Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve Green Trail

I am finally caught up with blogging our hikes.  This Sunday marked our 10th hike of the 52 hike challenge.  We chose to head out to the Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve to do one of their trails.  We have gone to this place a couple of times.  It has several trails to choose from that allows you to tailor your hike to your preferred length and difficulty.  I was happy taking our usual trip around the Swamp Trail that follows Swamp Creek, but my mom and husband wanted a longer hike (I'm still worried about the shape I'm in which is mostly roundish), so we ended up deciding to take the Green Trail which is longer and a little more difficult.  It branches off of the Swamp Trail and heads up on the ridge.

The weather was sunny but a little brisk at 40ish degrees with a steady wind.  I brought Lucy along on this hike to keep working on her hiking skills.  There were a lot of blow downs in the area, including one that was nearly impassible.  Luckily (I guess), there was another hiker coming up behind us who had been through the trail before and knew how to get around the tree.  Lucy learned quickly how to jump over the fallen logs.  It got to the point that she was trying to go off trail to jump random logs.  There was one blown down that was pretty high off the ground and was two separate trunks that she nearly flew over using one trunk to springboard over the other.

Though she learned to enjoy log jumping, Lucy seemed to be quite skittish on this hike.  Tree branches moving or snapping freaked her out.  It was like she was waiting for them to grow teeth and attack her.  Walking in deep leaves freaked her out too, though later she was chasing leaves that blew across our path.  She also doesn't like mud, so she cleared mud puddles with huge leaps.
Oh, and she doesn't really like stream crossings.  She dislikes them so much, she willingly used a fallen tree to cross the water.  Hopefully she gets over that, or trips to the beach and kayak rides are going to be really interesting.

Despite not really wanting to take the longer hike, I was glad that I did.  I've managed to lose a little over 13 pounds, and it's made quite the difference in my hiking.  I'm able to do hills without stopping every few steps.  I'm still fighting through aches and pains from my hip, knees and foot, but it's manageable.  Hoping to plan some backpacking trips once the weather gets a little warmer.  In the meantime, I'll keep building up my endurance, and then come home and crash- much like Lucy.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Caledonia State Park Hike #9

March 31st brought a gorgeous day for hiking.  It was great to be able to get outside in some decent weather.  Because it was so nice, I decided to take Lucy along to see how she would do on a longer trail.  Plus, she has a new training halter that's supposed to help with pulling.
Because we needed to stop at the Michaux State Forest Office, we headed out that way for a hike.  Our scout troop has a backpacking hike planned for the fall, and we need to get some permits and special permissions out of the way.  Unfortunately, the office was closed so we'll need to head back there again.
Since we were right there at Caledonia, we stopped in at their office and picked up a trail map.  We opted to hike along the Ramble Trail which was listed as a 2.2 mile more difficult hike.  It travels along a small section of the Appalachian Trail near the end.
The Park was full of people because it was the first day of trout season, so there were tons of anglers along Conococheague Creek.  We only passed a few people along the trail along with some dogs.  Lucy did really well on the hike.
She tackled her first stream crossing, though she wasn't too thrilled about it.  She really wanted to stay on dry land, but she did go across though somewhat reluctantly.  She wasn't pulling as much as she typically does, but I can't say for certain if that was the new harness or that fact that she was racing around the yard earlier in the day and was already tired. Either way, it made for a nice hike.  She keeps me moving forward and gives me something to focus on other than my aches and pains.  I had her clipped to my belt with a carbiner to allow me to be hands free.  That seemed to work really well except for the couple of times she heard or smelled something in the laurel shrubs and popped open the buttons on my pants.  Needless to say, we still have some work to do.  She needs to not get so excited about seeing people, other dogs or invisible creatures in the underbrush.
The hike overall was a pretty easy one.  We're thinking the "more difficult" designation was because of the length.  There was only one small hill, and it could barely be called a hill.  Despite not being very challenging, it was a very pretty hike on a very well maintained trail.  Total mileage was about 2.7 miles which included a short amount on the AT plus the walk back to the car.  I would definitely do this trail again despite (or because) it wasn't too hard.  There are a few other trails in Caledonia that are listed as most difficult and we're planning on going to check those out in the future.

And one of the best things about this hike was the stop at the Appalachian Brewing company on the way home.  We each got a beer and shared some spinach and artichoke dip.  
We voted to hike more in areas that let us stop off and grab a beer.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

