May 28 Day 3 of Shenandoah Weekend!

Shhh…I did something totally against the rules today…sorry, sorry, sorry, it was a total blunder on my part, but no one saw us and we left NO trace.

More on that later.  Let’s start at the beginning.  Sidekick Pauli not wanting to get up!

At home she has hours of down time to kick back and relax.  Here in the campground she was on constant alert.  Add that to 7 up and down miles yesterday in the heat…and well, no smiles this morning.

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Don’t worry, once the “Bully Biscuits” were out, ALL was good! 😉

I gave her some down time by heading south to Loft Mountain.  She crashed in the back of the car and came out a new dog once we reached Loft Wayside.  Even so, I figured an easier day of hiking wouldn’t be a bad thing.

It looked like a pretty nice hike could be had by taking the Frazier Discovery Trail up to the AT, then loop around Loft.  Straight uphill, so much for taking it easy! We found a spring of nice, cool water, which Pauli immediately claimed for the next few minutes lapping furiously.

The Frazier Discovery Trail has some pretty cool rocks along it, but I wondered what else I was to possibly discover.  Mostly wooded, I continued to slog uphill.  It was already hot and it was only 8:30 AM!

Reaching the AT, I found an awesome outcropping where we took a short break before continuing along the AT.  Short because I could feel myself getting skin cancer out there on the rocks.  Seriously.  It.Was.Hot. (and super sunny)

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Summit Smooches are a Sidekick Pauli specialty!

The loop around Loft Mountain on the AT ended at the Amphitheater.  At which point I met up with a woman I had previously passed on the trail.  She was camping at Loft and wanted to do the Loop, but she couldn’t take her dog on Frazier Discovery Trail since DOGS ARE NOT ALLOWED!!! “Oh crap!” I exclaimed, “I just came up that way!”  Now, for most people, maybe they wouldn’t care that they had just done something like TAKE THEIR DOG IN A PLACE SHE WASN’T ALLOWED…but I felt really, really, guilty! But there was no sign.  I looked when I went back down the hill, because, seriously, it bugged me.  There was a sign for “no bicycles” but nothing about no dogs.  I can say, though, that my dog was on leash AND I cleaned up after her…left NO trace!  But now that I know, well, I won’t do it again.

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Back at the campsite, the neighboring campers came over and warned me about a deer that is especially aggressive towards dogs.  Apparently, this is the deer who has been stashing her baby fawn in the campground area.  I happened upon this fawn yesterday over by the Big Meadow picnic grounds.  I got a picture with a zoom!

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Anyway, good for the deer! This place had become a cluster…and so many people had dogs off leash without any kind of voice control. ergh…

When I was a kid at camp, one of the activities we did was to close our eyes and just listen, making note of the sounds heard.  I closed my eyes…wind in the trees, families conversing, buzzing, birdsong, rangers beeping at people out on the main road, motorcycles, Pauli turning over in the grass, and MusicMan’s radio…Hike On!

 

May 27 Day 2 of Shenandoah Weekend!

Appalachian Trail Day: Pinnacle Picnic Grounds to Mary’s Rock

5:30 am, why is it that I cannot sleep in???

Put some water on to heat for tea with my little Esbit stove, then attended to Sidekick Pauli.  She refuses to eat plain kibble when we camp.  Don’t worry, I spiced it up with some doggie yum. 🙂

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Do you spoil your dog much? 

Headed out to Pinnacle Picnic Grounds to hike the section of the AT to Mary’s Rock (and back).  Full disclosure here…I didn’t want to run into any bears in the woods with Sidekick Pauli.  I didn’t know how she would react.  So part of my choosing this hike is because it is up on a ridge, and I figured the bears would be down low munching up all the green stuff they could find.

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Headed to Mary’s Rock (and back)

Even so, setting off down the trail at just after 7 am, I was verbally pointing out all the sights to Sidekick Pauli!  “Oh, look at that flower! Did you see the fog hanging in the top of that tree?” hahahaaaa  …and so on!

