Saturday Stroll at Little Orleans

A stunning morning for a walk down along the Potomac River near Little Orleans, Maryland. This was a chilly morning and I almost talked myself out of a walk before I even finished my cup of coffee. Then I saw a friend’s post about how excited they were to be headed out to see the bluebells…well, that encouraged me to get up and get out!

My route around the horn this morning…about 5 miles.

This is a nice 5-mile loop…well, it’s not exactly a loop. That shape requires a more descriptive name…..hmmm, how about Pelican Bill loop? or Butterfly Catcher loop? 🙂

I pulled into the Western Maryland Rail Trail lot across from the Little Orleans camp store at about 8:30 am. Not a soul around except folks in the campground. Nice! I started down the smooth paved rail trail towards the canal. It was surprising that no bikes were out this morning. Oh well, better for me! The rail trail curved to the right and through a small tunnel before ending, rather abruptly, at the beginning of an old trestle that spanned the river. Okay…how do I get down to the canal??? Backtracked to the road crossing, which was the most likely suspect, and looked downhill. A PATC sign greeted me…so I went that way. 😀

That was a good guess and after a small, but muddy, stream crossing I was on the canal path! Lovely stretch of the canal!

I am not a huge fan of walking for a long time on the canal path as it is hard on my feet. Today, was no exception in that regard, BUT there was enough Springtime popping action around me that I was distracted by the absolute beauty of it all!

The redbuds were every where! You can see one in the pic from the little tunnel above. I passed many along my route. They really lit up the forest!

Oh, and then the big hit…Bluebells! I wait for them every spring, calculating when and where to go to see them. They seemed to be at peak bloom! I was over the moon to see them in bunches lining the canal and carpeting the river bank! One of my favorites!

A Bluebell jamboree!

Skirting around the horn of this hike, I passed the 15-Mile Creek Campground. This is a decent sized campground and right on the river. Spring and Fall are probably the best time for camping here. I imagine the bugs in the summer would be pretty unbearable! But hey, if you like the summer river life, go for it! 🙂 There is a boat ramp and with the towpath and rail trail it gives everyone something to enjoy!

I headed down the canal towards the old Indigo train tunnel. As I approached the opening a rush of cool air gave me the chills. I had momentary vision of a scene from one of the Harry Potter movies when Harry’s cousin, Dudley, is attacked by the Dementors in a tunnel near their house. 😀 😀 Okay, maybe not quite that dramatic! 😀 The tunnel is closed off, but it is still a neat side trip to look through the bars towards the light at the end of the tunnel!

And without any discussion on this…I am closing out this post with a cheesy t-shirt slogan…”The light at the end of the tunnel may be an oncoming train!” 😀 Hike on!

COVID’s Unintentional Realignment

Over the last year, I went through the stages of COVID like many folks I know (and maybe you too). It started with disbelief at the situation before us, then anger that life had been taken out of our control. After the anger subsided, I began to bargain with life…like okay, I won’t hike at the popular spots, but I am still going to hike…then just plain old acceptance that hiking in the Frederick area was a disaster of overcrowding by weekend hikers trying to escape. And acceptance that life had changed.

Two teachers in a small house. My classroom was a bedroom upstairs. My partner’s classroom downstairs in the Dining room. Outside our window, the Dairy Maid employees smoked and cursed and played loud music. Semi trucks barreled down our street shaking the house, their roar obscuring my voice as I attempted to explain College Algebra to students over Zoom. In the beginning, I could laugh it off. It was an adventure in teaching! After a year of the same it wore on me. It also wore on my ability to remain positive. I stopped talking. My partner took up the slack, but I was okay with silence.

We started to take long drives to escape. Normally, we would head to Virginia…Shenandoah National Park specifically. Now we couldn’t … the crowds were insane. So we took I-68 into western Maryland one weekend. That turned into two, and then three, then I lost count. We started talking about buying a house to get away from Frederick. Then one weekend in November, we drove through a beautiful neighborhood, grabbed each other’s hand, and jumped.

I have been living here in western Maryland for less than two weeks, but this is such a good place and will be an amazing place once I make it mine! Now that my animals are more comfortable in the house I have started to venture out to explore! It has been a beautiful week in the mid-Atlantic with mild temperatures and sunny skies. So, before March decides to throw a snowstorm at me…

I took a nice walk along the C&O Canal this week. I started at Spring Gap and walked west toward Cumberland. Interesting history through here and I look forward to learning more about the canal in this area. There are the remains of a Pump House on this stretch which, back in the day, would maintain the level of the water in the canal.

The pump house of yesteryear
Pump house today

I also found a few signs of spring, but I had to look really hard!! A few budlets on what I really, really hope is a rasberry bush and some on a small tree, as well. Oh! and I heard a Spring Peeper!!!

Canal House

Today, I headed over to the lake at Rocky Gap State Park. A needed diversion after priming the walls in my dining room (thank goodness I do not paint for a living). I walked along an old road, then around part of the lake. I had no big ambitions, but wanted to be in nature for at least an hour. It was gorgeous!

The old road
Tree spirit can’t be held back! 😄
Lake Habeeb

Post-COVID is bringing a new normal to my life. I look out my back window and see mountains! I would have never imagined one year ago that this is where I would be … but I am ever so glad for the unintentional consequences of COVID! Onward to new adventures – Hike on!