St Patrick's Day Hike 8

St Patrick's Day weekend brought some sunny weather and my 4 year old grandson.  It's awesome that he's as into hiking and camping as we are, because it makes it easy to find things to do.  We recently purchased a used pop up camper, so we set that up in my parents back yard (it's a 6.5 acre back yard) and camped out in the "super great tent fort" all weekend.  Temps were in the 20's at night, but the camper heater worked really well.
On Saturday, we went for a hike at Hashawha.  We're getting a little tired of Hashawha because that seems to be the default hiking location, but they have an aviary with various birds of prey that are unable to survive on their own in the wild.  This let's my grandson see some wildlife up close.  Plus, there's a playground and a nature center, so it's a great place to take a 4 year old with a boatload of energy to burn off.
We hiked just under 3 miles by taking our usual route on the Vista and Green trails that took us by creeks and Lake Hashawha.  All four year olds love water, and my grandson is no exception.  I'm sure it will be even more fun when the weather is warmer and he can see some turtles, fish and snakes.  Still, he was thrilled looking for different animal prints.  Large dog prints were wolf prints, and my husband's boot print was an obvious sign of Sasquatch activity (this boy is seriously awesome).
At the end of our hike, we took some time to let the boy play at the playground.  It's amazing how a playground can give a 4 year old some renewed energy!  All in all, a decent hike.  It was good we managed to get this hike in, because just a few days later we ended up with 12+" of snow on the first day of spring.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Hike #7- Hashawha.... Again

For our 7th hike, we ended up at our faithful standby hiking destination: Hashawha Environmental Center.  I don't remember the exact mileage, but I'm guessing it was somewhere around 3 miles give or take. 
We took a short detour onto a longer trail, though we didn't follow it very far.  I was lucky enough to snap this photo.  Every now and then I get a lucky shot.  I think it shows just how quiet it is hiking through a grove of pine trees, which is one of my favorite things to hike through.
Here's hoping that spring will bring some nicer hiking weather (though so far that's been a bust).

Monday, April 2, 2018

Hiking a Battlefield

Trying to fit in a hike, we decided to detour to nearby Antietam Battlefield in Maryland to walk some of the historic area, enjoy the weather and get in a little hiking.  We also had Lucy with us, so it was going to be her first ever hike.
My favorite area of Anitetam is Burnsides Bridge.  It's a little off the beaten path, and there are several paths in that area that would allow for some mild hiking.  We opted to hike down to the bridge, across it, along Antietam Creek and up a hill to view the bridge from the ridge.  It was only a short 1-1.5 mile hike, but it was better than not hiking at all.  Lucy did pretty good, but we need to work on her leash skills.  She pulls quite a bit.  Hoping she manages to settle down and be a relaxing hiking partner.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Hike 5: Codorus State Park

Hike number five was just under 2 miles.  It was a brisk day with windchill around 9 degrees.  My mom and I headed to another local trail at Codorus State Park.  This one travels around Lake Marburg and passes by an old cemetery.  As you can see from the headstone, it is pretty old with one person laid to rest there who fought in the War of 1812 and was defending Baltimore when Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner.  Most of the original headstones have worn smooth or are broken, but there is a large marker in the center listing all the names of those who were interred there.

It was a chilly hike along the one side of the lake, but when we rounded the edge of the lake, the wind was no longer an issue and the sun was warming us up.  There's still plenty of ice around even with the slightly warmer temps we've been having.

You can see from the photo of the lake that we're in drought conditions here.  The lake is drained in the winter, but this is lower than I've ever seen it.
My husband skipped this hike because of dealing with a nasty cold.  We both missed hiking this weekend because of rain and needing to take some Boy Scouts to a merit badge college.  We'll have to try to get a short hike in this week with the dogs to get caught back up again (my mom managed to get her hike in)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The New Hiking Partner

I love the idea of having a 4 legged hiking companion.
I have 2 dogs, but neither one would make a good hiker.
One is 14 and having arthritis issues.
The other one, while physically fit, isn't the best around strange people or animals,
so not the easiest to work with.
I've been fostering for a rescue for a year now, and when I saw this girl, I knew.
Lucy is a Boston Terrier Mix.
I can't tell you what she's mixed with, 
her mom was around 18 pounds with pointy ears and brindle fur.
Her dad was a full Boston.
She's 100% spoiled brat.
She has a thing for sleeping under blankets.
I'm guessing I'll have to come up with a sleeping bag for her
when we're ready for overnights.
Right now we're working on house breaking, basic commands 
and leash manners.
She'll do anything for a treat.

She'll be completely up to date on all of her shots in 2 weeks.
For anyone hiking with dogs, it's a good idea to get all the shots-
including those for Lyme's disease and Leptospirosis
(Plus your Distemper, Parvo and Rabies)
before taking your dog out to public areas.
Make sure your dog has a decent flea and tick preventative.
I've always used Frontline Plus, but right now we have a free trial of Nexgard
(and I've heard from other hikers with dogs that it works great).
If you have a young dog like I do, or even an older dog who has never hiked before,
make sure you talk to your vet about how to go about getting started.
Young dogs should not go on any extreme hikes.
Lucy will most likely do a mile or less to start and on easy trails.
Puppies bodies are growing, and you don't want to strain any ligaments, tendons or cause problems with growing bones.
And with an older dog who might not be in shape, you want to start out small and build up their muscles and endurance-
the same as you would for yourself.
So, in the meantime,
Lucy will be working on her training,
and most likely her napping.
For those on Instagram, Lucy has her own IG account
(my husband thinks I'm nuts)
Lucy The Boston Mix