We didn’t run into any bears along the trail, thank goodness!  Although, after the hut, there was bear scat. That sent me, again, into Chatty Kathy mode for awhile.

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Looking north towards Mary’s Rock from the Pinnacle

This section of the AT has some beautiful views.  It also has some nice ups and downs! The day felt much warmer than it was as we rolled along the ridge towards Mary’s Rock.  However, I am marking this section as one to come back and do in the fall.  It would be absolutely stunning with the fall colors.

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Just so we are clear that this is the AT

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At Mary’s Rock

Sidekick Pauli had a delightful time meeting everyone on the trail EXCEPT stupid people with dogs.  There is a leash law for a reason people.  And don’t look at me like my dog is the problem!!!

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Sidekick Pauli at Mary’s Rock

 

Anyway, no reason to get too hot under the collar because we, well I, was already sweating buckets by the time we had hiked back to Pinnacle Picnic Grounds.  I was so hot, I literally soaked my head down before driving back to Big Meadows.  Ahhhhh refreshing!

So another micro-section of the AT completed! Hike on!

1st Day of Break…Airdry at Rivermist?

Monday. Disappointment for some, but for me? My first day of break…ahhh…two whole weeks before summer session begins.  And the sun! It’s back!
I poured a cup of coffee and traced my steps back to the dining room table. Plans for the day moved in and out of focus as I sipped that life giving elixer. Yes, a perfect morning.  hmmm…

What was that God awful stench? Turning my head slightly it hit me like an open sewer.  PAULI! WHAT THE HECK? I JUST GAVE YOU A BATH! OMIGAWD YOU SMELL *insert gag reflex* …JESUS! GET OUTSIDE!!!

Pulling some heavy duty paper towels out of the box and dipping them in hot water, I did my best to remove most of the offensive matter.  But that sharp stench wasn’t giving up without a fight!

Now, I had a plan.  Get out of the house! I had a few things to wrap up at school…let me just do that.

Fast forward 4 hours…

Back to the house, grab stinky Sidekick Pauli and head for Central Dawgma to give her a bath! Then to Rivermist Park for a walk and doggie air dry. The plan had come into full focus.

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Look how freaking adorable she is!

Rivermist Park has a walking trail that is perfect for folks new to walking on trails or who are looking for a quick stroll or those who walk with wheels or families with young children on trikes OR those with a dog that just got an emergency scrub down and need said dog to dry!!!
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It’s really a pretty nice little trail. Completely paved, but there are several dirt surface spurs to the Monocacy River. Walking along the trail with the trees leafed out and grasses growing wildly, it feels much more remote than it is actually.

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Big buffer between trail and townhouses

The trail is just down the hill from Walmart on Rt. 26 in Frederick. There is a place to put into the river here and the trail starts just under the Monocacy Blvd overpass.

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Looking back at parking area


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The muddy Monocacy River

Lovely variety of birds…a friend of mine came owl spotting here and was successful! Me? I saw no owls, but I don’t really hunt for them. When I see one, or when one decides to bless me with its presence, it’s magic…and obviously, is a symbol of some sort in my life…hahaaa!
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We walked, the dog and I, to the end of the trail which is in a neighborhood, then turned around and walked back.

Hurrah, the dog is dry! And guess what? Coldstone is right around the corner! Yes, I do deserve it. Hahaaaa! Hike on!

Shenandoah NP – Dickey Ridge Trail (10 miles)

Quick before it starts raining again, let’s go hiking!  I was all set to meet my hiking gals at the north end of the Dickey Ridge Trail (just outside of Shenandoah NP).  Arriving a bit early, I busied myself with pulling on my boots, putting stuff in my pack, then leaned back in my seat to wait. BearSpray and Lola had pulled up behind me and parked. I happened to look up and “Oh, A BEAR!!!”  I waved frantically at BearSpray hoping she see the bear too! She only caught the tail end of it as it lumbered into the woods.  😦

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Welcome to the park!

WELL, I have to tell you that got my hopes up very, very high for seeing another bear on our hike!

