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

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Hike 4: Beaverdam Park

This past weekend, my husband and I went for a quick weekend getaway to the Tidewater area of Virginia.  I've been traveling to this area of Virginia my whole life.  My family has property there that has been in the family for generations. Even though we were on a mini vacation, I still wanted to get a hike in.  I found Beaverdam park located in nearby Gloucester, VA that had several different trail options.
Once again the weather was on our side.  The temperature reached 60 degrees and the sun was shining.  There are several trails at the park of varying mileage so you can really tailor your hike to your needs.  There is a trail for hikers only and trails that are considered multi use meaning horses and bikers are also permitted on the trail.  We opted to start out on the hiking only trail which is about 3 miles.

Most of the trail runs along the edge of the Beaverdam Reservoir.  There were quite a few boaters out fishing.  Beaverdam is apparently the only freshwater fishing hole in the Middle Peninsula of VA.  I'm used to the saltwater fishing on the rivers and bay in the area.  Unlike the trails at home in Pennsylvania, the trail here had very few inclines, and the ones it had were short and not too steep.  There were no rocks either, but there were areas where the tree roots stuck up across the path.  I think I almost prefer rocks as those roots seemed to pop up out of no where under the leaves.
When hiking the hiker only trail, you can either return on the same trail, or you can choose to return on the multi use trail.  My husband and I decided to take the slightly longer multi use trail return since the weather was gorgeous.

As the sign says, take caution on the multi use trail, there might be poop.
I've hiked trails that are considered multi use, but I've never encountered more than one or two cyclists.  On this trail, we actually encountered 4 different horses- and 2 of them more than once.  There were also many people on bikes.  I'm going to take this moment to mention a PSA about courtesy on the trail as it seems to be something a lot of people need help with (here anyway).  The rule is: Everyone yields to horses
Bikers and joggers yield to hikers and downhill hikers yield to uphill hikers (unless I'm the uphill hiker then I use the moment to catch my breath and let the others pass).  I want to stress the horse thing.  I know there are a lot of people who do not have horse knowledge.  If you are hiking or biking and come upon some horse back riders, step off the trail to let them pass.  Be visible and ask the riders if you're in a good spot.  Some horses spook at the strangest things, and if they haven't realized you're there and you scare them, it could cause a situation where a rider is thrown or someone is kicked.  Cyclists- this means don't ride up on a horses butt.  I saw a family out riding bikes that rode right up on a horse.  The kids were lucky the horse only picked up speed because if the horse had kicked, it would have surely hit one of the kids.
Anyway, it was a very nice hike.  It was warm and it smelled like earth and pine.  We were actually pretty tired from the hike, though we are pretty out of shape.  This one completed one of my hikes to a body of water.  I have 1 more left of those, and I already have an idea of where I'd like to go for that second one (it involves looking for shark teeth fossils).  I've completed 2 of my 5 waterfall hikes as well.  I still have a bunch of challenge objectives to complete, but we have 48 more hikes to go!
On a side note, Beaverdam Park is a great place to visit for the day if you're in the area.  It has very clean bathrooms, boat rentals, picnic areas and of course the trails.  Our family will definitely be visiting again!.

The funny thing about this, my husband's name is Ernie.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Cascade Falls: Hike #3

Last week the temperatures warmed up to the 50's, so we headed out to someplace different.  We opted to make the hour drive to Patapsco Valley State Park to see if the waterfall located in the park was still frozen. Cascade Falls as it's known, descends down a 10-15 foot face, and is reached by the Cascade Trail located near the parking lot in the Orange Grove Area of the park.  Patapsco Valley State Park is pretty special to me for many reasons: I grew up going to this park when I was a kid, my great-uncle (who was like a grandfather to me) was a superintendent of the Park back in the day, and I was married in the park (I even hiked to the falls in my wedding dress).  So, because I had extra prepaid admission passes I had purchased for the wedding, we headed to the outskirts of Baltimore.

 The Cascade Trail is about 2.5 miles.  The beginning of the trail makes one think the entire hike might be too strenuous, but it isn't.  After the initial climb up the hill (really not bad- remember I did it in my wedding dress), she begin to see some of the rapids before finally coming to the falls.  It's a popular place in the summer as families like to splash around in the pool at the falls' base.  Turns out it's just as popular in the winter.  Despite having a couple of warm days, the falls were still mostly frozen.  You could see the water rushing behind the ice, but the rocks were coated with ice and the pool at the base was frozen solid.  Usually my journey along the trail ends at the waterfall, but we wanted a longer hike so we continued along the trail. 

