebody was smart enough to bring spare pair of glasses because I just realized I lost my glasses somewhere back there oh well good thing I got a spare order another pair when I get home so that I still have a spare hopefully I won't lose these ones kis gonna have a rough time using my little magnifying glass on my compasses only way I'll be able to see things okay I officially got my bearings keeping with the rule that you can only get lost once per day that's our direction we're off that way so big run trail yellow blaze another old jeep trail obviously not as well traveled as Payne's run well that's good it's just little foot track in the middle here well it's not a really nice campsite right on the water but rails beaten to it and they were setting up camp right now so nice to know who's fit for footprints I was following and hopefully they will be another equally nice campsite not the head here well as a refreshing crossing there was no getting across how and dry so now on the other side I see at this side holding all right I think I found home for the night it's like up a little rise from the trail over there and the rivers down there it's a big established campsite here and I think I have found my spot to hang all the way back in here day for like the rest of the way of Jones run to the confluence of Jones and Doyle's runs then hiked up Doyle's run up past oils from Upper and Lower Falls made a mistake and did a little piece of the southbound Appalachian Trail and really I was just going to go cross Skyline Drive and then get onto a big run loop trail down to big run and then hiked a little piece of big run Phillip Alma campsite well it is a guest day 5 I'm losing track at this point it is Tuesday it was election day so it is I guess May 16th just not dead a little text message saying happy Election Day I'd normally be working the polls with her today but obviously I'm here so I still do my absentee ballot hopefully I got there and sounds like she did a great job getting staffing for every day so our for the day so I don't think she'll have to spend too much time there was knives opening and closing anyway I am continuing my theme a very cold at night actually felt colder here than probably every night since the first night the first night we the coldest but it's so cold you know it really starts getting down around 2:00 in the morning and this has been a very moist sight – yeah my panic was kind of dewy and wet but feeling pretty good I had a lot of pain when I first went to bed I didn't feel like taking any drugs though it's just kind of pigheaded that way took a while to kind of settle down my hip and me and get myself bundled as best I can with this incorrect bag for the season but I managed and try and get some more food in me this morning since I'm still not having much luck to include to me but the ramen worked really well last night that seemed to go down easy and I might actually do a ramen for breakfast what the help get a bunch of nice nudey calories into me at the beginning of the day here shell all right I'm going to emerge from my little cocoon here I'm going to repeat that I'm definitely going to give it underquilt I used to make fun of people appeal under clothes aw come on the pads fine look here's what happens if a pad squishes out from underneath you and and then you're sitting on a total cold spot so um under quilt probably good technology keeping with my tradition very late starts hey by the way it's like my ear flaps there's clouds of these little bugs that just don't bite they just swarm your head and they want to crawl inside your ears and your eyes if you give them a chance so my ear flaps are my solution to that anyway I have packed up my camp I don't if you can see these guys on camera but I have like a swarm around my head you're not doing anything it's just my entourage they follow me wherever I go whether it's the bug sprayer or what they don't bite so I'm going to consider myself lucky I was worried they were black flies it looks sort of like black flies but they're not black flies because I'd be bleeding by now well this is a lovely little trail it's just a nice little afternoon stroll along the banks a big run I had to wade across already up to almost my knees at one point because there was no Rock hopping on that John John another reason I'm really glad that I switched to trail runners and food stocks I just kept trying not to fall and drop the camera into the water is the rocks you kind of slippery in fact I'm going to stop being foolish here midstream and I'm gonna put the camera away by okay so sometimes the trail is just a little bit rocky and a little while ago and shoot it but yeah sometimes the trail becomes part of big run and you just walk along a walk in the water I think that's where all these rocks come from this is just the bed of a an occasional runoff River depending on the rain that's better now's rocky my entourage remains with me I'm a little mystified on a Darwinian basis what the purpose of this is since they're spending all this energy flying around my head coming with me wherever I'm going and it don't seem to get much out of it so if anyone's got a sense of what that's all about let me know it's all obviously burned at some point lots of evidence of down fern trees maybe that's why they say no fires they've had enough of those fires just past a guy heading in the opposite direction on the trail he was waving his bandana I said