When the full crew had arrived we shuttled to the south end of the trail at Compton Gap.  It was colder and windier than some of us had anticipated…fur lined gloves anyone?

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The badass Fashionista! and that little crocheted knapsack…adorbs!

So off we went into the woods, following a fire road to the beginning of the Dickey Ridge Trail!

I was hoping for wildflowers…and a view or two.  Turns out the first mile was just trail and woods, a few common purple flowers, and wind.  But so beautiful! The green in the forest was so fresh, and the blue of the sky was sublime.  I kept optimistic!  Spring had come late to my neck of the woods in Maryland, so I knew there was a chance I wouldn’t see much spring in the mountains.  But still, it’s Mid May!!!

I was rewarded intermittently.  Walk for awhile, then ooooo ahhhhhh, click click with the camera phone, move on!

 

Coming down into Low Gap, another trail crossed ours.  There was no sign post, and we stopped for a minute wondering whether there might be a view if we took the trail to the left.   We opted to move forward on the Dickey Ridge crossing Skyline Drive and up the next hill.  I am still thinking about that trail to the left, though.  I feel like someone had mentioned that trail to me before…but it’s gone now.  Note to self to go back and explore later!

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S.I. Buttercup on her way down into Low Gap

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BearSpray keeps watch, while Lola checks the map 🙂

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Up the hill after Low Gap

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Smirk of Satisfaction after making to the top!

The wind blew us openings in the trees now and then allowing us to view the valley below us.  Beautiful! A winter hike would afford some amazing vistas from this trail!

After several miles, we were wondering whether we would get an open view at all.  After passing the Snead Farm Loop trail, there was a side trail that went steeply up.  It looked promising so Buttercup and I made our way up and…nothing.  Well, not nothing.  We saw this building.  Later I found out this was an FAA site (from the map).

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FAA site on Dickey Hill

Buttercup headed back down, then so did I …but then started yelling down to her “to the right, to the right!!!!!! Buttercup, to the right!” Yessssss! A payoff after walking through the enchanted green forest!

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Looking down on BearSpray from our perch above! Lunch spot!

We were enraptured.  Buttercup and I sat up on the hill, withstanding the cold wind while we ate our lunch, completely mesmerized with the view.  BearSpray eventually came up to join us from below and was equally blown away (with wind and view)!

This spot is only about a mile and a half south of the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center, so very doable! One does need to climb up the hill, but seriously, worth it.

When we had gotten so cold we couldn’t stand it any longer we got back to trekking down the trail. Next stop the visitor center, then down the hill to our cars.

The last mile or so was surprisingly different and wonderful!

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The trail follows a gurgling stream (especially vocal after the rain we’ve had)…happy home for turtles.

The birds were singing, families were out exploring, and there was a feeling of absolute contentment along this stretch.  I felt I was being replenished after going up and down all those hills. 🙂

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The end of a wonderful trek in Shenandoah NP!

Sadly, no more bear sightings on today’s hike…but there is always next time! 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! 🙂

Not Quite Spring, Not Quite Winter! A Stroll in Shenandoah NP

Cruising along Skyline Drive it occurred to me that maybe this hike wasn’t going to be the hike I had conjured up in my mind yesterday.  At that time, I sat on the edge of my bed, maps spread out around me and Sidekick Pauli sprawled  beside me catching rays from the afternoon sun.

Now I found myself facing mountains that still showed vestiges of winter.  I  pulled over no less than three times along the drive just to look, gaze in wonderment, lost in the beauty of Shenandoah.  I decided we would hike where the snow still lingered.

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I want to go there! Right there, on top of that snowy mountain!

I had been headed to Elkwallow Wayside, but stopped short when I got to Overall Run Falls trail head.  Yes!  We ARE STOPPING RIGHT HERE!!!  The trees were all sporting a fresh layer of rime and the trail was perfect with about an inch and a half of dry snow.  Oh, it was gorgeous! Like *gasp* gorgeous!

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Not the best pic…but the only good pic of the rime on the trees!

