A Trail Dame woman I hike with has claimed that I am magic when it comes to scheduling hikes in perfect weather. Well, folks, my streak came to an end in recent weeks! Two hikes canceled for thunderstorms. ⛈ Planning the perfect day to lead a hike doesn’t always work out…and this week I needed to reschedule a hike to last night…a sunset hike at Worthington Farm, part of Monocacy National Battlefield, in Frederick, Maryland.
Oh, but the weather gods shined on me once again! The weather was absolutely golden. The sun cast a glow over the fields and forest of late afternoon. The temperatures were delightfully mild, as well. We didn’t even break a sweat on this one!
We left the big house heading up Brooks Hill. There is usually a good view over Baker Valley at the top, but as we rounded the last turn in the path to the high point, we we met with a big green wall of corn.
Now, I can’t look at a field of corn without stepping into it…like crossing into a different world. Obviously, the Dames had to comply! 🌽😄🌽
Afterwards, we walked down along the river, before returning to the big house to wait for sunset. It did not disappoint. This is a wonderful place to watch the day end. We sat around the picnic table as the sun dropped lower and lower behind the distant ridges of the Frederick watershed. And then it was gone. The crickets began their rhythmic chorus and I gave a deep sigh. Hike on!
Return to section hiking! Return to the big mountains in Virginia!
First, it is a tragedy that the only time teachers, like me, get to go on vacation is during the hot-ass summer. It is beastly hiking weather, but here we are!
In Mother Nature’s favor, it was blissfully not hot for most of our weekend and I gave thanks many times over for that. But hiking up 2000 feet after driving 3.5 hours to meet my hiking gal pals, including Akela with her trusty hike-tastic mini-van, then taking said van another 45 minutes down the road to the trailhead, was a hard day’s work.
I was excited! It has been a while since we had all hiked together. I was ready for a weekend of releasing all the toxic crap that has been weighing me down. Yes, a complete reset would do. So, up the mountain we plodded leaving Long Mountain Wayside behind. WAIT…is that what the mountain was called…Long Mountain? That would be on point!
On the way up I pulled my motivation from first day excitement. That was about to completely deplete when we stumbled onto Cole (Cold) Mountain. Oh my goodness…total replenishment!!!!!!!!!! Those views, that meadow, the wildflowers! Oh! Oh! Oh! What a treasure!
After that it was all downhill, literally speaking, not figuratively! 😏 We camped at Hog Camp Gap, a lovely meadow with old apple trees and oak trees. The water source was excellent and not many campers on Friday night which surprised and delighted me! Honestly, that whole dig a cat hole thing to go to the bathroom can be a little tricky in a crowded camp. Yeah, I know you can feel me here! 😀 😀
The next day we started with a climb out of the gap and it was up and down all day! This section does not mess around!
There were more rewards for our hard work …and blessed trail creators, thank you for the interspersed moments of pure trail bliss along this trek! The wildflowers were in bloom, gentle cool breezes lifted the stray hair out of my eyes, and the buzz of bees was the white noise I didn’t know I needed.
We pulled into the Seeley-Woodworth shelter early. I found a nice spot under an oak tree and proceeded to put up the tent, get water, and cook dinner…and 2:30 pm! The spring here is still flowing and we didn’t have any trouble gathering water regardless of our type of filter.
There was a boisterous group of college age folks…and I am guessing they were in an outdoor club as there were many of them. We had passed them earlier, spotting them on top of a huge boulder, and I thought, “awe, look at them out here laughing, loving, and enjoying life!” They finally pooped out around 11 pm like a bunch of worn out puppies. They were a cute bunch and I found them quite amusing…until I passed a bowl with remains of the their food in it right beside the trail the next morning as we hiked out. Little feckers! Be Bear AWARE!!
Day 3 started with another gorgeous meadow walk with views for miles. Then it was up, up, up to Spy Rock…and no picture I took does that place justice! You need to hike up there yourself!!
Back to bears…I spotted one on our way up to The Priest. I loved that! No pics, but what a beautiful site! 🐻
Of course, I would’ve missed the bear if that hill had been easy. Third day on the elevation profile looked not so bad. In reality, it was a “head-down, one foot in front of the other, every woman for herself” kind of day. 😂 A very long uphill to the Priest. The “processional” it was dubbed by one of my hiking companions. 😄 and Whew…the heat and humidity was on. We arrived at the shelter and had just enough time to get our tents up before it started raining. Not a deluge of rain, but always nice to be able to stay mostly dry while backpacking! The camp area is a fairy landscape and goes back forever. A mossy creek, rhododendron bushes, big boulders, and fog rolling through periodically created a magical space.
Summary of day 3: I fail at photos, but win at persistence and sheer grit. 🥵 No privy at The Priest and water source is low, but scoopable…if you use a pump you won’t have any issues. If you scoop, you should be fine, as well, as there are some small pools.
The last day we hiked up for a little bit, inhaling and exhaling deeply at the Priest summit as we were above a sea of active morning fog with sun rise lending some extra sparkle.
Then, back on the trail, it was down. And down. And down. I really wanted to ask Akela how much farther (long before it made any sense to do so). 😄 So, I held it in until my feet and thighs were screaming, ASK HER YOU IDIOT! 😂😂😂 I asked. She asked if I wanted the truth.
Nice one Akela…real smooth. 😂
Answer – 0.4 miles more…I pushed on. I did it. I can still walk today. Huzzah! Hike on!
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!
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. 😄
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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! 🙂
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! 😀
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! 🙂
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!