are you got a cloud of these things too it's like I'll tell you I'm seeing so a little wildlife on this trip that I feel obligated to document that which I find a little guy about the most exciting treat you so far on the trail so I've arrived at the confluence of rocky mountain run and big run so this is a big run which I've been coming along all along here and this trail is right here but this comes out right here at Rocky Mountain Run which I now have to wait across because the trail picks up over there and there should be a trail Junction right up ahead there with the break off for Rocky Mountain Trail at which point I will have to make some decisions about going with the original plan or going with modification of the plan I'm not sure yet I got to decide in a couple of minutes all right so here's the decision-making point I am right here at the juncture between big run here and Rocky Mountain run my original plan was to go all the way up all the way over and camp down here near big portal a big round portal or I could just go the mile and a half up here and here's what I'm thinking I'm going to do I'm going to go the mile and a half up this way find a place to drop and set up camp see what time it is because two o'clock now I should have enough time if I drop my pack and just use a day pack with some water to at least go up and summit and back or depending on time go all the way around and come all the way back so that's my modification I'm going to head all the way down to a big run portal find campsite and then decide on how far go on a day hike with less weight on my back seriously who blaze this trail have to be somebody who sells water shoes or something I've lost count on how many crosses this is I'm down here at River level that other trail it goes up there this is why I really didn't want to do with a full load now I'm wondering why would it do it at all I'm going to scout out a little further ahead but this might be my camp for the night Yeah right on the water establish camp site should be able to hang between those two trees right there it's a little bit of a walk maybe five minutes up to here there's the bridge so Brown Mountain Trail up to the right Rocky Top Trail half a mile to the left big run portal to the left this is unmarked I'm guessing this is the campsite because if this is a good campsite then I will move my pack down here because this would be kind of ideal positioning yep there's one campsite which I could cool that's nice I might have to come back here of course this is the other thing I thought might happen it's good by the time I got all set up in this place I mean this is like so beautiful here this is definitely my favorite campsite of the entire trip and I own a little pond here which I am about to go take a swim in I've got my hammock hanging right off the water here and that my gear exploded over there and over here but I'll clean up shortly but it's already 3:30 my time I got everything set up here there's really not enough time to go off the damn mountain for Ellen honestly I feel like taking it easy I feel like I can doing a little camping and sitting here and taking a little swim in my pool rims off well I think he's actually giving you my last night out here in Shenandoah bug you're still not biting magic and when the head medica just this one pointing they're just in my face I had a very nice dinner in my beach here I'm really enjoying my campsite here but I think what I'm going to do is tomorrow I'm going to hike out all the way to the car should be about in nine mile hike a lot of up and down but up and over the ridge we obviously cut out the optional loop that I've built into the trip which was Brown Mountain Trail and rotten top of mountain trail rocky no Rocky Mountain Rocky Mountain run trail that was the least that I was going to do today well I didn't get this far down here to camp as I'd planned last night so anyway thank God push back and then today today was a day of leisure and rest and I think I earned it my vacation what the hell all the fencing shabby I'm sitting here eating my solo stove on the beach keeping it happy yep yeah I went to get the camera and I almost let it die I have only had a diet once and even then all you have to do is blow on it and you get a roaring set of flames and if you keep a couple of pine twigs around and you can make it really blow up in the flame but your pockets all-city dirt so you know dinner in front of my pool some big fish jumped out of there earlier I know people go fishing on the big run having a second dinner unfortunate I hopefully eat more I mean I I mean this is ridiculous look I mean this entire bag is coming home with me that was supposed to be a well planned out set of meals for a six day hike i budgeted 2600 calories a day I mean I have to do a count when I get home but I mean this is crazy I barely made a dent in his I've been lugging all this weight around for no reason whatsoever because I've had no appetite you know I'm making myself eat at a mountain house my favorite mountain house which is the chicken teriyaki with rice but I'm giving myself no another ramen at ramen for breakfast having ramen for second dinner it's been my view for the last few hours I just want to commemorate it this place is awesome so on day five from my campsite along big run ice a long big run got to my decision point here where I had originally planned to go up Rocky Mountain and trail up and over Brown