Oh boy, to say we’ve had a spell of rain in the Mid-Atlantic would be a half-truth. I feel for all those hikers out there on an AT thru-hike or section hike. They just haven’t had many dry days in the last month.
When backpacking I seem to be able to dig deep and splash on when inundated with the wet stuff. Flashing back to my section hike of the Georgia section of the AT…8 out of 10 days it rained. Most memorable rain event was being stuck in the Tray Mountain Shelter during the derecho in June 2013…
As a day hiker, I seem to lack that same willpower to hike when raining. So I have been literally crawling in my own skin as rain continued to pour down over the last several weeks. There were windows of opportunity, during which I would hurriedly scamper down a trail to get back to my car before the next sky dump occurred. Most of the time I’ve been lucky!
And then, out came the sun! We got a bonified reprieve today, huzzah! So even though I’d awakened with a migraine, I remained optimistic, popped some meds and took off for Catoctin Mountain Park.
I parked at the Visitor Center, then headed off down the trail towards Headquarters. I planned a loop hike to Chimney Rocks and Thurmont Vista.
My feet stumbled a bit on the rocks as my brain still struggled with bad migraine juju. As I rounded the corner at Headquarters and headed uphill my feet got in sync with what my brain was telling them to do and the going got much easier despite going up, up, up!
Oh, and the Mountain Laurel, wow! It was abundantly flowering. Just lovely!
Once on the ridge, I was able to breathe deeply the scents of a forest made more delightfully pungent after many days of hard rain. Inhale…ahhhhhhhhh! New blowdowns had exposed bug-ridden interiors and the birds voiced their happiness with delirious abandon. A glorious morning to be alive!
I took a sit down at Chimney Rocks. Shedding my boots, I made myself comfy leaning into the coolness of my stone seat. Getting lost in the blue of the sky while letting my thoughts filter through my head like the parade of puffy, white clouds making their way across the sky was a luxury. I had no idea how long I sat there, and didn’t care. I got up when I got up!
The time at which I left Chimney Rocks was apparently the perfect time to continue on down the trail as I passed seven hikers headed for the spot I had vacated.
Making a quick pass of Wolf Rocks, I headed off in the direction of Thurmont Vista.
At a fork in the trail, I passed a large group of hikers headed to Wolf Rocks…so glad I was going against traffic! I had Thurmont Vista all to myself!
Down the hill to the next Trail sign. “Visitor Center 1 mile, Hog Rock 1.5 miles” Decision time. Big Loop (8.5 miles) or Little Loop (5 miles)? I looked at weather app on my phone…hmmm, possible thunderstorms at 2 pm (time was 1:52 pm). I looked at the sky…some darker clouds over to the west. I looked at the trees, breezes picking up and some trees had flipped their leaves.
Well, I wasn’t going to push my luck after such a delightful morning! Here’s to getting to the car without having to outrun a thunderstorm! Hike on!
Nice writing, Boob. You can really make the trail sound inviting. As a fellow headache sufferer…I feel your pain, and admire you for getting out there in spite of it. I hope you’ve had a reprieve from it!
Thank you! And headaches…ergh!
I have never hiked up that way, but have heard of chimney rocks. You make it sound special. It is definitely on my list.
It’s a great hike…well, all hikes at Catoctin are awesome, actually! 🤓 I was up there doing a different loop earlier this week and even though the weather was hot/humid it was still a beautiful experience!
We have some amazing hikes down here in SW VA too.
I am headed down there this fall to do the Channels and possibly Grayson Highlands, if time! Really looking forward to it!