I took a look at the map and started down the AT to Elkwallow, I would decide whether to backtrack or loop once I got there.  Sidekick Pauli was hiking with me today and is still sporting a pretty good scar down her neck…so it just depended on how she was doing when we got to Elkwallow.

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Oh boy! Into the woods!

The AT to Elkwallow Wayside is a fairly moderate hike with a view that was nice!  Sidekick Pauli scrambled up the rocks and stared into the distance with satisfaction.  Oh, she was definitely happy to be back on the trail! This was our only overlook, although, there were nice forest views along the way.  We passed over Skyline Drive on the AT, then headed slightly up before passing the PATC Range View cabin and descending to Elkwallow Wayside.

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At Elkwallow, we took a detour down to the picnic area…for a pit stop.  While I was, um, otherwise engaged a family had driven up to also use the bathroom. Apparently, this was the only bathroom open in the area.  When Sidekick Pauli and I exited the bathroom they just lost it.  They were gabbing away in a language not understood by me.  They were simply in fits!!  I didn’t get it, what the heck, haven’t they seen something like this before???  I heard their laughter and felt their pointing until we disappeared into the woods.  Haha! Glad I could add something to their Shenandoah memory!! 😀

Sidekick Pauli was loving it!  I decided to loop down to Matthews Arm campground, then climb back up to the AT via the Traces & Tuscarora Overall Run Trails.  The weather had warmed a bit and there was no snow on the Elkwallow Trail down to the campground.  A nice picnic on a damp log awaited us!  Sidekick Pauli gobbled down several of Queen V’s home made doggie treats!!  I made do with a PB&J.  🙂

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I didn’t make it … but I didn’t destroy it either. I enjoyed the oddity of it as I made my way down the Elkwallow Trail.

The birds were rocking out while we sat there in the middle of the otherwise quiet woods.  Lovely to listen to but my butt was getting wet…time to move!

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YAY! we don’t have to rock hop across the creek. 🙂 I think Sidekick Pauli is disappointed…

Soon after crossing the bridge we reached Matthews Arm campground.  We found the Traces Trail after crossing the parking lot.  This trail starts to climb, and the climb goes on, and on.  Maybe it was because I left this piece of trail for last…but man, oh man,  that climb!  Between 800 and 1000 feet!  To say I was happy to reach the snow line would be an understatement! Whew!!

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Ahhh, yes! Finally! Jees…why did that hill feel so long? Oh, 800 feet of slippy, slippy…got it!

I reached the car and began getting ready for the drive home.  Took off the layers, traded out the hiking boots for sandals, did a few not helpful stretches, grabbed the cheezits…

While storing my bag, boots, and clothes in the back of the car, a ranger pulled up.  “Hey, just wanted to let you know there is some weather coming in overnight so we are going to be closing Skyline Drive.”

No problem, ranger! We are ready to go!  Hike on!

Breaking Out of the February Funk!

Even though February is the shortest month, it certainly seems to last forever. As I wait for the daffodils to arrive, however, a gift arrived! A gift only Mother Nature could give to us winter weary Marylanders.  (seriously, our winter has been incredibly mild except for that outburst of sheer crazy a few weeks ago, so I don’t really know why it feels like we need to rush on to Spring …but it does!!)  Anyway, a gift! A weekend that tempted us with delightfully spring like weather.  The birds were singing, the ice was melting, rivers flooding, and I ran for the hills.

I jumped the gun a bit and headed out on Friday when the weather only hinted at warmth that would not come until Saturday.  The smell of fresh mud permeated my nostrils as soon as Sidekick Pauli and I exited the car at Worthington Farm, part of Monocacy National Battlefield.  However, heading up Brooks Hill we found snow and ice.  Not enough for traction devices on my boots, but enough to require picking our way along at a snail’s pace until we got about half way up the hill.  Then the trail was dry!

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View of Baker Valley from Brooks Hill

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Bottom of the Hill…Again with the snow!