We followed the stream that feeds Cascade Falls.  It was ice crusted, but not frozen solid probably because of it's fast movement and the few warmer days.  The trail was also incredibly muddy.  A good moment to mention Leave No Trace- it's better to go through mud than around it.  If everyone starts going around, you make a new trail and that's not really a good thing.  So make sure you wear shoes you won't be upset about getting full of mud.
We continued along and eventually reached the far end of the trail that butts up to some houses and another parking area for the trail.  Here the trail makes a large loop before joining back to the original trail and heading back down to the falls.

Once we were back to the parking lot where we started, a couple of us headed across the iconic swinging bridge to the other side of the Patapsco River.  We were looking for a spot to be able to walk down to the water's edge and rinse off our boots.
Did I mention that the trail was super muddy?
The swinging Bridge does "swing", or rather, it bounces a little as people walk across it.  Back when I was a kid, it would really sway and bounce.  Then someone fell to their death and the bridge was redone in a way to make it have less movement.  The bridge was built as a replica of one that spanned the river in the 1800's and allowed employees of the mill to get to work.

At the river's edge, there were a lot of ice piles deposited by the river.  They were all several inches thick.  Had we managed to get to the park before the warmer weather, we would have seen a frozen river, or at least witnessed some ice flows. 

Maybe we would have even seen a couple of penguins and a polar bear riding the ice flows as well.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Hike Number 2: Hashawha


For my second hike, I headed out to a local Environmental Center that has several trails.  I hike here often as it's close, offers a nice bathroom in the Nature Center and has enough trail options to be able to tailor your hike to several different mileage lengths.
The weather was still cold.  I think the dashboard temperature reading showed 12 degrees.  I'm pretty much over the frigid temperatures.
The small pond at the beginning of the trail was frozen pretty thick.   I don't know what it is about frozen water and the way it whispers to you, "Come on, walk on my, I'm solid."  I always manage to resist because, you know, hypothermia. We ended up doing what has become our usual hike at Hashawha that is about 3 miles long.  It takes us past the raptor cages where I always hoot a greeting to the resident owls.  They don't hoot back, in fact, one turned his back on me.  The lower portion of the trail follows a stream before coming to the larger pond on the property that you cross using a series of boardwalks.  There were still icy patches on the stream, and one section looked pretty cool with the water running under the ice.  It was cold, but the sun was strong, so I was almost sweating towards the last portion of the trail.  As always, I was pleased I had pushed myself to go.  It seems every time it's cold out, I start talking myself out of going outside.  But in the end, getting some exercise in the outdoors helps clean out some of the winter head fog.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Hike 1 of 52: The 52 Hike Challenge

I don't really make New Year's Resolutions anymore, but I do make goals for myself to try to accomplish in the coming year.  One of those goals is to try to hike every week at least once.  So I signed up for the 52 Hike Challenge.  
There are three different challenge options.  The first is just committing to hike 52 hikes (1 for each week of the year) anywhere you like to hike.  The second option is the adventure series and the third is the explorer series.  I opted for the Adventure series.  

It asks you to complete these 17 specific types of hikes within your 52:
  • 5 Waterfalls (even if they are dry)
  • 1 Forest (if not possible, go to National Park/ Site)
  • 1 National Parks, Monuments, Preserves, Recreation Area or Historic Trail
  • 2 Hikes to bodies of water: Lakes, Rivers, or Ocean
  • 1 Stewardship hike (pick up trash or join group to help with a restoration project)
  • 1 Group hike (if you are regular to one group, visit a new group to meet new people)
  • 1 Introduce someone new to hiking (on an easy trail)
  • 1 Sunset or Sunrise hike
  • 1 Hike from your Bucket list (somewhere you have always wanted to go)
  • 3 Reflection hikes (journal at the beginning, middle, and towards the end of your challenge).

