I had the John P. Saylor Route on my list for quite some time. However, with race training and life stuff, I never had quite the right window of opportunity to get out there and run this route. This was also partially because the trail marking and maintenance is a little lacking. But with a good weather window and unseasonably lower temps in the mid to upper 40s, decked out with my new Coros Apex, I was able to run the route with confidence.
In the spirit of running this route the same way it was established by Bob Stewart, I started and finished the route at the junction between the two major loops, running the larger 12 mile loop clockwise first. Boggy! I was running this sight unseen and the first mile was very wet and muddy, with deep 4 wheeler tracks rutting out long sections of the trail. We had recently gotten a week of steady rain and heavy downpours, and since the terrain I was running in was an upper elevation bog to begin with, I had a suspicion that this was going to be a wet one. The trail cleared up into fast single track by mile 3 and I was in my element for the remainder of the loop.
At the end of the first loop I crossed a creek at the junction on a really cool suspension bridge and ran counterclockwise on the smaller loop. This loop was not as maintained and there were sections on the trail where new undergrowth and small trees were retaking their stolen ground. Oddly enough, I kind of liked the feeling of running through a section of untamed forest trail. The forest felt wild and in control, making it more technical. The final leg of the loop ran along the creek in low growing ground cover. The trail was barely visible due to the low traffic volume. Crossing the suspension bridge again, I made it back to the junction where I started and finished the route.