Mountain Trail and then come down to big run portal but instead I just went straight shot up big run trail to the portal and camped there where I found town of the portal site thought about going up a day hike to the summit of Brown Mountain and Rocky Mountain but ended up laying low at the campsite and just having a relaxing time with it well good morning happy Wednesday at 8:30 in the morning and whip up some breakfast finish breaking down camp and get on the road got a long ways to go I was a couple of minutes before 11 which is right on time for me for a 10 o'clock departure for those of you who know me I have cleared camp and left no trace including picking up the last person's trash of the extra soap bottle and it is 75 degrees it is Wednesday I've got a long haul up and over that mountain I don't think you can really see it through the trees there but I got to climb a mountain run a ridge and just end a mountain got to be a fun day you see if I can do it all in one shot and make it to the car at a reasonable time if I do then I will call ahead and find myself a hotel room got the earflaps going again because my entourage is apparently with me again today I'm back on the steel bridge here but up there is where I'm going Rocky Top trail I've got to climb up to there and then I got to run that Ridge for quite a ways as I get to Austin mountain and then take Austin mountain trail down to magically run fire road and that is when I will hopefully have a car waiting for me all right I have every the next signpost so heading over toward Louis Peak Trail which I was going to do and then camp ad before but I think I'm going all the way to Austin Mountain Trail which is 5.3 so off we go apparently Luttrell that's a little bit less traveled back to a very narrow track through some very pretty flora it's pretty cool this is the dentist of any where I've been so far in Shenandoah all very low young growth I wonder if this all burned out and he's all grown back huh but it is quite thick and dense and steep I'm blanking on the name of that other mountain range on the other side there I'm energetic I'll put it up as a title when I look at the map retarted today I'm cooking but it's beautiful absolutely beautiful look at all these flowers my whole my whole trail is nothing but flowers you know different time of year I believe these are all berries that would be when the Bears are on the trail these would be all berries reminded me a lot of the Catskills and like Minnewaska has that same kind of fauna or I mean flora kind of feel even smells the same kind of interesting these we all berries wouldn't mind if there were some now would mine seen a bear but no bears today so far on this trip well first off there's my proof of my theory that this is all densely grown because it was well having burned that suckers charred all the way to the top that obviously the higher I go the bigger the Vista get I know it's redundant but you're getting to see them fold the same way I do and the answer to the trivia question that other peek across the way there is massive nuttin massive nuttin peak I made it around Rocky Top you don't actually summit Rocky Top this trail sort of circles around it but onto the ridge now because I can't see it real well but that's the interior Vista and then that's back out to the Shenandoah Valley so now I'll just walk the spine for a while well Rocky Top trail is all exposure that's the Sun today good thing I put my sunscreen on for our left is a rocky trail no that's why they call it Rocky Top the summit is rocky probably is but doesn't seem like that could possibly compare Black Rock because that was a rocky top Hey all right sure there's rocks up there buddy oh I think it's quite like the pile of rocks it not black rocks um it was but I kind of like this trail you know it's a little hot and sunny Sara finally peaked out on elevation and reached some level ground here if we get a view through these trees in a second here I'll show you the lowest peak that I was going to camp on tonight originally that's the plan that's sort of changing and that's that's Lois peak up there so this trail will wrap around and then come around to the right and then there's a summit trail that goes up there and there's a camp site up on top there the problem all along with this plan for their page looks sorry about that problem with this plan for this day was it there's no water sources that these elevated sites so if I were to camp up on Lois peak and have to set up camp and then I have to hike all the way down the other direction dropping all that elevation in about a mile and a half to get to a water source and then lug that water all the way back up there for my camp for the night and obviously I don't feel like it so this is actually sort of interesting I read about this on a blog site so these are fossils of some kind of worm tunnels or something like that I got to look it up again but up here on rocky top the rocks are all grouped like this some ancient seabed many many moons ago if I understand the story right once again I'll point out these are also going to be berries well those little flowers is it's going to be some good eatin later in the season that's my one disappointment on this trip probably the wrong time of year I get to come back during berry season if I want to see it there but not a single bear it's kind of counting on that here in Shenandoah haven't even seen the deer the biggest creature