I couldn’t wait for the work day to end so that I could head out to the trails this afternoon! My training plan has upped the midweek run to double digits and I was feeling ready for some much needed time among the leaves, rocks, roots, and trees. I was especially excited because I figured this distance would allow me to explore the new-to-me section of trail out near Hammonds Rocks that we ran on Sunday during the Buck Ridge Burn. I absolutely loved the baby pine section that ended up going to the Ravine Trail, which takes you down a steep and rocky descent along the creek.
I parked at the Scenic Vista trailhead in Kings Gap and took Buck Ridge Trail to Hammonds Rocks. As I ran on the new trail off of Buck Ridge, I had a pretty easy time figuring out where to turn to take the loop around the rocks like we did in the race. I was able to take some pics that I had thought about taking during the race (but didn’t want to stop then to do it!). It’s so pretty back there.
Then when my loop came to an end I turned right onto the grassy trail that lead to the long-awaited baby pines.
I was too busy running the downhill, but did get some pics of the creek when I got near the bottom.
I continued to run until I had 5 miles out and the plan was to reverse and head back to the car. This meant another loop around the Hammonds Rocks section. Somehow I got turned around and ended up unsure of where I was after the second loop. I say “turned around” because I knew how to get back to familiar trail. I wasn’t necessarily lost…yet! None of the trail in this particular area are marked and there are many intersections of trail that look similar in spots. I knew if I turned around and retraced my steps I could figure it out, but the trail was leading me to some amazing overlooks so I couldn’t help but check them out and I still had enough daylight.
After checking out the overlooks, I continued on and realized the terrain and mountains definitely did not look right. I knew I was heading in the wrong direction for sure, so I turned around and found this tree farther down the trail. I knew I still had plenty of daylight left and I had extra water with me, so I was good!
When I got to another intersection, I decided to take a small log and block off the direction I didn’t want to go so that if I ended up back here again I would be able to familiarize my self more easily. Thankfully, the direction I picked got me back to the grassy road that led to the small unmarked Hammonds Rocks parking area and I knew exactly where I was. Ten miles turned into twelve but extra miles are always a blessing in disguise!
This exact situation is why I always take my phone, extra water, and extra snacks on a longer run. Especially if I know I plan to explore new trails. You can never be too prepared!