Monday, May 17, 2010

Duncan Knob, Page County, VA

It was an absolutely perfect weekend for backpacking in the Shenandoah this past weekend as my friends and I of Troop 976 in Vienna VA hiked our way through to Duncan Knob, just outside of New Market Virginia. Many of our boys were out for their very first backpack overnighter including my son....and myself. The boys as well as adults had a blast of a good time deep in the woods, pushing ourselves, enjoying ourselves and learning many lessons along the way.

(Click on the picture for a larger view)

Trustworthy Navigators.

The effort.

The reward.

The boys built a massive, and one of the best, fire rings I've seen. We were in for quite a blaze.

An interesting story began to emerge late in the day. We were in the middle of no where, roughing it, with no water source. Everything we had we brought with us. We were all patting ourselves on the back for our 3-4 mile up hill journey. Around 4 pm a man with a camel back, trail shoes, and bib number on his shorts came racing through our campsite. Later another man, and another. Then some women. It didn't take us long to figure out we were on a major artery for an endurance race taking part that very day. These folks were participating in the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Mile Run and we were sitting at about the 70 mile mark!

All afternoon and late into the night these folks came very quietly up and over the crest where we camped. Every time one came through, the boys would pause to clap and cheer and wish the runners luck. You can see the smiles on their faces below as they ran into this unanticipated welcoming party. It was a hoot and a very positive inspiration for all of us. All night long we saw little LED lights come quietly through our camp. It was humbling and (almost) made us feel guilty for curling up in our warm sleeping bags and snoozing the night away.

(If you are curious about this event please see this race summary by race sponsor Virginia Happy Trails Running Club. I contacted their webmaster and they included a link to this blogpost. Make sure you read the comments below this post.)

As we broke camp and headed down the mountain we were still occasionally passed by the ultra runner who had literally been up all night running through the forest. Many appeared to be in their 50s and 60s. Every time they passed, the Troop would part like Moses parting the sea and cheer the runners on. I hope they all reached their personal goals and got home safely.

My son and I sharing in another beautiful view brought to us by Boy Scouts of America. You can't find moments like these in a video game.


  1. Robert Iglesias, here. I envy you. You get to climb up mountains while I'm stuck here on flat land.

  2. Marivi and Alex MataMay 17, 2010 at 9:58 PM

    Dan, We just had great fun reading your blog. Thanks for sharing and watching out for the boys.

  3. Thanks for Cheering us on!

    James Blandford

  4. Thanks for cheering me on in the middle of the night! It was completely unexpected and made my first MMT 100 very special.

  5. I appreciated the words of encouragement as I crested the mountain at around 10:00 pm. I knew that was a great place to camp. I took care not to come too near your nice fire because it just looked too comfortable.
    Ham Tyler #165

  6. It was a real boost to see you guys, and thanks for this great report! We came through camp right about dusk,myself and womens winner, Sheryl Wheeler :-)

  7. The fire pit looks great and was the first item I noticed before seeing your tents - Thanks for the improvement to one of my favorite spots in the Massanuttens.

    Dave Yeakel Jr.

  8. Thanks for the love Saturday night!!!

    Brad Hinton
    pacer for my friend Ragan Petrie #134

  9. You guys were an inspiration thanks for cheering us on. Many happy trails to you.
    #15 Vince Bowman

  10. I have run the race in the past, and I can assure you that a cheering section at night in an unexpected place was probably a major highlight of the race for a lot of runners. I hope your peace & quiet wasn't infringed on too much!

  11. Troop 976,
    Hearing your cheering during the climb up Duncans Knob helped pull me uphill around 9pm. The night portion's first dark climb is a low point. Your welcome at the top felt like running into Olympic Stadium and recharged my flagging spirits.
    I would have loved to have stopped to talk NCAC, Philmont and BSA around the campfire - I'm Scoutmaster for 50+ Scouts in Troop 1066 in MD - but the clock was ticking.
    Thanks for the blogpost and cheering us on - it was great for our mental game. I had a great day and night on the course thanks to all the good turns on my behalf from A/S volunteers and Troop 976.
    Wishing you many more Happy Trails.
    Dave Garman #62

  12. Thanks runners for your kind comments. We are honored to know that our Scout's efforts made a positive impact on your night. And please know that your 100 mile challenge spawned many a curious conversation amongst the boys....and we adults as well.

  13. Dan & runners - Thanks for sharing. I can't wait to see the great pictures

  14. Thanks for all your positive energy and encouragement - it meant a lot to us! It was a wonderful bit of trail magic in the middle of the night!

    Ray Bovaird #14

  15. thank you for the report! --- alas, my buddy and I had to drop at mile 53.6 and didn't get to see the troop --- maybe next year!

  16. Very cool, Uncle Dan! Perhaps a 100 miler will be the next adventure dad and I attempt... or not :)