Feeling Beachy at Elk Neck State Park-Maryland

The Chesapeake Bay! Turkey Point Lighthouse!

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There is no better indication that summer is still here than a sailboat on the bay!

It took two hours, half a tank of gas, $8 in bridge tolls, and a $3 entrance fee to get to Elk Neck from Frederick, Maryland…but the views of the Bay…yes, definitely priceless!!

Elk Neck is located on a peninsula at the top of the Chesapeake Bay. The place where the Susquehanna, North East, Elk, and Bohemia Rivers spill into the Bay. At the southern most part of the park, Turkey Point Lighthouse sits atop the bluffs affording an expansive view of the Bay.

Sidekick Pauli and I started our hike on the White Banks Trail at North East Beach. Dogs are allowed on all the trails and beaches, except for the swimming area. The trail description describes this as a “challenging” trail, but that must be by eastern Maryland standards. ūüėČ
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Within 15 minutes, we came to a “T” in the trail. The official trail goes left, but shamelessly, I went right…and oh my!! The beach, a secluded, empty, windy beach! Yippee!

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Sidekick Pauli’s first view of the Bay

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Driftwood is very, very cool

Sidekick Pauli approached the water with great trepidation. When a wave would roll, then crash, onto the beach, she would jump back startled. These were tiny waves! Oh well, mountains and lakes are more her style. ūüôā ūüôā

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The waves are chasing me!! Maybe I can climb that cliff…

There was a great piece of driftwood for us to sit on and eat our lunch. Total relaxation overtook me sitting there on the sunny beach watching sailboats drift by in the Bay.  Then Sidekick Pauli, having had quite enough of the sand, and the waves, and the wind, whined and pawed me leaving wet sand all over! Time to keep hiking!

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Okay, okay…we’re going!

After the stop at the beach we climbed the steepest hill of the entire hike. ¬†I remember it, not for its steepness, but for the woman who we passed as we were going up…a cigarette and whiskey voice with a starlet physique…memorable. ūüėČ

Next stop was White Bank overlook…pretty cool. ¬†Watch your step! It’s a long way down!

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White Banks…and a rather abrupt drop off!

Continuing around the park, we took a side trail over to meet up with the Pond Loop. ¬†Acorns and pawpaws were my only obstacles…and I slid twice! Darn acorns!
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The pond was more to Sidekick Pauli’s liking, so we took our time around the perimeter. ¬†I love those big, plumed grasses that grow on the eastern shore of Maryland. ¬†The pond’s shore was thick with this grass.
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Once we were around the pond, we caught the Farm Trail back to the parking lot.

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It’s not a flower, Pauli.

However, we were not done for the day! ¬†The one unfortunate aspect of this park is that it is split into two pieces, with a prestigious bay community inbetween. ūüė¶ ¬†Lucky for the residents, not for park visitors! ¬†So if you want to visit the lighthouse…which of course you do…you will need to drive down to the lighthouse trail. ¬†Which we did! Then NO PARKING was available, but the park ranger made a space for me! ūüôā ūüôā

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Turkey Point Lighthouse

Thank you, ranger!
Lovely day at the Bay!

Hike on!

A Shorter Loop at Sugarloaf Mountain, Maryland

Rain, muggy, then rain again! My last week before returning to teach summer classes was less than ideal. While I got out for a few spins around downtown Frederick, I was missing the woods.  Sunday came with the gift of opportunity!  I chose to go to Sugarloaf Mountain!

Sugarloaf is a classic place to go hiking…translation…it can be super crowded and the port-a-potties always smell…

However, there are times when introverts like me can actually enjoy the mountain.  Go early and preferably on a weekday, although super early usually does the trick.  Park behind the mountain on Mt. Ephraim road and head up the Blue or Yellow trails.  It is a gravel road, but well packed down.  In addition, improvements have been made so the creek now flows underneath the road bed!

I was out the door with Sidekick Pauli at 6:30 AM, and after a few stops, was on the trail at 7:20 AM.  There was not a soul around!!! Yessssss!!!!

