Short Mountain Winter Trail Work and Cold Run

January 10, 2004
By Bill Van Antwerp


4:20 AM-Russ Evans picks me up in Herndon- Temperature 18 degrees
5:00 AM- We meet Gary at Veina Metro
5:30 AM- Purchase breakfast at Mobil in Front Royal
6:40 AM- Hook up with Bill Sublet at Edinburg Gap and drive to Moreland Gap
7:30 AM- Start up trail - 12 Degrees
1:00 PM- My son Tom and his friend Devon meet us on trail- 28 Degrees F (fresh young muscle )
4:30 PM- Finish trail work on Short Mountain and decide to change our planned run from 12 miles to Jawbone Gap-15 degrees and falling.
5:07 PM- Start 10 mile run from Moreland Gap- 8 Degrees
5:10 PM- Sun sets
5:32 PM- Finish running 3 miles down hill to Crimson Hollow Road and Gary’s finally gets warm
7:02 PM- Finish 10 mile run- 2 Degrees
9:20 PM- Enter Mexican restaurant and order Margaritas and beers
10:50 PM- Check into hotel and draw numbers to see who get to use the shower first. We snack on chips drink John Dobbs special Yoohoo or Jim Beam and coke while watching Football on TV
11:48 PM- game ends and we sleep.

4:41 AM- wake up and try to make to the bathroom without tripping over Russ or Bill sleeping on the floor
7:07 AM Gary wakes up and everyone wakes up
8:05 AM- Breakfast at the Royal Dairy in Front Royal remembering John Dobbs and his Bandana shop
10:45 AM-I arrive at home

Rolling a LogEditorial Note: John Dobbs is mentioned here as he provided much entertainment on the trail as well as liquid refreshment without being there. We are thankful for this as well as the fact he was not there to obtain information and writing material.

Highlights of the day:

Gary Knipling "Short Saw Gary", Bill Sublet "Burrow Bill", Russ Evans "Lopper Russ" and I "Bar Bill" cleared the short Mountain trail on Saturday.

As we were getting ready to leave the car at Moreland Gap, Gary pulls out his new, never used bow saw. He also pulled out a 5’ foot long 20-25 Lb. metal bar. Our first reaction was who is going to carry that? It seems when "Short Saw Gary" found out I was coming he figured he had enough hands to bring alone another very useful tool and I was the best one to carry it. As luck would have it I would also be the measuring tool for the trail. Being 6’4" tall I could check the height of limbs and with the 5 foot bar I could check the width of the trail.

Moving down the trail and up the mountain "Short Saw Gary" was having second thoughts on whether we should work this trail or not. Evidently cutting everything in sight was not providing a true test of our trail clearing skills. Someone had recently preceded us with a chainsaw and cut many logs and removed them from the trail. After much discussion we decide to continue which was a good thing. By the time we finished manicuring the trail 6-7 trees were removed and god knows how many rocks. This was done with the use of leverage provided by "Bar Bill" and everyone’s muscle. We removed so many rocks it created the highway affect on what use to be a very rough rugged trail. About half way we wondered if we were creating an alternative to interstate 81.

Bill, son Tom, and DevonWhen the young muscle, my son Tom and his friend Devon showed up, we enjoyed watching these guys rip trees out of their fallen position with bare hands and throw logs over 100 lbs. off the trail. We got tired just watching them. When they showed up at 1:00 PM they claimed the electricity went out where they were sleeping so they didn’t leave the house until after 9:00AM. Yeah we believe that two good looking single guys on a Friday night went to bed early so they could get up early.

After spending over 9 hours doing trail work we still had our run to get in. Most would say that the trail work was enough for one day but we were here primarily for a night run not the trail work. Our limitation was based on when the Mexican restaurant in Front Royal closed, which was 10:30 PM. We changed into running gear as quick as possible since we were chilled and with every exposure of skin we became colder. Must have been that 8 degree temp with the sun setting. At least we had a 3 mile down hill start to warm up.

Skilled Work Practices in the WoodsAs we run down hill it was evident why we were here. The creek that cascaded next to the snow dusted gravel road dusted had waterfalls frozen in time. As we look down the road we see Kennedy Peak with a view that is only possible at sunset in the winter. Going up Crimson Hollow road, the snow crunching under our feet we see the silhouette of the mountains on our right as the light struggles to disappear. Becoming very cold we look forward to the uphill to Jawbone Gap and turn on our lights. As we hit the ridge line there is a slight breeze from the west which chills us quickly. We stop for a few minutes to look at the spectacular sky with all the stars. Gary our resident astronomer discusses the various constellations visible in the winter sky. If it wasn’t so cold we would stay here soaking up the beauty of darkness of a beautiful winter sky. Dropping off the ridge the air seemed to warm slightly. 20 minutes later the run is done and the temperature is 2 degrees.

It was great to be finished. Looking back we did not see much wildlife (three grouse, eight dear). We did however see tracks in the snow of many mice including kangaroo mice, a couple of bob cats, a coyote and two bear.

For now the Short Mountain and Jawbone Gap trails are clear.

Bill Van Antwerp

Russ Manhandles a Tree

Virginia Happy Trails Running Club
Home | News | Events | Membership | Members Only | Photos
Bull Run Run 50 | Massanutten Mt. Trails 100 | Training Runs | Links