I think I've seen is the grouse that I flushed out one day so I've seen bear scat I know they're here I've seen Fox scat I know they're here too but I saw deer prints in the mud a couple of days ago so I mean they're here and actually cross the lady on the trail who said she saw some deer but me I'm not seeing much wildlife maybe because I'm talking to you all the time you're keeping them all scared away all right onwards to accentuate the fact that this was once a seabed I'm walking on sand pretty loud look it's my rescue choppers are looking for me hope not yes this is what they meant when they said this was the most remote area of the park some of us gets traveled all that heavily kind of dense in here so like now I may have spoken too soon something like crash them through the brush back there but so dense I couldn't tell you what the heck it was it was fairly large I'm guessing deer more likely than bear it's just by the sound of it don't know but anyway thought I'd share this with this kind of cool you know I'm so gullible to believe me before when I found you all that not I wasn't really where I thought I was being optimistic that how far I had traveled but that slowest peak now confirmed by GPS I was one valley too soon here but that's pretty cool Vista from here I'm just taking off break there's actually a campsite low-waist back there it's kind of weirdly I'm purchased a little precariously don't don't tell my wife huh I guess it would be bad to fall but have got to $100,000 of emergency rescue insurance so ya know riding like a horse come on I'm just going to hang out here for a lot of hard work to get here that's of you I'm going to enjoy for a while rocky fields have such a maybe parallel to come on it makes it an interesting sound when you walk across them kind of otherworldly about stepping out of the woods I'm to just to feel the stone like this it's a big one it goes all the way down way too late kind of like its sibling over there on Lewis peak all these little Pines growing up amidst the charred remains of their ancestors well these evils that makes cool crunching sound [Applause] well I gotta tell ya how the longest 3.5 miles in my freakin life because I don't understand as possible it was almost 3 o'clock that means I was doing less than a mile an hour up all that elevations now in fairness to me I will say and that my Fitbit says that was 128 flights of stairs in elevation but now it's one point eight miles to Austin Mountain Trail and that's another three point something from there to madison run say a long ways to go I'm very short on water there are no water sources up here so I've got to keep going I'm not going to this was the original plan was to go to Louis Peak Trail and then I would still have to hike two point six miles from here to get to the next water source which is practically at the at the park boundary but we're heading this way one point a Miles Austin Trail so it's flat and then I can hoof it pretty quick because I'm Way behind schedule if it's three o'clock already this this stretch is pretty cool oh it's a ball grassy apparently not a ton of traffic this way right on the ridge the spine views out that side use at that side and nothing but a grass ahead all right sorry I've got my pack here take a little rest of course myself to put some calories in me change what's left of my water three point two miles down now it's Madison runs yeah should be straight freakin down from here that should be furnace mountain and that is probably the Overlook I had breakfast on Saturday morning looking this way I will be very glad to get to some water salt my eyes now hi I'm very very tired but very happy it's hard to make sense anything some calories will be good and a big greasy cheeseburger is on the menu tonight soon as I recover little guy Snickers feet no arm on it oh thank god there's the road waters on the other side hi I'm so thirsty no your lie that last three and a half miles without any water was not easy by the time I got through the bottom photos just walking like a drunk person and when I got my packing a beeline for the Madison run filled up my two liter bladder ashes just suck down an entire leader right there in there and I could probably drink more but you know wait till I get for the car so I'm walking down the fire road now forget how long it is maybe half a mile and then I'll come on the left to where I started furnace Trail Junction and then just pass the chain at the end of the drive where I hope to find an orange car well ladies and gentlemen I do believe this is where we began almost this exact time of day on Friday and there's now Wednesday and I just came down off the mountain tress and my chain link is there I'll bet further we'll see if there's a car ha sight for sore eyes peeking out of the woods there other people are parked here so that's my orange 'mobile all right why a lefty so the original day six plan had been to hike a long rocky top mountain trail up to Lewis peak trail hike up his peak trail set up camp on Lewis peak and then hike down to the water source and then back up to the peak well I was tired I didn't feel like doing that so instead day six ended up being the final hike out from the big run portal came up Rocky Top Mountain trail all the way to the intersection with Austin mountain trail and hiked Austin mountain trail all the way down to Madison we're on fire Road and then out the fire road and back to the parked car