Lovely trails, loud cicadas, weird mushrooms, gnarly roots, rocky hills, beautiful brooks, and lots of wrong turns in the woods! Many thanks to Janet Choi and Lucas Moten for telling me about this opportunity, and to pawpaw-loving ultrarunner Sarah Curtis for organizing the event and for kindly providing great aid stations at the midpoint and the finish line.
Today's trek is an informal affair put on by the DC Capital Striders (DCCS) trail running "Wolfpack" group. The event begins in the company of J&L, who do the first ~5 miles and then, because of time constraints, turn back. Onward, solo, it's a chance to go off course and miss the turn from the South Valley Trail onto the Oak Ridge Trail at mile ~9. At the Oak Ridge Campground cast about, refill bottles at a water faucet, backtrack, and discover the proper route.
The "Aid Station" in the woods at mile ~11 is a big cooler filled with fruit and drinks. After a text-message to reassure RD Sarah, miles ahead, that all's well, excelsior! — only to veer off course again at mile ~12, turning the wrong way on Old Blacktop Road. But within a quarter mile the mistake is obvious, so again backtrack to find the official route.
Now it's deja vu all over again along the North Valley Trail, familiar from "Red Eye" VHTRC New Years Day races, past noisy streams and densely wooded terrain near an abandoned pyrite mine. Cross the creek on a bridge to explore a new segment there instead of the gravel road route, arrive safely back at the start/finish parking lot, visit with Sarah and rehydrate, eat hummus and chips and grapes, then head for home. What a great day!