Of course, we again encountered the tricky stuff on the way down, but the day was just gorgeous.  You know when the breezes are not quite as chilling and almost feel warm?  That is how it was!  We would be chilly, then rounding a bend in the trail meet with a warmish puff of air.  Very exciting!  After coming down Brooks Hill, we rounded Ford’s Loop by the Monocacy river.  Super gooey, suck your boots off muddy!  The river had just recently receded into its proper banks and left debris and mud on the trail.  A sure sign of Spring!!!

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Sidekick Pauli surveying the flood plain

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Still high water! Sidekick Pauli was not pleased…this is where her beach usually is!

So that was fun.  Saturday came the real delight though! 65 degrees!!!!!! Wazooo!  Oh my gawd, let’s all go hiking!!!  I had errands in the morning, so I set off for Cunningham Falls State Park at about 2:30 pm.  Parking my car at the Catoctin Furnace on the east side of route 15, Sidekick Pauli and I followed the Catoctin Furnace Trail through the woods and over the pedestrian bridge to pick up the Catoctin Trail up to Bob’s Hill overlook.

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Glad I didn’t have to cross Little Hunting Creek today!

This is not a long hike, but a steep one!  After crossing the pedestrian bridge follow the creek to the Catoctin Trail.  It is a right turn up the hill and steep right from the get go!  The trail was slushy, but not terribly difficult to maneuver.  The trail gives hikers nice breaks between the steep sections, leveling out for awhile where one can meander along as if no effort was needed at all to climb to such a height.  Then, of course, just as you get comfortable, the trail heads back up again!

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This was the perfect place to hike on this Spring preview day!  I only saw a handful of other hikers (and I bet Shenandoah NP was packed!)

But was I done with this weekend???? NOOOOOOOO! Even though it rained off and on come Sunday, I was not going to stay inside.  Okay, well, I was…but then as I came out of Joanne’s Fabrics down on 40, I glanced at the mountains. Their summits were so beautifully draped in fog that I could not resist!  I turned down 40 headed for Gambrill State Park hoping to walk through the woods with the mist swirling about me.

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CCC Memorial in Gambrill State Park

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I was ecstatic, just magical.

What an absolute wonderful gift this weekend has been. Almost March! Hike on!

Blockhouse Point Conservation Area

Blockhouse Point is a great little park in Montgomery County, Maryland.  Sidekick Pauli helped me scout this hike so I could lead a group here.  By the way, those of you who read the last post of mine know that Sidekick Pauli went in for surgery for a lump that grew rather quickly on her neck.  Her surgery went great and they were able to get all cancerous tissue out!!  So it was cancerous, but prognosis is fantastic!  She will probably be scouting hikes with me for a long time to come! 🙂 🙂

I visited Blockhouse Point on three different occasions to get the feel of the place since it was brand new to me.  The first time my son and niece tagged along.  Of course, we were caught up  in conversation and got off on the wrong trail.  We had wanted to loop, but this trail did not do that.  Turns out we had gotten on the last leg of the Muddy Branch Trail! Made a note to look this trail up later for future adventures in MoCo!

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The second time was better planned out and Sidekick Pauli was in tow!  We headed down the Canyon Trail, crossed over to Blockhouse Point Trail, then out to Blockhouse Point.  This was before Sidekick Pauli’s surgery and she was delighted to pull me along the trail smelling all things new and exciting.  I was expecting a little more of an overlook, but the views of the river were tremendously satisfying!  Pauli was a little antsy, so I let her lead us back to the car instead of heading out to the second overlook on the Paw Paw trail.  It looked a bit cloudy and felt like a storm was moving in. Sure enough as soon as we got to the car, the skies opened up!  Thank you, Sidekick Pauli, for keeping me dry!!!

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The third visit I practically ran down the trails.  I wanted to scout out the Paw Paw overlook.  I am so glad I did.  It is definitely the nicer overlook.  Expansive views of the river to the northwest.  Very understandable why this point was used in the Civil War.  Another neat feature is the C&O Canal is just below the bluffs, so you can “spy” bicyclists, walkers, and horse riders all day if you like while you sit high above on the rocks.  haha!

