A Trail Dame woman I hike with has claimed that I am magic when it comes to scheduling hikes in perfect weather. Well, folks, my streak came to an end in recent weeks! Two hikes canceled for thunderstorms. ⛈ Planning the perfect day to lead a hike doesn’t always work out…and this week I needed to reschedule a hike to last night…a sunset hike at Worthington Farm, part of Monocacy National Battlefield, in Frederick, Maryland.
Oh, but the weather gods shined on me once again! The weather was absolutely golden. The sun cast a glow over the fields and forest of late afternoon. The temperatures were delightfully mild, as well. We didn’t even break a sweat on this one!
We left the big house heading up Brooks Hill. There is usually a good view over Baker Valley at the top, but as we rounded the last turn in the path to the high point, we we met with a big green wall of corn.
Now, I can’t look at a field of corn without stepping into it…like crossing into a different world. Obviously, the Dames had to comply! 🌽😄🌽
Afterwards, we walked down along the river, before returning to the big house to wait for sunset. It did not disappoint. This is a wonderful place to watch the day end. We sat around the picnic table as the sun dropped lower and lower behind the distant ridges of the Frederick watershed. And then it was gone. The crickets began their rhythmic chorus and I gave a deep sigh. Hike on!
Return to section hiking! Return to the big mountains in Virginia!
First, it is a tragedy that the only time teachers, like me, get to go on vacation is during the hot-ass summer. It is beastly hiking weather, but here we are!
In Mother Nature’s favor, it was blissfully not hot for most of our weekend and I gave thanks many times over for that. But hiking up 2000 feet after driving 3.5 hours to meet my hiking gal pals, including Akela with her trusty hike-tastic mini-van, then taking said van another 45 minutes down the road to the trailhead, was a hard day’s work.
I was excited! It has been a while since we had all hiked together. I was ready for a weekend of releasing all the toxic crap that has been weighing me down. Yes, a complete reset would do. So, up the mountain we plodded leaving Long Mountain Wayside behind. WAIT…is that what the mountain was called…Long Mountain? That would be on point!
On the way up I pulled my motivation from first day excitement. That was about to completely deplete when we stumbled onto Cole (Cold) Mountain. Oh my goodness…total replenishment!!!!!!!!!! Those views, that meadow, the wildflowers! Oh! Oh! Oh! What a treasure!
After that it was all downhill, literally speaking, not figuratively! 😏 We camped at Hog Camp Gap, a lovely meadow with old apple trees and oak trees. The water source was excellent and not many campers on Friday night which surprised and delighted me! Honestly, that whole dig a cat hole thing to go to the bathroom can be a little tricky in a crowded camp. Yeah, I know you can feel me here! 😀 😀
The next day we started with a climb out of the gap and it was up and down all day! This section does not mess around!
There were more rewards for our hard work …and blessed trail creators, thank you for the interspersed moments of pure trail bliss along this trek! The wildflowers were in bloom, gentle cool breezes lifted the stray hair out of my eyes, and the buzz of bees was the white noise I didn’t know I needed.
We pulled into the Seeley-Woodworth shelter early. I found a nice spot under an oak tree and proceeded to put up the tent, get water, and cook dinner…and 2:30 pm! The spring here is still flowing and we didn’t have any trouble gathering water regardless of our type of filter.
There was a boisterous group of college age folks…and I am guessing they were in an outdoor club as there were many of them. We had passed them earlier, spotting them on top of a huge boulder, and I thought, “awe, look at them out here laughing, loving, and enjoying life!” They finally pooped out around 11 pm like a bunch of worn out puppies. They were a cute bunch and I found them quite amusing…until I passed a bowl with remains of the their food in it right beside the trail the next morning as we hiked out. Little feckers! Be Bear AWARE!!
Day 3 started with another gorgeous meadow walk with views for miles. Then it was up, up, up to Spy Rock…and no picture I took does that place justice! You need to hike up there yourself!!
Back to bears…I spotted one on our way up to The Priest. I loved that! No pics, but what a beautiful site! 🐻
Of course, I would’ve missed the bear if that hill had been easy. Third day on the elevation profile looked not so bad. In reality, it was a “head-down, one foot in front of the other, every woman for herself” kind of day. 😂 A very long uphill to the Priest. The “processional” it was dubbed by one of my hiking companions. 😄 and Whew…the heat and humidity was on. We arrived at the shelter and had just enough time to get our tents up before it started raining. Not a deluge of rain, but always nice to be able to stay mostly dry while backpacking! The camp area is a fairy landscape and goes back forever. A mossy creek, rhododendron bushes, big boulders, and fog rolling through periodically created a magical space.
