I’d been wanting to try this out for some time. Given that I’ve been more focused on the MST, I’ve been neglecting some of the other trails in these parks. Some of these trails I hadn’t run on in over 7 years. When I was packing up for the run, I noticed all of my filters were completely clogged up. A little research made it look like there was water at the parking loop at the end of Cole Mill Rd. as well as the Cole Mill access to Bobbit’s Hole.
Once, I got out to the park I parked at the Park Office and started at the sign for the Few’s Ford access. The weather was amazing, nice and sunny, but a crisp coolness. I started out with the trails on the north side of the park. I took the Buckquarter trail to the Ridge Trail so that I could knock out the Knight Trail. As this was my first time out on the Knight trail, I realized that a portion of the Piedmont trail also fell within the confines of the park so I touched all three gates out there. Backtracking to the Ridge Trail, I did the Shakori/Ridge loop counter clockwise, then back tracked back up to the Fieldstone Trail. When I hit the Holden Mill Trail, I foolishly headed uphill and completed the loop, then headed back to the bridge. I had to do a quick out and back to the Buckquarter trail before returning to Few’s Ford via the riverside trail. I didn’t know if the trails to/from the Piper Cox House counted, so I did them anyways. Then I followed the riverside trial to the Cox Mountain trail suspension bridge. I decided to do the Cox Mountain Trail loop counter clockwise because I’d never run the loop in that direction, which I feel was a mistake. I also tacked on the Fanny’s Ford loop as a figure 8. After crossing back over the bridge I finished with the Eno Trace Trail loop. At this point, I’d done almost 15 mi and I stepped into the bathrooms at the parking loop and to refill my water. Since I thought I’d be filling up again in ~10 mi, I filled my bladder to about 1.6L and didn’t refill my body bottle.
At this point, it was dealer’s choice on how I was going to get to the MST. I decided to follow Matt’s first route, along Cole Mill Rd and Pleasant Green Rd. to the MST Segment 10 Trailhead. Once I got there I took the MST to the Eno Quarry and looped the quarry on the Eno Quarry Trail. Did the Cabeland Trail loop clockwise with the short out-n-back to the parking lot (which I hadn’t been to since I’d given up triathlons back in 2016). I followed the MST to Cole Mill Rd. Thinking I’d be refilling my water, I made sure to drink as much as I could. At Cole Mill Rd. I climbed up the bridge embankment to Cole Mill Rd., crossed the bridge, and scrambled down the erosion protection rock field. I went under the bridge to knock out the Pea Creek Trail loop and Dunnagan Trail loops. Then I headed back under the bridge to the Cole Mill Trail. I took the trail counter clockwise to hit the bathroom and grab some water. When I got there, I saw the bathroom was a pit toilet and the water fountain was no-longer functional!!! The internal working of the fountain had been removed, but this was not visible from the Google street view I used to “verify the water”.
The lack of water was a tough blow mentally. I thought I had about 10 mi left with only a few sips of water left as I was heading into the hottest part of the day. So I slowed way down, hoping to avoid over sweating. I was still sweating pretty well from my forehead so I knew I was hydrated well enough. The next mile was mostly downhill so I ran it slowly, and then run-walked a bit along the river back to Cole Mill Rd. Once I was back across the river, I checked how much distance I had left, since I knew I only had to run the MST to guess road and do the 1.5 mi Pump Station loop. When I saw it was only about 5 miles, I felt much more confident pushing the pace. So I finished strong.
It was a beautiful day to be out there and I was so happy I got the chance to do this. It was cool to finally finish out the few trails I had never run before (Knight/Piedmont, part of Shakori, part of Ridge, and the non-MST portion of the Pump House Loop) as well as hitting up some trails that I hadn’t run in years (mainly any side trail not on the MST). I was starting to feel the effects of lack of water towards the end, my lips were dry and my hands were clammy, but I was still sweating from my forehead so it wasn’t severe. But I still walked the 0.8 mile up Guess Rd to the BP to rehydrate and wait for my Lyft ride to show up. When I got in, I saw on the GPS that I was only 6 miles from my car. To think I ran 35+ miles and walked almost another and still ended up only 6 miles away made me laugh.
Good work! The Cole Mill faucets seem to stay winterized longer than needed. As of 5/6 they were working.