Mt. Ephraim Road

Mt. Ephraim Road

I parked at the usual spot on Mt. Ephraim road and headed up the Blue trail to White Rocks. The whole area was fogged in leaving the woods with mist hovering in the branches of trees and spider webs glistening with water droplets. Very moody, like something out of a BBC period production. ¬†Too bad it doesn’t come out well in the photos because it was pretty outstanding!

Starting the Blue Trail just off Mt. Ephraim Road

Starting the Blue Trail just off Mt. Ephraim Road

It was also incredibly humid. Cool, but humid! Sidekick Pauli was delighted to find a spring dumping out directly onto the trail.  I was delighted to find a few stepping stones so I could hop over said spring!

Arriving at White Rocks, we found we were still fogged in. ¬†We sat for a few minutes becoming part of the quietness that surrounded us. ¬†When we got going again the birds were beginning to chatter to each other. ¬†Ahhh, can’t beat being out here in the early morning!

No view at White Rock so Sidekick Pauli is searching for...?

No view at White Rock so Sidekick Pauli is searching for…?

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Foggy Woods

The Blue trail winds down, then up to one of the lesser summits at 1015 feet (Mt. Ephraim road is at 500 feet).  The summit is marked by a big rock pile.  I added a rock to the pile and kept on.

Lesser Summit 1015 feet

Sidekick Pauli at the Lesser Summit of 1015 feet

Coming down the mountain, it looked as if the trail has been rerouted to accommodate new switchbacks! Nice! ¬†Soon after the switchback I spotted a dog barreling down the trail. ¬†“I have a dog.” I called out in a stage voice that hasn’t gotten much use since high school. ¬†The owners, thankfully, were able to call back their dog and get him on a leash. Sidekick Pauli is not fond of people or animals that intrude into her personal space without invitation! ¬†Crisis was averted and we continued down the trail once the dog and its owners passed by.

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Having limited time and I chose to take the yellow trail back down to Mt. Ephraim Road. ¬†A new trail to explore, a welcome change! ¬†A nice trail too! ¬†Even though this is the “Horse Trail” it was wide and easy to walk.

Great Trail! Just for horses? Looks like cars too.

Great Trail! Just for horses? Looks like cars too.

No obvious pock marks, not a lot of horse poo, but occasionally there was a disgusting, muddy puddle of water.  This was not unexpected after the rain in the area this week!

Yuck, Yuck, Yuck!

Yuck, Yuck, Yuck! Sidekick Pauli…DON’T even THINK about it!

The complete¬†loop, Blue from Mt. Ephraim road to White Rocks, then to the Yellow trail back to Mt Ephraim road, was about four miles. ¬†Long enough to get your mind in the right place, but short enough to not wear you out (just in case you have to go home and help with housework…)!

Grab the dog in your life and hike on! ūüôā

Humpday Hike! Monocacy National Battlefield-Thomas Farm Loop

An unexpected day off for me! The stars had aligned…sunny, dry, and now a day off…well, let’s go hiking!

Thomas Farm is part of the Monocacy National Battlefield located in Frederick, Maryland.  The trail here is too short for a full day hike but perfect if you have an hour or two to spare (I did!).  This was my first time at Thomas Farm so I was filled with excitement that only a tramp down a new trail brings as I pulled into the parking area.  Sidekick Pauli was in tow, and together we started down the drive towards the big red barn.

The wind made things cold for awhile...and it kept blowing Sidekick Pauli's ears from side to side!

The wind made things cold for awhile…and it kept blowing Sidekick Pauli’s ears from side to side!

Once past the big red barn, the drive heads down the middle of the field. ¬†Easy walking! ¬†Beautiful view of the mountains in the distance, but totally flat through the field. ¬†If there is a negative, it would be that this farm sidles up to I-270. ¬†Honestly, it didn’t bother me that much…but the wind was literally howling at times so it could have masked the sound of traffic!

Are we in Kansas?

Are we in Kansas?