Summary of day 3: I fail at photos, but win at persistence and sheer grit. 🥵 No privy at The Priest and water source is low, but scoopable…if you use a pump you won’t have any issues. If you scoop, you should be fine, as well, as there are some small pools.
The last day we hiked up for a little bit, inhaling and exhaling deeply at the Priest summit as we were above a sea of active morning fog with sun rise lending some extra sparkle.
Then, back on the trail, it was down. And down. And down. I really wanted to ask Akela how much farther (long before it made any sense to do so). 😄 So, I held it in until my feet and thighs were screaming, ASK HER YOU IDIOT! 😂😂😂 I asked. She asked if I wanted the truth.
Nice one Akela…real smooth. 😂
Answer – 0.4 miles more…I pushed on. I did it. I can still walk today. Huzzah! Hike on!
Oh, a hike leader’s lament! Over the last several weekends the Mid-Atlantic has had some questionable weather. This led to the shuffling and rescheduling of hiking events. Ugh…when is there ever enough free time for hiking?
Whelp, I looked at my calendar…classes end May 13, semester wrap up is the following week, then back to prepping the house for the floor guy (not to mention summer classes). Hmmm 🤔
All hikes were rescheduled to the week that is ending today…and WHAT.A.WEEK! A whirlwind of work and hiking and everything else! 😄
Tuesday found the Maryland Dames and me at New Germany State Park out in the far western portion of Maryland. Friday we scampered over Catoctin Mountain Park, and today, Saturday, we had a Meet & Greet for new Dames!
New Germany was an absolute fantasy land. Bright green moss covered forests, thick with towering hemlock trees, beckoned while giant ferns unfurled, spiraling dramatically. Trillium, Gaywings, Soloman’s Seal, and May Apple blossoms burst upwards through the mulchy forest floor. It was spectacular!
Catoctin Mountain Park was a different, but still delicious, experience! It rained just before the start of our hike and the scent of the mountain woods was fresh and soothing. Moss covered boulders, bright green foliage, and a variety of wildflowers and fungi kept the hike interesting…not to mention an unexpected Tornado watch! We skedaddled soon after that alert. 😄
A dang near perfect Spring day! I went out hiking this morning with the Trail Dames down by 15-Mile Creek in Little Orleans, Maryland.
What a pleasure! We strolled down to the old Indigo Tunnel, on the C&O Canal alongside a sparkling Potomac River, taking in Bluebells, Redbud Trees, and a variety of other delights.
Then we looped back down on the Western Maryland Rail Trail, which took us further down the canal in the opposite direction. This was easy walking on a paved surface, which left us to ooooooo and ahhhhhh at all of Spring’s surprises! The Dogwood blossoms were spectacular. The Paw Paw blossoms made a close second!
There were also many wildflowers which I could not name…except for this one…
The Columbine was growing all over the sheer rocky walls of the hillside. What a stunner!
I felt absolutely giddy walking down the trail today! Mother Nature brought her A-game and I am here for it. 😄
We gave our sincere gratitude by picking up trash along our five mile route. Love your Mother! Hike on!
Started the week with a snowstorm and ended with a warm Spring day! Crazy and I am here for it 1000%! 😄
If you are getting hammered with snow or wildfires, I am truly sorry. For those of us in the mid-Atlantic, IT’S AFTER 8 PM AND STILL WARM!! GO OUTSIDE! 🌷
I made a swift exit after my last meeting earlier today to head to Rocky Gap State Park for a walk.
The redbud trees are almost in bloom, along with many other plants I cannot identify. It is always a pleasure to be present for the changing of the season. Everything will bloom, then go full green almost overnight. Don’t blink!
I hope you can get out this weekend. Oh hey…Take a bag and pick up trash along the way to celebrate Earth Day! Hike on!
How in the heck did this trail get its name? Anyone??? 🤔
This short trail, 2.1 miles, in Rocky Gap State Park in Allegany County, Maryland can be combined with other trails in the park to add distance. Today, a hike leader in training and I scouted it for an upcoming Trail Dames hike.
It is a great trail with a few small hills, a ridge walk, and stream crossing.