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I do need to advise that the Turkey Fan Trail has been rerouted.  This caused me a little confusion the first time out there… not hard to figure out…just weird trying to put together where exactly you are on the Blockhouse Point Trail if you have never been to the area.  So a heads up!

Also, I’ve heard there is a way to do a big loop by following an unmarked trail behind Calithea Horse Farm, then pick up the C&O Canal.   Walking south on the canal to Pennyfield Lock, then up the Muddy Branch Greenway Trail.  Hmmm…more trails to explore!

And while I do like winter…I think I will wait for Spring! Hike on!

 

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!

 

AT-PA Rt. 501 to Swatara Gap Rt. 72

The last section of Pennsylvania!!! Woot!

It wasn’t clear whether I was going to be able to get this state done before the end of the year.  I was determined, however, and put an all out call to any of my Facebook friends who might want to do this last 12 miles with me…and one of them said YES!!!!

My friend, Lola, and I opted outside on Black Friday!  I had to leave pretty early from Frederick, Maryland to get to Swatara Gap by 8:15 am.  I pulled up beside the iron bridge with time to spare…only to notice that there are new signs declaring cars will be towed.  Well, this is new to me.  The last time I was here it was okay to park on the side of Rt. 72…NO MORE!  So when Lola cruised in behind me a few minutes later we backtracked, going around to the back of the creek, on the old State Road, in order to park in the “real” parking lot.  Just an fyi folks…no parking on Rt. 72 anymore! (maybe it was always illegal…but lots of people did it, including me, and never got a ticket or anything)

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Ready to go! Last section of PA underway!

With one car properly parked, we headed to 501 to begin the last section of PA for me!!! This day was meant to be.  Warm temps, blue skies, …Black Friday?  Felt like an early spring day!

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We were greeted with a fantastic view just south of 501.  After that it was pretty decent hiking (with the understanding that it is Pennsylvania and there are the regular amount of rocks along the way).

A nice sunny spot was waiting for me at the William Penn Shelter.  I took the opportunity to soak up the sun while chomping on a crisp apple…oh the delights of fall.  “What the heck?…Oh, my phone.”  It was in my right pocket and digging into my hip in a way that was none too comfortable, so I rolled to my left hip and yanked it out.  Apparently, my chapstick felt the need to also exit my pocket in a leap for freedom and promptly fell through a crack in the floor of the shelter to the ground below.   The one item I hated to lose.  *sniff*  “Bye-bye chapstick…so sad you are gone.” 😦

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Moving on, the trail resumed the regular rocky until after the old powerline view.   For about a quarter mile there are some bigger rocks which required a bit of rock hopping.  “Come on rocks, dance with me!” I muttered under my breath as I tipped forward, then backwards, on one of the looser specimens.  At this point, I looked to my left and right.  I stopped, calling back to Lola, who was doing a bit of dancing of her own.  “Look at that” I exclaimed, pointing to the woods beside the trail.  “Do you see ANY rocks over there???”  It was a rhetorical question, as there were NO rocks to be seen anywhere EXCEPT where we were walking…teetering…whatever. Oh, Pennsylvania, you amuse me…

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1000 miles going southbound!

It seems my feet have gotten soft since my backpack in PA this summer.  As we approached the steep downhill into Swatara Gap, they were quite vocal in their disapproval of this 12 miles!  When I stepped onto the road, after following the trail underneath I-81, it felt so good! Level ground, no rocks!

Whelp! PA section is complete!

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Yessss!!!! FINALLY FINISHED PENNSYLVANIA!

It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, and there are some sections I would love to do again!  I loved this state most for the people who hiked it with me.  Dirigo, Python, Google, CanDo, Queen V, Lola and many other women I met through Trail Dames.  Also, my brother, Albie, who hiked a portion of the trail between Pine Grove Furnace and Caledonia SP with me. He showed me that I could do a 15 mile day! Brothers are awesome!! 🙂 🙂

On to Virginia and softer trails! Hike On! 🙂