After walking through the field the trail takes a right leaving the hard, crushed stone drive to hug the edge of the field. ¬†During the summer months this would be a nice respite from the hot walk down from the barn! OH…and the deer…wow, there must have been at least thirty deer in the woods! ¬†They didn’t really want to hang out and converse with us…

Towards the end of the field the white trail goes down hill to the Monocacy River.  It was quite full, fast and muddy today.  The white trail was in pretty good shape for being so close to the river and was a pleasant diversion from the field above.  Sidekick Pauli had a good time using her hound dog nose to sniff the place out!

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Before the white trail hairpins to the right and heads uphill, I caught view of the old iron bridge over the Monocacy on Rt. 355. ¬†With a cell phone camera, I couldn’t get a zoom with any clarity so gave up and headed back up to the field. ¬†We could have earned a blue ribbon for speed as we raced back to the car…it was a bit nippy in that wind! Brrrr…not quite Spring yet! ūüôā

Hike on!

Snowy Hike up to Weverton Cliffs, Maryland

Well, an unexpected 12 inches of snow! I was excited! Finally, a snowstorm that didn’t end in the dreaded wintry mix, a snowstorm that exceeded expectation, so off we went to play…WHEEEEEEEEEE!!!! ūüôā

I headed down 340 towards Harper’s Ferry, and thought briefly about going down towards Shenandoah National Park…but then Weverton came into site as I rounded a corner. ¬†I pulled off into the commuter lot, grabbed my pack and Sidekick Pauli…we were off!

Yay, someone had broken trail before us! Boooo…the plows had come by piling up the snow at the edge of road next to the trail. ¬†It must have been 4 feet high! I started to climb over the the snow bank and promptly sunk into my knees, lovely way to start a hike. ¬†ūüėČ Sidekick Pauli didn’t seem to mind and jumped like a jack rabbit through the pile up of hard packed snow.

Winter on the  Appalachian Trail up to Weverton Cliffs

Winter on the Appalachian Trail up to Weverton Cliffs

I noticed snowshoe prints alongside the trail…brilliant! I was wearing microspikes and glad of them…but the snowshoes would be a perfect choice for this soft, fluffy stuff. ¬†Sidekick Pauli did well with her four on the floor sticking her nose in the air sniffing her way up the snowy trail.

Steep! and great winter views!

Steep! and great winter views!

This trail has its fair share of rocks and step ups, but not today. ¬†The blue skies and snowy trail made for a lovely walk. Steep as usual, but without the toe stubbing spots and ankle turner opportunities. ¬† The temperatures were also delightfully mild and I actually found myself wishing I hadn’t opted for the heavy weight long underwear!

I posted a pic of the trail sign to Instagram…¬†GroundBird Gear¬†posted back at me stating they had broken trail the day before…in snowshoes!!! Well, now I know who made those prints I was admiring! ūüôā

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We stopped at the top to share a PB&J and some cheese (Sidekick Pauli’s favorite hiking snack). The views were amazing and we had the sunny overlook to ourselves for quite awhile today. Nice!

Sidekick Pauli enjoying a break at Weverton Cliffs, Maryland

Sidekick Pauli enjoying a break at Weverton Cliffs, Maryland

Weverton Cliffs with the Potomac River in the background.  I can see Spring from here!

Weverton Cliffs with the Potomac River in the background. I can see Spring from here!

Hike On-it’s almost Spring! ūüėÄ

Kick off the New Year! Annapolis Rocks & Hot Chocolate in the Shelter

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Nothing like a brisk hike in freezing temps to kick off the New Year! I had ulterior motives for this hike…I wanted to try out my new Esbit stove…but I will get to that later. So off we go! ¬†A balmy 25 degrees as I sat and shivered waiting for my car to heat up. […]

PATC Wilderness First Aid Weekend…Rain, Guys and Gore!

Wilderness First Aid?  Should I do this? Do I need this?

The contemplation of taking this class initially worried me a little bit…what if I was trying to help someone and I hurt them instead? ¬†When it comes to blood and guts I am not squeamish, in fact my curiosity takes over and I actually like it…not that I want anyone to be in that state…but if I came upon someone that had, say, major wounds I am okay with dealing with it in a calm manner. ¬†So if a counselor is needed, I feel I could talk down a patient and keep them calm…BUT…my confidence for being able to actually HELP medically¬†…um…um…well, I could assist them in dying with dignity.

