Friday, June 12, 2009

Cool training runs: The Priest and Three Ridges/Mauhar Loop

(Quatro, Marc, Michele and Joe atop the first ridge of Three Ridges with the Priest in the background)

This summer I hope to cover all my favorite trails while training for Grindstone 100 and then post the highlights here for folks to check out and discover on their own. Probably the most "bang for your buck" training run, the one that the big dogs like to train on for their speed records and western 100s, is the Priest and Three Ridges/Mauhar Loop. Last weekend I met up with a group of friends--Bill Gentry, Marc Griffin, Quatro Hubbard, Michele Harmon and Joe Clapper-- at the small parking area off Rte 56 east of Montebello, Virginia (next to the "Watch For Falling Rocks" sign) and we climbed the AT up the Priest, descended back down, and then crossed the road and the Tye River suspension bridge to ascend the AT up Three Ridges and continue on the blue blazed Mauhar Loop back to the car. On the way we took some excellent pics and ran into the Big Dog himself, David Horton, as he was training for his speed attempt of the Colorado Trail in July. Joe was training for his 3rd Hardrock 100 finish so we were happy to give him some company and take in this wonderful trail!

A few facts and helpful hints about this run:

1. Bring at least two 20 oz bottles for the 5-mile ascent up the Priest. It took us 1:30 to get to the shelter sign at a relaxed but consistent pace before descending hard back to the car. Total time for 10 miles: 2:45. You don't need your hydration pack for this climb unless that's all you have with you.

2. The Priest is the "warm-up" (at least in my mind) for the rest of the day. The big fun comes when climbing Three Ridges. The AT up the mountain has been re-routed through some glorious mountain laurel

and the singletrack is awesome. Bring at least 100 ounces for this 14-mile lollipop. I brought one 20 oz hand held and a 70 oz Nathan pack and wished I had another bottle. I also packed lots of snacks--the climb is long and tough to the summit---took us exactly 2 hours and we ran all the flats and runnable ups. At the top of Three Ridges, one can descend back to the car or continue on the AT to the blue blazed Mauhar loop (named after the Maupin and Harper shelters along the route).

We prefer this route, as it takes us by glorious waterfalls (and drinkable water) and adds more climbing. WARNING: Be sure to bring a PATC map 12 with you for exact route finding, as it is tricky to find the Mauhar trail and easy to keep running towards the Blue Ridge Parkway to Reeds Gap).

3. The total climb for both mountains was over 13,000 feet as found here on Marc Griffin's GPS. The 13,000+ of climb for 23 miles is waaaayyyy more than the 8,000 feet for a 25 mile loop of the Wild Oak Trail (a perennial favorite to be profiled here in the future). Wow! That's what I call a big bang for my buck!

4. Besides the awesome views, wicked climbs and hammer-worthy single track, my favorite part of the run is always the dip in the Tye River after finishing Three Ridges.

The day we ran the Tye was up high and very refreshing...a great place for an ice bath for the tired legs and cold beverage. You might get lucky as we did and meet some AT thru-hikers. The guys shared some trail magic with them and we all agreed that these climbs were beasts...but at least we didn't have to wear packs!!


Rick Gray said...

What a beautiful and fun weekend. The mountains are certainly beautiful this time of year. Cheers to what sounds like a tough, but fun couple of training runs. Rick

Kiry said...

Great photos and informative report! One of these days I'll get to run this!

Mike said...

Missing you and these trails!

Andrew Speidel said...

Hi Sophie,
That GPS map is cool!
Take care,