Sidekick Pauli Gets Off Her Doggie Couch

Sidekick Pauli, my most faithful hiking pal, has entered her retirement years. She is covered in fatty tumors and some of them are in awkward spots. She likes to sleep…a lot. 🐾

However, she can be persuaded to get off of her doggie couch as long as getting off 1) involves a treat, 2) she is immediately hooked up to her leash (signal for walk), and 3) I have my car keys in hand (signal for going hiking)!

All stars aligned for her Saturday morning! Her dog smile was ENORMOUS as she trotted out to the car at a respectable 10:00 am.

We headed up to Dam #4 on the C&O Canal near Sharpsburg, Maryland. This would be a short hike for me, but a big, super, best hike ever for my aging Pauli girl!

Parking at Big Slackwater allowed me and Pauli-wog to hike a mile on the canal to Dam #4, then turn around and hike back … 2 miles total.

It was beautiful weather for January. Rain threatened, but with a balmy 58 degrees, I was happy to chance it.

The hike down to the dam was lovely. The Potomac River sparkled each time the clouds parted enough to allow a peek of sunlight through. A group of Mallard ducks quacked a warning as we neared, then took flight with a whoosh of wings and upsweep of river spray from their webbed feet on take-off.

Getting to the Dam, we explored the river bank, then headed back.

Sidekick Pauli seemed in a hurry…and practically dragged me back to the car. I noticed the temps had dropped, the sky now hid the sun completely, and a stiff wind had begun to blow. Sidekick Pauli was not pleased. She kept me walking at a very fast pace… where was my retiree now…good lord, was she trying to kill me???

Fifteen minutes and we were in the car! Then the rain came…turns out Pauli-waddle-doodle-all-day was trying to save me. 😄

Best hike EVERRRR…hike on!

How Quickly the Clouds Change the Sky

I started walking in the gray cold rawness that comes with winter.  No snow on the ground, just last fall’s display littered upon the ground.  Today I walk because I am sad, and worried, and feel like my stomach has been punched.  It is with no real purpose as I fly down the trail except to outrun my thoughts.

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My Sidekick Pauli has a lump.  A lump that is concerning.  A lump that sidles up to her carotid artery.  A lump that grew in a matter of two weeks.  She goes in for surgery tomorrow morning.

This is my hiking companion we are talking about.  My eyes are filling…just stop thinking. There is no need for “what ifs”! Get it together!

The stiff wind blew down my collar and I pulled my coat a little closer.  I wasn’t even dressed particularly well for this hike.  Whatever.  I stopped to look out over the Potomac River noticing a sliver of blue on the horizon.  What a beautiful winter sky.  I tucked my head down and kept forward on the C&O Canal headed for the Catoctin Creek Aqueduct. Fifteen minutes before I had no idea that was where I was headed, but it was good to have made a decision; to have a focus.

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I can’t think about this right now.  I noticed a guy and his puppy coming towards me.  As he passed, the puppy leaped towards me.  I heard him say “C’mon Sally”.  Sally?? I knew it before I inquired with excitement “Sally? Is that Sally Pretzel? !!!”…IT WAS!!!!!!!!  Sally Pretzel is the puppy of one of my hiking friends!  Her husband just happened to be walking her out on the canal today.  It helped me to meet Sally Pretzel.  She reminds me of Sidekick Pauli when she was a puppy!  Little Sally made me laugh! 🙂 🙂

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Heading on I notice the clouds had changed.  There was more blue now.  As I passed the Catoctin Tunnel it felt warmer and I loosened my coat for the last mile to the aqueduct. Down the path that overlooks the aqueduct to stretch a little before heading back to Point of Rocks.

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On the way back the clouds behind me were dark gray, but bright blue skies were in front of me.  I knew those blue skies weren’t going to last, but never mind…I was now hoping to see snow.  A few flakes flew as a train rounded the rocks and clickity-clacked by me.  The passing train made me feel I was walking a million miles an hour.

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As the gray pushed over the sun once again, snowflakes fell more rapidly, then just like that…poof…they were gone, and I was left to walk the final mile in the gray cold rawness that comes with winter.

Hike on.

Between a Couple and a Few

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Between a couple and a few…could be miles, could be pets, could be just about anything in my life at the moment. Been stuck in the house between a couple and a few days because it has been wicked cold.  Today I could not stand it any longer…cabin fever be gone!  I mentioned to Little […]

C&O Canal: Point of Rocks to Catoctin Aqueduct…A Chilly Hike!

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My son came home from college for the Thanksgiving weekend on Amtrak.  We got to talking and he mentioned the train had gone over this really cool aqueduct he had never known about just before getting to Point of Rocks.  I said, “Oh, that’s the Catoctin Aqueduct!  They just finished refurbishing it…I keep meaning to […]

7/13/13 C&O canal to Harper’s Ferry with the Trail Dames of Maryland ~7.5 miles

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I drove away from the house this morning in light drizzle and fog.  As I pointed the car in the direction of Harper’s Ferry and headed down 340 west the drizzle became a steady rain.  I wondered, as I glanced at the sky, whether any of the dames would cancel.  I turned on the radio […]