The Cormorant’s Advice

When Goldenrod makes her entrance Summer is surely put on notice. Add a clear, crisp morning in late August, woodland sunflowers, and a few stray leaves starting to show a tinge of orange and it seems Summer best hurry to finish her conversation before being thrust unceremoniously out the back door!

I haven’t said goodbye to her, yet. This is my last really carefree Friday for a while, so, let me visit with my friend, Summer, before she bids farewell.

Meandering about Harper’s Ferry I am engulfed in the transition between summer and fall…and lost in an oh, so blue, sky!

A kindred spirit, in form of a deer, stopped to bid me good morning.

A train barreled by pointing out there is no time to lose and I must keep pushing forward.

The Shenandoah, moving swiftly past, agreed with the train. “Make haste! Summer is packing up!”

Standing firm, between the north and south banks of the river, stood a cormorant, perched on a rock perusing his options. “No need to be bamboozled by that rackity clack train and this impatient river” he called out, “they are set in their path and cannot change course.”

I took the cormorant’s advice. I took the long way, the curvy way, the way I did not know. The un-set path.

Hike On!

BoobOnARock & Queen V do Flip Flop Festival 2016

Walking to the Flip Flop Festival from Weverton, I was going against the traffic of several hikers that looked like they were out to do something serious. My mind wandered to something my hiking friend Google told me a few years ago (when I was hiking through Georgia).  “You oughta be here in the Spring” she told me,  “hiking south through Georgia is…interesting.”
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Here in Maryland, the thruhikers I usually see are lean, determined, and move very fast! They have 1000 miles under their belts and have settled in for the ride.  Today, as I strode quickly down the canal to meet Queen V, I passed several clean, not lean, well, okay, some were lean…but not in that “I’ve been beating the trail and the trail’s been beating me” kind of lean.  The backpacks were flashy…can I say that? I felt like I was walking through the REI website…oh yes, and I’ll take one of those…two of these…oh, and how cute is that, he is dragging his pack behind him on a wheelie thingy!  Oh, I wanted to see that guy drag the wheelie thing with his pack up Weverton. 🙂  A little sadistic, yes, I am.

“You’ve got to give a little, take a little,
and let your poor heart break a little.
That’s the story of, that’s the glory of …”  What the hell, Bette Midler’s song from Beaches?  Where did that come from?!!  Walk faster, Bette must be left behind! These hikers would deal or not.  I had to get to Harper’s Ferry…it was now 9:24 am and I was supposed to meet Queen V at 10 am.  I had my phone on airplane mode and was blissfully not getting any of her texts…

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Tramped over the railroad bridge to Harper’s Ferry at 9:50! Quick stop at the train station, then up the hill to the ATC.  It was getting hot!  By the time I met up with Queen V I was ready to shed one of my layers. Then it was time for some exploring.

First stop, of course, is to get someone to take our picture in front of the ATC.   Yeah, I have like fifteen pictures in front of the ATC…but you know…it’s my Alamo.  So there.

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We went around back to check out the vendors, and most importantly, scope out the food situation.  The food truck looked mighty promising with its sweet potato and black bean burrito (it was freakin delicious!).
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Queen V, as usual, being the diva that she is demanded requested sweetly to have her picture taken in various locals…(she is now hounding me to get this post done as quickly as possible).  I did mention that “narcissism becomes her”!  😉
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There was a workshop at 11:30 am we were going to attend.  I knew the presenter by name only here in blogland…but I am happy to say I have now met Sisu face to face and a nicer guy he could not be! 🙂  He did a great presentation and it was just so neat to meet someone I had only known through comments on this blog.  Here’s to meeting up again sometime, Sisu! 🙂 🙂
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Oh, and by the way, the weather for this event was just the best!  However, that did not stop me from hitching a ride back to my car (Thanks Queen V!).  Yeah, after that sweet potato & black bean burrito…and a creamsicle…I kinda lost my mojo for huffing it back down the canal to my car.
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So good luck flip floppers! and all thruhikers!  And even if Maine eludes you, the adventure of the dream did not! Hike on! 🙂

The Search for the Missing Caverns (Schoolhouse Ridge, WV)

We could write a book, Queen V and me.  Hers would have a “Little House on the Prairie” spin, while mine would be more of the “Nancy Drew” formula variety…but still.

Yesterday’s adventure started as a pre-scheduled Trail Dame hike up to Boliver Heights in which everyone had canceled except Queen V.  We took that opportunity to go rogue. So after a gentle climb up and down Bolivar Heights,  we went looking for the abandoned camp on Schoolhouse Ridge.

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We entered an area that we assume “unofficial” cars are not allowed…but there is no gate or fence keeping out curious pedestrians…hike on!

The dew laden grasses in the battlefield had soaked our shoes, so I was pleased to be hiking up a gravel road.  The air was crisp, the sky was blue, and a few leaves were showing off bright yellows and reds of autumn.

I was looking forward to revisiting the abandoned camp which Little Caesar and I had stumbled upon last year.  There is nothing quite so exciting as to inadvertently hike into something unexpected and forgotten.  It seems to open a box of memories locked in place and time.  Not my personal memories, but a collective of memories created by what I have read or seen of the time period.

We reached a fork in the road, which way?  I don’t remember so we go to the right at first, then finding nothing, turned back and took the left fork.  Ah, there it is!

Queen V states “Better to ask for forgiveness, than ask for permission.”  as we pass the first long, low building.  There are some official park vehicles behind a chain link fence.  I give little attention at first, then look again.  Oh, it was a swimming pool! Queen V steps forward pointing out how it has been filled in and oh, look there is the baby pool!

