AT – VA Loft Mountain to South River Picnic Grounds

Midway through Fall and stuck deep in a pile of ungraded projects…and part 2 of my take-home mid-term from my grad class.  No wonder I want to stop everything and go back to summer!

Fond memories of backpacking in August with the Trail Dames of Maryland.  I am getting better at leading these backpacks…but I am no pro!  I love giving these women the opportunity to get out in the woods for a night or two.  and Honestly, what I get in return is so much more than I ever anticipate!

We backpacked the weekend of August 11 – 13, 2017.  Setting off from the Loft Mountain camp store, we promptly crossed paths with a rattlesnake…that I initially thought was dead.  Um…NOT DEAD! However, it was quite diplomatic and did not rattle at us, instead, after tasting the estrogen soaked air with its pink flickering tongue it very politely slithered across the trail and into the woods. R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

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The first day went uneventfully, but had some good ups and downs.  By the time we arrived at the first shelter we were beat!

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We had lunch by this beautiful waterfall

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Right after we had to climb a big hill…of course! These views don’t come for free! 🙂

I will say the first night was not my shining moment.  I had the WORST nightmare about a bear pushing in on my tent and trying to mouth my arm.  In my sleep, I thought “oh, Lola is tented right up the hill.  Let me yell loud enough to get her attention.”  And then, you know, I couldn’t make a sound because that is the way nightmares do you! So, I kept trying and this bear kept butting into my tent, and I couldn’t make a sound and it WAS SO REAL!!!!  and then finally, AAAAHHADAHLGOGGEOJ01%^#@856y27542uhfwiurhtfa;wp293456891205-9815 LOUD AND CLEAR! and my eyes shot open…nothing, I was staring at the ceiling of the tent, heart pumping wildly, ears pricked for any sound and then I  was like “holy crap, I just yelled out loud…I AM AN IDIOT! 😀 Oh my God, please, tell me that no one heard me…

Day 2 was a filled with bigger climbs and a bigger threat of rain.  The last climb to Hightop Hut was muggy and long.  Sheer exhaustion steered us straight to the shelter for a well deserved sit down before setting up tents, gathering water, and all the other little tasks that needed to be done.  And then there was thunder…okay, tents up NOW!  We were lucky that all of us had our tents up and were back in the shelter when the skies opened up for a beautiful thunderstorm.  It was truly lovely after walking in the hot, humid, sticky forest all day.

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Always nice to have a helping hand when navigating around downed trees! This is what makes Trail Dames great! 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Love ❤

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Breakfast at Hightop Hut

The final day we headed towards South River Picnic Grounds with absolutely gorgeous weather.  The thunderstorm and knocked out the humidity and walking was pleasant again.  We were a good team and found ourselves laughing out loud at some of the silly things we saw or did.

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Hightop may never be the same!

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More gorgeous views!

And then there was a dare to climb up on a pile of rocks.  And me being BoobOnARock…I did.  Hike On!

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BoobOnARock on a rock hahahaahaaaa! Photo credit to “Overkill”

Living it Up on the Loudoun Heights Trail

Mid-Week hikes are a luxury.  While the rest of the world shuffles off to work, the Maryland Trail Dames were getting ready to cross the 340 bridge by pulling our gloves, hats, and layers into place.  The crossing of the bridge would be the killer with traffic whizzing past blasting us with cold air and fumes.  A necessary evil in order to start climbing Loudoun Heights on the other side of the Shenandoah River.  At 10 am Wednesday morning it was bitter cold, yet bright and sunny, so we anticipated shedding some of those layers as we climbed almost 1000 feet to ridge!

The parking lot is a fee area, so pay the $10 bucks to support the NPS.  The pass is good for three days, so after I finish this post I might head back for another hike in the area! 🙂

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340 Bridge over the Shenandoah River looking towards West Virginia side

Once we crossed the bridge, we climbed the AT up, up, and up and as AnnaMarie would say “Suck it up, Buttercup”!  As expected a few layers came off!  Thelma, a fellow Trail Dame, suggested we take the orange trail first, then loop back on the blue trail.  Great suggestion!  The orange trail was extremely pleasant! It was a nice change from constantly going up.  It is level and well marked which allowed us to make good time with little effort!