Recognizing this¬†shortcoming in myself meant I needed to do something about it. ¬†So should I do this? ¬†Yes. ¬†Biting my bottom lip and furrowing my brow, I completed the online registration and clicked “Submit”. ¬†Submit,¬†yes, submitting.¬†Submitting to the unknown, the scary, the idea that now I would be truly responsible for¬†helping in a medical emergency out on the trail. ¬†I submitted.

And I DO need this!  I am a hike leader for the Trail Dames of Maryland with basic first aid and CPR.  I need more training.  My desire to keep the Dames safe supersedes my fear that I could do something wrong.

Well, there it is. ¬†I felt like I would do it wrong. ¬†It is that fear that has kept me from so many things. ¬†I have to overcome the fear of failure in order to do every single little thing in my life. ¬†I stayed out of college for far too long because I was afraid to fail (I didn’t), in a partnership with someone for far to long because I feared I couldn’t do it on my own (I was wrong) AND feared I would screw up my kids life (nope, he is awesome)…and here I was again, facing down the fear of failure. ¬†But I did it!! Yay! ūüôā ūüôā

So off I went Saturday morning to the Emergency Response Training Center.  It was raining. It was cold.  oh joy.  I dressed in layers and rain gear taking my orange Osprey day pack filled with goodies for the day.  I got there with no problem and found coffee cake and coffee! Nice welcome!  Saleena and Dave DeVore, our fearless leaders for the day, welcomed all of us and after initial introductions started instruction. But let me just stop here to say that I WAS THE ONLY FEMALE!!!

Why do I need to say that? Because it matters to me and that is reason enough. ¬†I didn’t mind too much…but felt that at least on one of the training activities I was singled out to be a scout because the designated “leader” didn’t think me capable of carrying the litter. ¬†Saleena turned to me and said “They always do that, they always single out the women.” ¬†I told her that it pissed me off until I saw they had to carry the litter (with patient) down a steep, muddy, slippery hill complete with obstacle they had to go under with patient and litter. ¬†Yeah, go to it guys…knock yourselves out…and you know what?¬†I am secretly hash tagging you, leader guy. ūüėČ

The first day of training ended with a first aid kit shake down that was pretty funny and emasculating! ¬†Very informative and I learned a great deal from Saleena about what is “really” needed and what can be left at home. ¬†Bottom line…my kit needed a little bolstering. Especially for a hike leader! ¬†I added a SAM splint and an emergency blanket with plans on adding better width ace bandage and a variety of other little updates.

The funniest item to add to the kit came on day two when we discussed bleeding. ¬†Saleena asked us what we could use out of our packs to use as a dressing. ¬†Typical answers like bandanas, socks and cotton shirts were thrown out. ¬†Then Saleena whips out a post partum maternity pad out of her kit…oh, the looks on a few of the guys faces!!!!! Too funny, and WHAT A GREAT IDEA!!!

The second day ended with a culminating activity to reinforce what we had learned during the previous 48 hours. ¬†Three victims were placed in the woods along the trail. ¬†They had a variety of life threatening injuries as they had been “attacked by a bear”. ¬†My patient had been impaled by a stick (through the stomach), and the bear had taken a chunk out of her arm and shoulder. ¬†Just for kicks they threw in that she was diabetic. ¬†It was tough to think under pressure and not get caught up in the most obvious injury! ¬†Afterward, we had a breakout session to discuss what went right and what could have gone better. ¬†It was a great experience!

I come away feeling more confident for sure and would recommend everyone who hikes to get this training!

My next step is to peruse YouTube to learn more and to practice!! In addition, I am planning to act as a victim for upcoming WFA trainings because I think there is a lot to learn in that role as well…and being covered in blood and guts…how fun!

Hike On!

Bogs, Fungi and A Really Pretty Pond at Cedarville State Forest 8/30/2014

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I headed down to Brandywine, Maryland this weekend to scout a hike for the Trail Dames (of Maryland) at Cedarville State Forest.¬† My sister, two of her daughters and I¬†came down to explore this park a few months ago but only saw a few miles of trail before the skies opened up and we got […]