I run a lot in George Washington National Forest but have hardly spent any time in the Shenandoahs. Man I've been missing out! It was a beautiful 20-21 mile loop. There are some great views and a lot of fun trail that is very runnable (especially compared to the Massanuttens).
Below is a picture from the spot where we all met up at 7am. The trailhead was about 15 minutes away from here towards the mountains. While it was supposed to hot later in the day, it was mid 50s at this point and looking like an excellent day for a run. It did warm up as the day went on, but it never felt too hot with the shade on the trail and lack of humidity.
The next few pictures show the view from Big Devil Stairs, which we got to by a side trail at the top of the first climb. On the way up, we saw a bear from the distance, and there was a buzzard hanging out at the top of Big Devil Stair. Hooray wildlife!
I didn't really know the route, so I was trying to stick with someone who knew the way. That someone ended up being Keith, which meant I had to run hard. This was at the bottom of the first climb, and I was starting to feel not so good. I hung back a bit but kept Keith and John in sight and met up at the General Store.
The next climb really worked me over, and I felt like crap. Keith very kindly circled back for me to point me in the right direction for the next turn. It was all downhill from there, but I just couldn't get the legs going. I started to cramp up and realized I was probably low on salt. I ended up taking four S-caps pretty rapid fire and really came back to life. I was back to having a good time in the last few miles and finished strong.
Thanks to the VHTRC for another excellent run! I'm excited to get back out to explore this area again soon.