Snow flurries and a brisk wind had us moving pretty quickly down the trail today. I pointed out two widow makers and we discussed trail features to point out to new hikers who may sign up for this upcoming event.
On our last stretch, I caught the eye of a deer and just about jumped out of my skin. 😂 Not a live deer, sadly. The leader in training didn’t notice until I pointed it out…next time we will practice looking up and around…a hike leader needs to be aware of surroundings as they lead folks down the trail. 😊
As we left the park, we tracked down a ranger and reported the deer carcass since it was right on the trail and staring down unsuspecting hikers! 😄 Then we skedaddled down to Puccini’s for a wonderful lunch! Hike on!
Before the pandemic, I would organize an annual winter backpacking trip for the Maryland Trail Dames. We would hike to the Ed Garvey Shelter on the Appalachian Trail, set up camp, then continue to Weverton the next day.
After missing out on this fun event for two years, I was delighted to put this up on the hiking board for January 2022. The Dames were excited to shiver together once again! 😄
But bad weather intervened…fast forward to an early Spring shiver, instead! I was secretly pleased to not be camping out in January. It was 17 degrees one year and even with good layers it was still cold! Especially when nature’s calls at 2:00 AM! 🥶
This weekend we had delightful weather…praise!!! We met at Gathland State Park around noon. I know, I know…I was really taking a gamble with parking at that time of day. I crossed my fingers and went with it. Happy to report we all found a parking space. I was grateful!
It was a lovely hike to the shelter. We had a few newbies with us, but I only got asked once “do you know how much further until we get to the shelter?” I call that a win!
We were surprised there were already several folks at the shelter when we arrived. And with complete disregard for hiker etiquette, they had put up tents on both the first and second level of the shelter. Ergh. We were tenting and had no need of the shelter. However, that whole tent in the shelter is a big no…especially at a shelter like Ed Garvey, which is pretty popular all year round.
Sure enough, it was a mob scene on Saturday night. I am glad we had gotten there early enough to pick the better tent sites. Some folks camped down along the trail as all sites were gone when they rolled in later in the evening.
***better = still slanted, but I managed to stay on my sleeping pad all night***
About 4:00 AM we got rain, just on and off, nothing much. It continued while we packed up and hiked out. Just a few drops, not enough to make us or our gear wet. Thankful is an understatement. Some of our newbies had gotten cold overnight…rain on top of that could have made an uncomfortable hike into a truly miserable one for them. 😕
It was great to get back to backpacking with the Dames. Looking forward to planning more fun adventures for this group! Hike on!
Today was quite an exciting weather day here in western Maryland! A tornado warning had me trying to herd two cats into the bathroom until the warning expired. That was a ridiculous five minutes of my life that I am not getting back! 😂 They had already found their own hidey-holes…so I sat in the bathroom with the door open … in case they got bored and wanted to join me. 😄
They didn’t…warning expired…we had another band of some truly ferocious thunderstorms roll through and then the sun came out again. And it smelled delicious outside. So, I finished the day by walking in the woods behind my house.
Ahhhhhh…the scent of wet, fresh, mulchy, leafy forest after a good rain. Amazing! I walked slowly and with intention. Hoping to find …??? I have no idea really. And when I don’t know what I am looking for, well, I tend to find all kinds of things!
Like this pockmarked rock. This is a lot of eroded holes! I sent pics to my nephew, Izzy, the geologist, for further info. Super curious…and if he tells me it’s just an old piece of concrete…ugh…I’ll be crushed. 😕
I also found some Spring flowers and some kind of cool green grassy stuff growing up out of a mossy spot. I know you are applauding my detailed description and really don’t need the added pic…but here it is … just in case! 😄
Oh, and this little slug living his best mountain life!
Finally, I stopped to look out over the southeastern ridges. B-bye stormy skies! Enjoy the trip eastward!
I trudged back up the hill to my house, poured myself a cup of coffee, and found one of my cats is now, indeed, bored enough to sit on my lap. I am truly blessed! Hike on!