In the summer, this hike would have only the views marked on the map…two at power lines, then another at Split Rock.  But in winter? Ahhhh…all the views you could want!  No leaves make mountain hikes even more glorious.

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Holy crap! I think my lips are purple! 🙂

The path became more rolling once we met up with the blue trail.  We went to the left, headed for Split Rock.  It all seems so easy…because the trail is going down to Split Rock.  The view here though is worth it!  and the women on the trail with me were so funny!

“Suck it up, Buttercup!”  became a repeated joke as we met each hill with gusto.  At each overlook we had a micromanager or two when it came to picture time…after being asked to tilt the camera this way and that way, and move to the right, then to the left I busted out laughing…”What is your job anyway???” Snorts of laughter permeated the air. 🙂  and don’t even let me start with the selfie stick…oh jees’…It was a good thing no one else was on the trail!

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Looking across at Maryland Heights

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View of Harper’s Ferry from Split Rock

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Like a Model Train Set!

After lunch at Split Rock, we climbed up to the ridge once more.  There were some sweaty faces in that last push to the ridge!  Then it was easy, a little rocky, but easy sailing on the blue trail and a quick trip down the AT back to the 340 bridge.

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Looking calm, cool, and collected…like they hadn’t even exerted themselves. 🙂

In the whole time we were on the mountain, we did not see any other hikers! So if one is looking for solitude on this hike, go on a weekday.  I have heard that on the weekends it can be crowded at Split Rock.  I totally get that because it is such a great place!

We finished at 2:30 and the sun never really made it over the ridge.  Still seemed like morning with the long shadows filling the valley.

Off to more chilly adventures! Hike On!

 

3/29/14 Another Cancelled Hike for the Trail Dames? Argh!

Well…this has turned out to be a hiking week BUST!

I had two hikes planned this week for the Maryland Trail Dames, one for Dames looking for a challenge and one for beginning hikers.  Both, yes, both got cancelled due to the weather!

On Wednesday, I had scheduled an 8.5 mile loop hike at Catoctin Mountain Park.  This is a strenuous loop which allows hikers to visit Chimney Rocks, Wolf Rock, Thurmont Vista, Hog Rock, and Cunningham Falls.  It is a beautiful stretch of trail.  On Tuesday, like much of the eastern seaboard, a weather system brought in snow.  It wasn’t very much snow, like 3 inches, but it froze overnight when the temperatures dropped into the teens.  This would make the steep climbs absolutely horrendous for those of us without microspikes.  On Wednesday, winds also became a factor with wind chills dropping to near zero.  So SLASH, SLASH, and it was cancelled.  So disappointing. 😦

But this is what we would have seen if we would have been able to go! 🙂

 

Chimney Rocks

Chimney Rocks

Today, Saturday, I had planned a nice gentle hike for Dames at Worthington Farm (part of the Monocacy Battlefield). When I scheduled the hike I imagined warm spring breezes, sunshine and spring flowers popping up along the trail.  In my head I could see the river flowing in a lazy fashion while birds flitted about singing to each other as they built their nests.  But NO, we have to endure this outlandish rainy weather that has resulted in flood warnings!  Guess hiking next to the river was out of the question. SLASH! Another one bites the dust!

However, let me just give you a little glimpse of what delights awaited us if we could have gone!

View of Baker Valley

View of Baker Valley

 

I am so bummed!  Just itching to get out with the Dames on an adventure!  Our next hike is scheduled for April 12 at Sky Meadows SP in Virginia.

If you are on the trail that day and see a bunch of women having the time of their lives, then stop and say hi! Guaranteed that bunch would be us!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

But you know what would be even better (if you are a woman over 18)?  You could join us!  http://www.meetup.com/Maryland-Trail-Dames/

Hike on!