This weeks major training hike incorporated our fully weighted, Camino ready packs, a moderate distance and some serious elevation gain.
We chose the Cub Creek Trail for a few reasons. First, it was close to home and second, the US Forest Service will be extending Cub Creek to meet up with Staunton State Park. Mark works and Sandy volunteers at Staunton, so we both thought it would be neat to see what it was like before the expansion. Since neither of us had hiked it before, we decided today would be as good a day as any to train there.
The weather called for temperatures in the 80’s at elevation with gusty winds and low humidity, so we decided to get an early start. We arrived at the trailhead a little after 0800 and it was already starting to get warm.
We were the only car in the lot and as we made our way up the trail, we understood why. The initial sections of the trail were in pretty shoddy shape, resembling a rocky dry river bed more than a hiking trail.
Our discussion centered on being careful not to twist an ankle or blow out a knew on the kazillion or so loose rocks. Next, we discussed what was the worse trail conditions – loose rocks or sticky mud. We both agreed it was a toss up.
After about a mile of negotiating each foot placement we finally escaped the rocks! We entered a nice clearing where we could see a stunning vista.
A bit further up the trail we began to wonder just where Cub Creek was and when we would encounter it. I really like hiking next to a stream. It just seems to take your mind off the walking and provides an interesting stimulus for the brain. Well, we never came across any creek, no less Cub Creek, but we did see two neat springs bubbling up from the ground.
We continued hiking up hill until we reached the top of a mountain with an elevation of 9,550′. The peak was just northwest of Staunton. The rocky terrain provided us with a great table to drop off our heavy packs and rock chairs to rest our feet. After a short break for a snack we were once again on the trail, this time heading back down the trail.
Hiking back was much more easy until the final mile of loose rocks. We made sure to firmly plant our poles before each step. Even so, we both felt pretty lucky to have made it through this section of trail without a significant injury.
All in all it was a strenuous training hike of 5.15 miles with an elevation gain of 1,250′. That, plus the fact we were both carrying over 20 pounds in our packs, gave us great satisfaction that we are well on our way toward being in “Camino shape.”