Hike at Bull Run: What a Difference a Month Makes. Crap.

On Sunday, April and I went out to Bull Run Mountain Conservancy for a hike. The fact that I kept saying, “Ya know, if you’d rather not go, I totally understand” probably meant that I was in desperate need of exercise. For the past month or so, I’ve been slacking off. At this point, I’m only running a couple of times a week, and I haven’t hiked with a weighted pack since September 16 (at Thompson WMA), or so my trusty blog reminds me. I still walk three to five miles a day, but I’m wanting for heavy cardio.

Jor’s loaded “practice” pack. It’s hard to see from this angle, but there are a couple of pounds of love handles wedged around the back side.

And in case there was any doubt in my mind that it matters at all, I loaded up a pack with a sleeping bag, 20 pounds worth of small weights, 2 ½ liters of water, and a few snacks. Best guess is that it all added to about 30 pounds. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget the two or three pounds I’ve gained in the interim, so that’ll bring us to about 33 pounds (oh come on, it has to count for something). We hiked I think less than 6 miles. And it hurt. More than usual. Heave. Sigh. Heavy breath.

When we got to the Bull Run parking lot (in Virginia, off I-66 at exit 40), there were no parking spaces, so I moseyed my car up to the dirt wash by the port-a-potty and made friends with the ditch. I’ve already mentioned the lazy factor; by then it was past 11am, so the crowds were no surprise.

Can you see the poetry? Isn’t the poetry beautiful?

What was a surprise was the autumn hue with which the trail was tinted. I hiked Bull Run several times this past summer, but I made a new friend in her over the weekend. Hiking along I was focusing on the way my feet felt in my trail runners, which I was testing out in lieu of hiking boots. Every once in awhile I would look up only to note how unrecognizable the woods were. The pleasant October sun peeked through the trees and shone upon the blanket of fallen leaves, highlighting the path with warm browns and oranges. (That’s about as poetic as I get, folks. Might as well call it a night while I’m ahead. That’s all for me! Oh wait, no, I haven’t finished my story.)

The reason I love Bull Run is that the system of trails offers an array of interesting historical elements. Not only is it it a well known U.S. Civil War site (at least according to my elementary school Virginia history class), but also European settlers have inhabited the land since the 1700s. So squirreling through the woods, one can see an old mill, a family cemetery, a mansion and icehouse, and a well-preserved battle trench not to mention the expansive view once you reach the highest point.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, I’ve provided some pictures from the hike with apt descriptions below.

We had to cross this raging river, which is clearly not for the faint of heart. We barely escaped with our lives!

Beginning in the 1700s, Chapman’s Mill was used to process wheat, corn, Soylent Green…you name it.

This is the site of the Chapman family icehouse, which was an igloo-like structure that settlers used to build for their homes during the “Little Ice Age” of the 1700s. Either that or it’s where they kept meat in “cold storage” with ice from the river. You pick.

As I’m sure you can tell from the last name, the Chapmans originated in Egypt, which reveres cats. Hence this cemetery to honor the family’s deceased pets.

In case you were hoping for a legitimate zen moment…

During the Civil War, in a fit of anxiety, the Union generals paced back and forth during a contentious strategy session, effectively wearing this trench into the landscape.


























When all was said and done, I probably burned about 1,200 calories (according to the calorie calculator I found with The Ever Wise Google, and The Google never leads me astray), and I felt much better, as is usually the case with exercise and fresh air. And when I feel much better, I get in the mood to celebrate. So as not to ruin this mood, I commemorated the hike with two cupcakes and some froyo. I know you may be thinking that eating sweets defeated the point of the hike. But the cupcakes looked so lonely; I just wanted to make them feel loved. And trust me, they were loved.

Meandering on,



18 thoughts on “Hike at Bull Run: What a Difference a Month Makes. Crap.

  1. In prep for your big hike, you might want to start doing side leg lifts and clam exercises (lay on side, knees bent, heels together, lift top knee) to strengthen your butt and hips. Seems very Jane Fonda workout I know but it could help you fight off hiking injuries. Lot’s of hikers are lumbar dominant (walk with your back muscles) instead of propelling with the gluts. Good luck.

  2. Pingback: Do these trail runners make me look fat? « My Meandering Trail

  3. Pingback: Weekend Hike – Halloween (and Frankenstorm) Edition « My Meandering Trail

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