Turning our backs on the pool area we head to the other end of the building.  Here we find another shack with signage!

We are now both on our phones “googling” for information on this park.  I find nothing because I have T-Metro (T-Mobile).  Queen V is victorious, somewhat, in her search. This was an early Jellystone Campground!  We continue to poke our heads into each building, searching for clues to the past.

Just an average girl climbing up on a cement block to take a peek. Go Queen V!

Just an average girl climbing up on a cement block to take a peek. Go Queen V!

Scramble under the bushes, poke, poke, ….Oh My STARS!!! Hey Boo Boo, How about a pic-a-nic basket?!!!  THIS IS THE BEST FIND EVVVEEEEERRRR!!!

Can you believe it? The best! We are both just giddy at this point and our curiosity is at full throttle.  What else was here?  What else are you finding on Google?

“Caverns…there were caverns!” reports Queen V.   “Caverns?” I ask, just to be sure I heard her correctly.  Oh yes, now the hunt for the missing caverns began.

I found this online...there are caverns!

I found this online…there are caverns!

We hiked further up the road.  Veering right at the next fork we found the cracked, old pavement ended and our wade through thigh high grasses began.  It was still a road, just unpaved and not frequently used. We found a power hook up, like an RV or trailer would use when camping and looking around discovered we were in one of the old campground areas.  Overgrown and forgotten, including the bath house.  But no caverns.

We hiked up past the maintenance area, into another campground loop long forgotten.  More power hook ups, but now with an addition of water pumps!  And security lights floating above the trees that looked like flying saucers. 🙂

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But still no caverns! Online resources stated the caverns had been “adjacent” to the campground, so they had to be here somewhere!

We stomped up and down and all around Schoolhouse Ridge until our stomachs were growling and our feet were sloshing in our shoes.  Still nothing! Where could the missing caverns be located?

We headed back downhill, not satisfied with our search, we discussed next steps.  “We can leave a car here in the parking lot, then drive further up the road…there has to be something!” I said confidently.  Okay, good plan! Let’s do it! So we did.

We took my car and drove about a hundred feet up the road to the Train Museum.  I turned in and we found ourselves in the middle of yet another adventure! Only $2 to take the train ride???  OH WE ARE DOING THIS…wait, do we have any paper money? I found three crumpled dollar bills and Queen V found a dollar’s worth of change in her wallet…train ride on!

“Hey, do you know about the caverns around here?” I asked the conductor.  Of course he did and told us he would fill us in after the ride. 🙂 🙂 🙂

This guy had information on the caverns! After the train ride, he happily gave us a little history lesson.

This guy had information on the caverns! After the train ride, he happily gave us a little history lesson.

I think we had more fun than the kids on the train!

I think we had more fun than the kids on the train!

The Train guy’s story:
The campground closed in the 1970s. “It would have been miserable up there in the summer. No trees then, just out there in the middle of the field.” He shows us an old post card. A view from above, happy campers lounging by the pool with the long low house in which Yogi now resided. “Oh yeah, the caverns are up there, but they filled them in too…they were collapsing anyway. Pretty dangerous.” he finished.

We still want to find those old caverns…but for now the missing caverns will have to remain missing for us! Hike on!

A Morning at Boliver Heights Battlefield

The mysteriousness of a heavily fogged in morning.  It feels both calm and spooky, like something is about to happen.  Battlefields are especially moving in the early morning and add in the fog…well, walking through it, having it swirl around me and swallow me up…left me feeling as if I had entered a magical place where it was possible to transcend time.

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Looking towards Schoolhouse Ridge

Sidekick Pauli walked with me this morning up the the hill from Schoolhouse Ridge.  I looked back at the car once finding it hard to see in the mist.  I looked back twice and it was gone.  A thick misty white wall moved across the field in no hurry to rise into the sky.  We headed on up the hill and eventually emerged from the fog. How beautiful the opposing Schoolhouse Ridge looked.  We turned back to enter the woods and climb up to Boliver Heights.
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The climb was gentle and several deer greeted us with a quick glance and a flip of the tail as we made our way up.  Then the beauty of the ridge!

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Sunrise at Boliver Heights

Looking down to the Potomac & Shenandoah Rivers … rivers still hidden at this early hour.  Absolutely stunning!

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Looking down into Harper's Ferry

Headed back down into the woods after walking along the ridge enjoying the views. The trail here was a little rough with several blowdowns. At one point I wondered if I had gotten off the trail, but there was a definite path in front of me so I continued.
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Coming to a fork in the trail, someone had tied ribbons to indicate which way to go. Downhill, well, that makes sense. So down we went! More blowdowns, then into a pawpaw patch we followed the ribbons.
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“Yay!” I thought, catching site of the field as we climbed over our last log. Entering the field, we were about 100 yards away from a farmhouse. I heard a man’s voice yell up to me, “Are you lost?” Um…um…awkward! I didn’t think so, but apparently this was someone’s private property!! After talking, well, yelling back and forth with the guy, we had no choice but to follow the ribbons back up the hill! I don’t know who marked that trail, but ergh.

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Dead end!!!

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Back on the ridge, but the fog is gone

A lovely morning to explore, though! And hey, eventually I will find the right trail down the hill! 🙂

Happy Friday and take the weekend to hike on!

Breaking out of the February Funk…a work in progress

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Alright.  How many of you are just done with this winter? Yeah. me too!  I write this as yet another impending snowstorm looms… I have started to turn the corner on my winter funk though…thank god!  Last weekend I had an absolutely terrific day hiking on the C&O canal between the Monocacy Aqueduct and Point […]