The Deep Freeze Delights of Winter

Well, happy new year and happy outdoor adventuring to everyone! Here is hoping your toes are warm, your furnace is cranking, and the pipes haven’t burst at your house.

I kicked off the new year with the Trail Dames, heading out on the best possible day last week…yay! Temps rising into the twenties!!  What an absolute delight.

I led the Dames on a 6 mile loop at Catoctin Mountain Park near Thurmont, Maryland.  This is one of my favorite hiking spots and home to Camp David for you political junkies.  Occasionally, the trails are shut down when the President is at Camp David.  This isn’t very often with the current administration.  So stomp on down the trails, no secret service to stop you!

Our route started at the Visitor Center.  We were all giddy with the blue skies and promise of increasing temperatures, despite it being 17 degrees as we pulled into the lot and greeted each other.  The Visitor Center opens at 9 am…important information if you like to hit the bathrooms before heading down the trail.  Dames LOVE bathrooms at the beginning of a hike!!! 😀 😀 😀

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Shedding Some Layers!

We started uphill first heading in the direction of Thurmont Vista.  This warmed us up!  We took our first break at the Vista, then continued around to Wolf Rocks.

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We made a half – ass effort to investigate the top of Wolf Rocks, but with ice and snow covering most of the rocks we retreated without argument and  stomped on to Chimney Rocks.  We took a longer break at Chimney Rocks.  It is a nice spot for a break since there are many rocks to sit upon.

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Retreat from Wolf Rocks

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Winter View from Chimney Rocks

Kudos to the park maintainers because they have now blazed the trails in a variety of happy colors and put in benches for restful contemplation of the universe in many spots along the trails.

Leaving Chimney Rocks, it was all downhill, steeply, to park headquarters, then a rolling mile back to our cars.  It was a beautiful way to kick off 2018!

May all your hiking goals be met this year (in spite of the frigid start).  Hike on!

AT – VA Compton Gap to US 522 with the Trail Dames

I will remember this day as hiking through the sky with Dames, then descending into the valley with Angels.

Before all of this, however, was donuts.  Tenacious D was driving and I had hitched a ride to the trail head since my car is no longer to be trusted on long trips.  I felt very grateful to have a ride down to Virginia for this section hike and stopped at Dunkin Donuts on my way to meet Tenacious D for coffee and donuts as a token of appreciation for the ride.

Wow, it was raining. and cold. and windy.  Glad I put gloves and hat in the back pack before I left!

We were the last to arrive at the trail head…Tenacious D says being a bus driver for so many years makes her just drive slow all the time!  I didn’t mind, we weren’t more than 3 – 4 minutes late, and the drive had been lovely.  We pulled over and rolled down the window as Dirigo (the hike leader today) approached. She asked “Can you all help shuttle?” “Sure!”  Another Dame jumped in and away we went up into Shenandoah National Park.

We met up with everyone at Compton Gap trail head, about 10 miles into the park.  Donning our layers, rain jackets, hats, gloves, and grabbing our hiking poles we set off into the foggy woods.  Pretty easy walking, although it began to rain making me wish I hadn’t left my big red poncho back in my car before riding down with Tenacious D.  Oh well, my rain jacket, plus layers did a fine job anyway!

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Tenacious D enjoying the trail!

The forest was magical with the heavy fog.  Lines between heaven and earth were smudged giving everything a soft ethereal glow.  It felt like we were part of the sky.  Then my eye would catch a tree with its brilliantly colored leaves in the forest reminding me that the sky had descended on the mountain, we had not risen to the sky.

We reached Possum’s Rest, which on a clear day has a beautiful view, without much trouble.  Today, all one could see was the fog.  Coming down from Possum’s Rest was a little tricky!  We were climbing down from the ridge and it was a sharp decline, even with the switchbacks, littered with wet leaves and rocks.  It was slow going…but no one fell, no one slipped!

Just before reaching the Tom Floyd Wayside, we heard barking.  Lake Front Royal is a neighborhood which backs up to the AT, so the dog was probably over there.  Happy to get out of the rain we sat down for lunch at the shelter.  A PB&J and half a bag of cheezits later I was feeling quite content.  I stretched out my legs and sat there looking out into the mist.

Tom Floyd Wayside

Tom Floyd Wayside

There is was…that barking again…louder this time.  We discussed where the dog could be, then brushed it aside as we packed up and left the shelter.  Headed downhill, then all of the sudden there it was, a small older beagle, lost, cold, wet, shivering, and very scared.  She came right up to me.  It was clear she needed help.  At first we got her to follow us, but soon realized she needed to be carried as her paws were rubbed raw.  I carried her for awhile,

then Python cleared out her backpack and together we fit her inside.  She loved that! So cozy!  And that is how Python packed her out.  As we continued towards Rt. 522 we passed directly by a few houses in Lake Front Royal.  Python asked a guy out on his deck if he knew anyone who had lost a beagle.  He didn’t but turned to get his wife.  Turns out the wife works in a vet clinic and offered to take the dog so they could follow up on the license number and scan for a microchip.

So you see, the Dames had become Angels arriving at just the right time and place for this lucky little pup.  I am ever so happy she spent the night inside, safe and warm.

A Journey Taken

A Journey Taken

Hike on.

5/3/2014 Locked Bathrooms & Trails Turned to Creeks at Catoctin Mountain Park

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This day.  Oh goodness, THIS DAY! Hiking at Catoctin has never been this much of an adventure…but I WAS with Bag Lady and other Trail Dames… I arrived a little early and saw that B^2 was already in the parking lot.  I gave her a quick wave and told her since the visitor center wasn’t […]

Spring Spectacular! Two Hikes with the Maryland Trail Dames

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Spring is finally here! I welcome the blue skies, green grass, spring flowers, and happy birds more than ever after the crazy winter we have had here in Maryland. So with a literal spring in my step I have headed out more than a few times over the last couple of weeks to take it […]