A Series of Unfortunate Weekend Weather Events

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!

Fern spores
Trillium
Gaywings

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. 😄

Wild Geraniums
Bellwort

And finally, the Meet & Greet at Monocacy National Battlefield, Worthington Farm! A super morning meeting a few new Dames! Worth every bit of my Saturday morning!

Dametastic morning at WorthingtonFarm!

It was a busy week…but overscheduled hiking events? I’m in! Hike On!

Loop at 15-Mile Creek

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.

15-Mile Creek meets the Potomac River

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.

Indigo Tunnel

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!

Dogwood blossoms
PawPaw blossoms

There were also many wildflowers which I could not name…except for this one…

Red Columbine

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!

Pack it out!

Black Snake Monkey Head Trail -Rocky Gap SP

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.

💚 All the moss! 💚

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!

Weekend with the Dames!

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.

It looks like a flat site…right?

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!

Afternoon Walking in the Woods Behind My House

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!

AT – VA: US522 to VA55 The Mountains are Waking!

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!

Spring, Winter, Spring, Winter, …, Spring?

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!

AT – MD Back to Annapolis Rock

I question my judgment at scheduling a hike so early that I had to leave my house at 6 AM. This is the first day of my Spring Break and just what the heck was I thinking??? It was dark, it was cold, … , it was the FIRST DAY OF BREAK…hadn’t I just been telling folks how exhausted I was and how I couldn’t wait to sleep in? Honestly…ugh.

But got up I did. Coffee – yes, coffee again – yes. Out the door at 6 AM, promptly!

I-68 east to I-70 south, then up Rt 40 to the Annapolis Rock trail head. Surprise…I remember why I scheduled it so early. To avoid the parking lot fiasco…and I was successful! I was the third car into the lot, huzzah!

My fellow Trail Dames showed up soon after and off we went up the mountain. What a glorious morning! Blue skies and sun pouring down on us. Oh, and I was very impressed with the trail work that has happened in my absence from this stretch of trail. Nice work on the grading and stone placement, PATC Trail Maintainers! Absolutely beautiful!

Soaking up the Sun!

We chatted amicably about some exciting trips that our dames have planned for summer. One is headed to the 100-mile Wilderness in Maine! My plans are more sedate…heading down to complete the section with the Priest in Virginia. All of us are so pleased that we are post – pandemic and can start adventuring further afar to hike.

Arriving at Annapolis Rock, we found the place deserted. Perfect! I sat out on a rock and ate my sub that I had picked up on my way in at Sheetz. That is one VERY conveniently located Sheetz…and it has a drive-thru. You’re welcome. 😀

The nasty old man winter wind picked up while I sat there munching away. I stared that wind down and pretended it was a lovely spring day…until I devoured the last delicious bite of my sub. Then I picked up my stuff and scrambled back into the trees.

We saw several folks headed up as we were headed down. The skies by this time were covered in heavy gray clouds and the wind was picking up. Sorry for them, happy for us! Oooooooo…and we found our first Bloodroot sighting!! Hike on!

Bloodroot!

Good people make a Good life!

As I start this post the Beatles song “with a little help from my friends” is rolling inside my head. This year, more than any before, I am appreciating friendship. The people in my life who I look forward to being with, laughing with, and sharing with. Each inspires me in little ways that enrich my moments spent plodding through life. And plod I do!

So, this is an appreciation post for all the people who are still hanging with me here in the Spring of 2022.

OF course I need to include my partner here. But she is a private person…so I won’t say much except that life would not be as fun without her. She is also a teacher and there is no one else who gets my shizzle like she does. She also swings a mean hammer and paint brush. House renovations would go much slower and be a LOT more expensive without her mechanical prowess! ❤ ❤ ❤

No particular order of importance…but I need to put D in Damascus in here because this post would not be happening without her. Over the last few years, she has become a wonderful photographer and decided to start her own blog to showcase her photos. She has no idea how this has inspired me to get back to writing…but here we are! D is also my go-to colleague at work when everything feels like it is falling apart, so that is a bonus! I post one of her lovely photos here … so please ooooo and ahhhhhh over it for at least thirty seconds! 🙂

You can find more of D’s work over at https://dyagodich.wixsite.com/photos

And then there are my Dames…what would I do without my hiking gals?

Queen V brings her jokes, her exasperation with hills, and keeps me in stitches on every hike I take with her. She is a treasure. I can text her “hey, I found an unmarked trail …want to check it out?” and she ALWAYS says yes. She almost always bitches about it while we bushwhack through some unforeseen truly terrible trail…but she shows up and has fun…I think. Anyway, she also has just the right advice when it is needed. Level headed, she kindly points out all sides of an issue while I rant…and rant…until I manage to slow down enough hear her. Then I’m like “yeah, that makes sense…” The perfect friend to take hiking down the trails! 😀

Queen V and me on the Long Pond Trail in Green Ridge SF

There are so many good people in my hiking life…I certainly could not list them all. I wish I could, but it would take many lifetimes to do so. And so many I have not yet had the opportunity to reconnect with in 2022.

A few more photos that have frozen an amazing moment in time for me. Moments filled with pure joy shared with friends on the trail. Oh, how I look forward to getting back to regular hiking life this year! Hike on! 🙂

Labor Day at the Lake

Silly me forgot to block this day out for Office Hour appointments. Two in the morning and one late afternoon. I figured I would salvage my Labor Day with a hike around Lake Habeeb at Rocky Gap State Park in Maryland. Good call, if I do say so myself!

After hiking around half of the lake, I stopped under the shade of an oak tree near the shore. I stretched out my big red poncho, threw my shoes carelessly over into the grass, and leaned back to look up at the sky. Temperature in the upper seventies, blue skies, puffy clouds, a few yellow leaves littered the ground around me, and frequent breezes that kept the water splashing onto the bank.

As I sat there, two Jay’s started a heated discussion, accompanied by a chorus from the crickets. A family of kayakers floated past, father and small child closer to the bank; Mom chasing a dinosaur float toy that the wind was pushing just out of her reach. After several minutes she was successful in corralling Dino and all was well! In the background, like white noise, I could hear the joyous racket of children at the beach. Ahhh, the end of summer. It was absolute bliss!

In the woods, a variety of fungi lined the path. I felt beckoned to consider that I needed to let some things “die” to make room for new growth. Still thinking on that…

The breeze picked up…was that a chill? When did that dark cloud get here? Guess it was time to move on around the rest of the lake…and pick up my own pace! Hike on!