Kicking off another Spring Break hike with blue skies, frigid temperatures to start, and, this time, a hike more strenuous than any I have done in a while. I was excited to return to this section of the Appalachian Trail between US522 in Front Royal to VA55. I was also a little anxious. Would my legs hold up? I was fairly certain they would, but I double-checked that I was packing ibuprofen. 😀
I met my hiking partner “Somewhere” at the VA55 trailhead. Wow, it was cold! I thought I would ditch a layer before hiking, but backtracked on that decision quickly as the cold, cold wind reached my innermost layer. Brrrrr! We shuttled down to 522, then set out a brisk pace. I am thankful for the body’s ability to warm itself! It was freaking cold for the first 20 minutes, then we warmed up nicely as a result of 1) the sun rising above the ridge, and 2) climbing the first hill. It was welcomed warmth!
This stretch had two climbs that reminded me that I need to get out on the trail more consistently, but they were doable.
*Translation – I handled them with only slight discomfort.* 😀
Thankfully, because I would have been appalled to literally fall over in exhaustion on this hike. Perhaps my ridiculous pride kept me upright? 😀 😀 Nah…It was a lovely hike. Bunches of Bloodroot pushing up through last season’s leaves greeted us on that first uphill. The lower canopy was greening and the trail itself was easy going for the first five or so miles. The only tricky part of this section is the hill just before reaching the train tracks near VA55. That hill is an eroded mess. That was the last hill for us and I was glad of it!
The day had added thrill when I met up with my first thru-hiker this season, “Backstroke”, a physicist who has just taken a job with the government. He caught up with us as we were headed to the Jim & Molly Denton shelter. We let him pass, but then walked a piece with him. We discussed teaching as we strolled along.
*insert…I know he probably slowed his roll a bit to walk with us, but even so, I was pleased to be able to keep up the pace and talk at the same time* 😀
He seemed intensely curious about teaching and is motivated to explore it as his career as a physicist unfolds. We had lunch with Backstroke at the shelter, then he was on his way! If you see him on the trail, be sure to say hi…he is super friendly and great conversationalist!
I look forward to the day when I chance to meet up with you along the AT! I will keep working these legs of mine…See you out there! 🙂 Hike on!
What’s in a name anyway? By calling it Spring are we hopeful to manifest that first lovely breeze that caresses us with oh, so much yummy warm love? Well, I think one of you has dropped the ball on the manifestation homework because it is still winter.
I never liked group projects… 😀
Today was not a good day to hike, but I went anyway. It was cold. It was windy. It was, at times, snowing…fast and furious. Did I question my sanity? To be honest, a little. But, oh, how exciting the world felt! It was intoxicating and I could not deny myself this opportunity to see Lake Habeeb in the drama of this windy, snowy day! Delayed gratification is not something I am really good at…so let’s go!
I parked by the Amphitheater and started the Lakeside Loop by heading towards the campground first. That side of the lake always seems to take for-e-ver to me with all the ins and outs of the lake. I figured by the time I passed the dam I would be looking forward to the straightaway that passes the Casino and Beach. I love the lake, but sometimes the lack of variety in the trail around the lake … not boring…just gets monotonous for me. Oh good lord, I sound like an ass…I am not really that hard to please!!! 😀
Oh gosh! It was such a fun hike! When I pulled into the parking area the wind was blowing snow so hard that my car was moving side to side! I decided to wait for the squall to pass spending some quality time eating my sandwich. The squall pushed on and I headed out under deep blue skies peeking out from behind gray low hanging clouds. The wind was brisk, stinging my cheeks with unforgiving iciness. I zipped up my coat ALL the way to the top and marched on!
In the campground area, bushes were greening up, creating a sweet Spring-like corridor. Periwinkle cascaded on either side and an occasional bunch of daffodils brightened up the dark shadows under the bramble.
Meanwhile, the wind picked up blowing back the hood of my coat (good thing I wore a winter hat)! Looking up, I found a few snowflakes drifting through the trees. Then, LITERALLY two seconds later, it was like someone dumped a bucket of snow … several thousand buckets, actually…from the west end to the east end of the lake! I could not even see to the middle of the lake, when I had been able to see all the across to the other side and beyond just a few moments before. It was wild! The snow stuck in my hair, blew into my eyes, and plastered my whole front side in no time! 😮
Just as quickly, it was gone. The sun came back out, the snow on my clothes disappeared, and on I went. That happened two more times while on the trail and it really was such a joy to stand there and let it take over. Of course, I was never in any danger…this was not a blizzard…just a passing squall. 🙂
Winter refusing to go out without a few more words, Spring refusing to give in to a very pushy, rude Winter. I think Spring is going to win eventually, but for now, in Allegany County, Maryland, it is still Winter! 😀 Hike on!