This is a sequel to "Another Saturday Night Ė in Luray" (with all due credit to scribe, John Dodds). It involves one of the cast of characters, the mild mannered Dave Yeakel. Dave had only a bit role in that adventure since Gary Knipling stole the show. Fast forward 4 weeks.
As part of our Wasatch 100 training, Dave and I decided to enter the Martha Moats Baker Memorial 50-K. We met up at the Centreville Park and Ride at "oh dark 30" Russ Evans time (4:15 a.m., which for Russ is a late start). We headed down through Bridgewater with no problems. Turning on to Rt. 257 I noticed a car with a "TWOT" (The Wild Oak Trail) bumper sticker. I said "Follow that car. It will know where to go."
Mistake #1. So what does Dave do? Instead of following that car, he consults the directions he printed off to the start. Unfortunately, Dave misread the directions taking a right turn on Rt. 730 at Sangerville, when he should have taken a left turn. I was busy putting on my socks and shoes, but after 5 or 6 miles, I noticed that we had reached Rt. 257. I said "This canít be right. Let me see the directions." We turned around and stopped at a gas station where we were told to continue in the direction we were going. It was now obvious that we were going to get to the start late as it was 6:55 and we were 9 or 10 miles from the White Oak trail head.
Deer Crossing. Upon leaving the gas station we encountered two deer in the road. One of the deer scurried off into the wilderness, but the second, a young deer, looked uncertain as to what to do as Dave slowed down the car to avoid hitting the deer. Next this we noticed was this young deer taking a leap direction INTO the fence on the side of the road. Boing! The visual was priceless. When I looked back, the deer was gone, so I guess it was shaken but ok.
We got to the start at 7:10 and checked in with Dennis Herr. Another runner, Charles (Chuck) Bowles, arrived around the same time. Dennis asked if we knew where we needed to go. Dave and I had our maps, so we were confident, even though this was my first time out on The Wild Oak Trail. Chuck left his map in his car.
The three of us started up the trail and soon crossed the road and a bridge over the creek and headed up into the wilderness. Chuck asked if we were supposed to be crossing the bridge. I said yes, this is the only way the trail goes here. Chuck moved ahead as Dave and I sauntered up the trail.
Bee Sting. Next thing I hear is Dave saying "ouch." He had stirred up the bees and one of them got revenge by stinging Dave on the head. Dave shook it off and said it was a good thing he isnít allergic to bee stings.
Trail Intersections. Five miles into the trail, we came to the intersection with another trail which came in at a sharp left. This seemed to be correct, since according to our trail map the Grooms Ridge Trail was supposed to merge into the Wild Oak Trail at this point. Four miles later we came to a sign that said "Trail 716 FDR 95 3 miles" if we continued in the same direction, but we consulted our map and determined that we needed to stay on the white (Wild Oak) trail. It was at this point where we had the first inkling that we may be in the wrong place as the trail didnít look like it had any earlier traffic on this day. We continued down a steep section. After 2.5 miles we came to a well maintained forest road, FDR 96. The sign behind us read "Dowells Draft Trail 2.5 miles." We consulted our maps again and determined that we are not anywhere on the map we had printed out for the run.
Doh! We had gone clockwise on the Wild Oak Trail instead of following the directions and going counterclockwise. At least we didnít end up on some Native American reservation in Montana. And we didnít hear any dueling banjos playing.
Within a minute, a man and a women drove up the hill and stopped. We asked them how far it was to Reddish Knob, as we should have been close to it, being 11 miles into our excursion. The man indicated that we were approximately 16 miles by road, maybe a little less by trail, but the trail is rough. Duh! He had a forest service map of the area, so we figured we could trust what he said. Soon we were offered a ride to the intersection of FDR 85 and FDR 95, which would leave us approximately 6 miles from Reddish Knob. Next thing we knew we were being driven to that location.
Getting Back on Track. After running/walking up the road for a few miles we came to a yellow ribbon and the climb up to Reddish Knob. Shortly after noon we were at the top of the knob and aid station #1 over two hours behind the other runners, except for Chuck and Alan Norman, both of whom were unaccounted for at that time. We heard Alan eventually found his way back to the start. We didnít find out what happened to Chuck until Monday, when we were told Chuck went down the Dowells Draft Trail before retracing his steps and ended up doing the entire length of the White Oak Trail. We assumed he headed off into West Virginia on some wrong trail. Chuckís car was gone when we got back to the start, so Dave and I figured Chuck had found his way back.
Once we got to Reddish Knob, we had a relatively uneventful remainder of the run, except that Dave twisted his ankle on the nasty long grassy section of the upper part of Hearthstone Trail after we turned off the Timber Ridge Trail. We were able to follow the direction and find our way to the Doggy Graveyard, where Bill Gentry was manning the aid station. Even though it was almost 4 PM we decided to climb up the Grooms Ridge Trail, and back down the Wild Oak Trail in accordance with the directions given for the run.
When we arrived at the finish at 6:30 PM, after 40 miles on our feet and 10 miles in a strangerís car, not a soul was to be found. Gary Knipling had skipped the run on this day, so the party ended early. Boo Hoo!
Lessons Learned (or Not)
Thatís our story. We never did get to see the sign:
Martha Moats Baker
Froze To Death Near This Spot
On Brushy Mountain
Found August 30, 1925 (or was it August 31, 1925)
Thanks, Dennis Herr, for hosting another great run on the Wild Oak Trail.
August 18, 2009