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March 4, 2011

Waites Run to VA/WV 55/US 48

      This is an 8.9 mile section of the Tuscarora County Line Trail on North Mountain, part of the Great Eastern Trail, section 3a.  In the middle of this section is the Gerhard Shelter, where we had lunch.  With me on this hike were David Frye, Susan Mast, and my dog Sid.  The temperature rose from the high 20s to about 50.  It was sunny and fairly dry, although Waites Run had lots of water running. 
      I had hiked part of this trail in 1974, and although I knew where I had gone, I recognized very little I saw this day.  I had remembered picking a lot of blueberries and seeing Fragrant Sumac, which looks a lot like Poison Ivy.  I found the blueberry plants grow only on the southeast side of the crest, and the trail stays to the northwest side of the crest until the last 0.9 mile to Gerhard Shelter. 
      Road signs were adequate for the access and shuttle.  There is a "Tuscarora Trail" sign along SR 55/US 48 at the crossing, and a separate "County Line Trail" sign close by. 
      Some observations:

  • The trail is well graded, fairly wide, and easy to follow.  I would say it is one of the best sections of the Tuscarora Trail I have hiked, in general trail condition.  
  • There were a number of blowdowns, mostly in the middle of the hike.  There were more south of the Gerhard Shelter, but the ones north of it were bigger.  I kicked and tossed most of the fallen branches and loose rocks out of the trail.  
  • Since much of the mountain has limited underbrush, there was not as much of it reaching into the trail.  The parts near the shelter had some ingrowth, especially north of the shelter.  
  • The blazes looked old at the south end of the section, and need repainting.  
  • The high point of the section at mile 3.8 has a stack of rocks with a passage through it, perhaps you could call it a "rock house".  This should be mentioned in the Guide to the section.  
  • The Gerhard Shelter does not have a picnic table or a privy (that we could find).  The Register for it was new, so I couldn't get a sense of how often it is visited.  Only one entry (February 18 & 19) since the initial Overseer entry.  
  • There is a beautiful south of the shelter with open views east and west, much like on the North Mountain Trail of sections 3d & 3e.  
  • I saw a big Poison Ivy vine on a tree by the trail, although I did not recognize any on the ground. 


October 20, 2012

      On this date, I repeated the hike in the opposite direction. With me were Nancy Ruggles & her dog Aslan, Chad Churchman, Christa Neher, and my dog Sid. Fall colors were spectacular. Along the ridge top near SR 55, there were lots of Hickory trees with brilliant yellow leaves, and further south, descending from the ridge, there were lots of bright colors from Maple and Sassafras trees. One difference from the 3/4/2011 hike was that a short distance from SR 55 a kiosk with 2 benches has been built. The kiosk has National Forest and some trail information. 
       Also, we did find the privy at the Gerhard Shelter. 
       There were a few places where blackberry plants were growing into the trail.  I had to cut some back just to get the group through.  These patches were close to the shelter, north and south. 

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