Even though February is the shortest month, it certainly seems to last forever. As I wait for the daffodils to arrive, however, a gift arrived! A gift only Mother Nature could give to us winter weary Marylanders. (seriously, our winter has been incredibly mild except for that outburst of sheer crazy a few weeks ago, so I don’t really know why it feels like we need to rush on to Spring …but it does!!) Anyway, a gift! A weekend that tempted us with delightfully spring like weather. The birds were singing, the ice was melting, rivers flooding, and I ran for the hills.
I jumped the gun a bit and headed out on Friday when the weather only hinted at warmth that would not come until Saturday. The smell of fresh mud permeated my nostrils as soon as Sidekick Pauli and I exited the car at Worthington Farm, part of Monocacy National Battlefield. However, heading up Brooks Hill we found snow and ice. Not enough for traction devices on my boots, but enough to require picking our way along at a snail’s pace until we got about half way up the hill. Then the trail was dry!
Of course, we again encountered the tricky stuff on the way down, but the day was just gorgeous. You know when the breezes are not quite as chilling and almost feel warm? That is how it was! We would be chilly, then rounding a bend in the trail meet with a warmish puff of air. Very exciting! After coming down Brooks Hill, we rounded Ford’s Loop by the Monocacy river. Super gooey, suck your boots off muddy! The river had just recently receded into its proper banks and left debris and mud on the trail. A sure sign of Spring!!!
So that was fun. Saturday came the real delight though! 65 degrees!!!!!! Wazooo! Oh my gawd, let’s all go hiking!!! I had errands in the morning, so I set off for Cunningham Falls State Park at about 2:30 pm. Parking my car at the Catoctin Furnace on the east side of route 15, Sidekick Pauli and I followed the Catoctin Furnace Trail through the woods and over the pedestrian bridge to pick up the Catoctin Trail up to Bob’s Hill overlook.
This is not a long hike, but a steep one! After crossing the pedestrian bridge follow the creek to the Catoctin Trail. It is a right turn up the hill and steep right from the get go! The trail was slushy, but not terribly difficult to maneuver. The trail gives hikers nice breaks between the steep sections, leveling out for awhile where one can meander along as if no effort was needed at all to climb to such a height. Then, of course, just as you get comfortable, the trail heads back up again!
This was the perfect place to hike on this Spring preview day! I only saw a handful of other hikers (and I bet Shenandoah NP was packed!)
But was I done with this weekend???? NOOOOOOOO! Even though it rained off and on come Sunday, I was not going to stay inside. Okay, well, I was…but then as I came out of Joanne’s Fabrics down on 40, I glanced at the mountains. Their summits were so beautifully draped in fog that I could not resist! I turned down 40 headed for Gambrill State Park hoping to walk through the woods with the mist swirling about me.
I was ecstatic, just magical.
What an absolute wonderful gift this weekend has been. Almost March! Hike on!