Hellgate Recon (Glenwood Horse Trail)

I just had to remind Beautiful Beastie and Tiny Brazilian that it was 6 o’clock in the morning. On a Sunday. So they would stop making my phone make noises.

There is no adventuring for me today. We did quite enough of that yesterday.

We did some Hellgate recon yesterday morning. And all we were told going in was where to park and that we’d be doing 20.

When Beautiful Beastie assigns us to run 20 miles. I know that I should have no expectations of what the actual mileage will be.

She just picks numbers sometimes. Usually 20. Because 20 sounds challenging enough, but not too overwhelming. So people like me are more likely to show up.

But I also know that even if you could anticipate the actual mileage. You can’t possibly anticipate what those miles will contain.

What I do know, is that if you ever see a sign that says this…

Glenwood Horse Trail sign

Just turn around. Just…don’t go there.

It doesn’t matter if that sign is at Day Creek trailhead. Or Bear Wallow trailhead. Or whatever other trailheads the worst trail crosses through. It’s going to be just that. The worst trail ever.

Yesterday we were doing Hellgate recon. Because one of us, who is obviously not me, is signed up to run Hellgate next month.

Hellgate runs through Glenwood Horse Trail. Apparently. Which is…appropriate. Given that Glenwood Horse Trail is the actual gate to actual hell.

People shouldn’t ever have to be on this trail. Horses certainly shouldn’t have to be. Horses carrying people on their backs absolutely should never have to be on this trail.

We were about a mile in when we stopped. Because we’d lost the trail a half mile back. And after a few minutes of looking around for orange blazes. Beautiful Beastie and Tiny Brazilian turned to me and said, “Sunshine?” Like I was gonna be the one to figure shit out.

Do we all understand the shit show you’re in the midst of when I am your best hope?

But do you see a trail here?

Glenwood Horse Trail - off course

At one point, we decided that we probably needed to cross the creek, by way of a downed tree log. So one by one, BB and GJB and TB just walked across the log.

Ok, but we don’t think that I’m going to be able to do that, though, right?

We know that I don’t contain that capability.

So I scooched. Slowly. Across the the log. While they reconned.

And when I finally made it to the other side.

“Yeah, there’s no trail over here.”


And since it had already taken us a good hour. To go 1.29 miles. I didn’t want to take another 30 minutes to butt scooch back across the log. So I just walked through the 10 degree creek water.

Only one mile in and my feet were cold and wet. Solid choice.

We decided we’d just go back and head up to Bobblett’s Gap. Because that shit is all connected somehow.

But as we were on our way back. BB saw some blazes that disappeared into another part of the creek.

And then BB saw this

Glenwood Horse Trail creek crossing

The international sign of the trail people.

So we walked through the creek. Again. Which is cool. Because my feet were just starting to thaw.

And then we headed up what was finally a legitimate actual trail.

And it was actually kind of pretty.

Glenwood Horse Trail

Except you couldn’t really enjoy the beauty. Because we were on fucking Glenwood.

And fucking Glenwood requires you to stare at the ground entire fucking time you’re on it.

I just…this trail is rocky. Ok? Except it’s not, like…you can’t anticipate the rocks? Because there will be a few feet of not rocks. And your feet will start to relax a bit. Which is the point at which the trail throws a whole shit ton more rocks in.

And it’s November. So all of the gorgeous foliage of last month is now on the ground.

Covering the fucking rocks.

And some moron at Masochist told BB that “the good thing about Hellgate is that the ups are runnable.”

And I’d like to know this moron. So I can smack him upside the head. And then make him run out and backs on Glenwood. Repeatedly. Until he stops saying dumb shit.

Dude, I don’t think even the downs are runnable.

And we were about two hours. And maybe three miles in at this point.

And I’m not entirely sure what happened next. Because I was deep into a conversation with TB. So I’m not real clear how we ended up like this.

Except that it was us. So of course we ended up in this place.

There was a point at which all I could see was a sheer drop. Into the James River.

(Obviously I didn’t know it was the James River at the time. But I knew it was a river. Which was all I needed to know.)

The next hour is a trauma-filled blur.

There were train tracks. And cement trucks. And abandoned buildings. And a ban on photography. Because I can’t afford a fine. Or jail.

But three hours. And 6.5 miles later. We were back at our cars.

And just about the time BB had me convinced to head on up to Bobblett’s Gap with her and TB. GJB had pulled this out.

That there is an easy bake hot dog maker. And it uses a tiny little light bulb to heat hot dogs to just above freezing.

And yes. Yes I chose adequate hot dogs over running up to Bobblett’s Gap.

Seriously. Y’all think I’m gonna choose extra miles? Over food??

Besides. My Strava may only say 6.5 physical miles. But my brain and body absolutely calculated that to be 20 emotional trauma miles.

So…anyway. Someone’s gonna need to go back and fully recon Glenwood with BB. Before Hellgate.

That someone shouldn’t be me. I’ll probably have my trauma counseling scheduled for that day.

I’ll claim any other recon portion that doesn’t have Glenwood in the name.

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