The weather here, as with much of the East Coast, has temperatures in the teens.  My area hasn't gotten too much snow, really just about an inch with the "Bomb Cyclone" that came up the coast.  Still, those temps in the teens have kept me in the house. So, I missed the First Day Hike because of the weather.  This made me more determined to get the first hike of 52 accomplished. 
Because the temperature was supposed to rise to the 20's (balmy compared to the weather we've been having), my husband, mother and I planned a short hike.  So yesterday we headed out to Cunningham Falls State Park to do a short mile hike to Cunningham Falls.

I don't think the temperature ever reached 20 degrees.  And I'm pretty sure my husband asked me 5 times if I was sure I really wanted to hike.  But I was/am determined.  So we headed down the trail.  I wanted to get a look at the waterfall frozen.  The trail is only a 1 mile round trip trail.  I'm horribly out of shape and didn't want to push it- plus it was cold. 
It didn't take long to get to the falls.  It was cool to see it frozen, though it wasn't as spectacular as some other ones I've seen photos of. We took a few photos and then headed back towards the car.  We all said we could have gone longer, but the other trail option was more difficult with steeper inclines.  Since I'm so out of shape, I felt it was best to stick with the easier trail.

It felt great to get outside.  Hiking definitely helps clear out the brain funk when you're stuck inside in the winter.  I'm looking forward to the next hike
Me on "Little McAfee Knob"

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Caledonia to Old Forge Road

This past Saturday, we went on an extended day hike from Caledonia south to Old Forge Road parking area which is just past the Tumbling Run Shelters.  We had originally planned an overnight trip from Caledonia to Pen Mar Park, but Sunday's weather was calling for heavy rains, high wind and temperatures dropping into the low 40's.  I don't know anyone who would willingly sleep and hike in that weather, so we changed our plans and opted to complete the first leg of the journey.  It fulfilled one of Chuckwagon's (my son) 10 mile hike requirements for his hiking merit badge, and got us out in nature away from stress.
We met up with a thru hiker at the bathroom off the parking lot in Caledonia.  He was headed south after reaching Katahdin and finding it closed for the season.  He was heading south to Georgia where he intended to turn around and hike back to Maine.  To each their own.
Our hike started out easy enough as it meandered through some laurel hedges.  I was feeling good.  the weather was great for hiking, and the terrain wasn't too difficult.  But that wouldn't last.  We hit our first gradual incline not long after crossing route 30.  As uphills go, this one wasn't too bad, but I'm discovering that the gradual inclines are the worst for me.  Like old joints can tell when rain is coming, my butt injury can detect even the slightest change in elevation.  I made it to the end of the hill without too much trouble.  I just take my time.  It isn't a race so I just go at a comfortable pace.

Eventually we came to a much bigger elevation change over a short distance.  These I find more fun than overwhelming.  Chuckwagon was the first one to head up.  So we all scrambled up to the top of the ridge.
This is one area that shows exactly why Pennsylvania's other name is Rocksylvania.  There were rocks and boulders strewn every where.  For the most part, the rocks weren't really a problem at all.  It made for some more interesting terrain.
There are rocks all along the ridge of South Mountain, something that must be a common occurrence in the area. These rocks contribute to one of the many paranormal stories I've been slowly collecting over the past few years for a book I hope to manage to one day write.  There was a highwayman known to roam the area of Central Pennsylvania, and he made the caves and crevices in the mountains his hideouts.  He was known to the locals as somewhat of a "robin Hood" character who sometimes used money from his heists to assist those who were less fortunate.  He was eventually captured.  There are two different stories associated with him.  One is that there is a cache of money. around $10,000 worth, still stashed somewhere in the Caledonia/Michaux area.  The highwayman apparently hid the money in one of the caves along the mountain ridge and was captured before being able to claim it.  I considered poking around in some of the crevices, but figured I was more likely to stumble upon a rhumba of rattlesnakes (really, that's the correct term for a grouping of rattlers).
The other story associated with our North American East Coast Robin Hood is that his ghost is known to still ride in the Central Pennsylvania areas where he was known to roam.  So perhaps one night while you're sleeping in your shelter, you might hear horses hooves approaching.  If you're quick enough you might catch a fleeting glimpse of the highwayman riding and protecting his lost fortune.
We never saw a thing, which was disappointing.
We continued our travels on the ridge.  At this point, Chuckwagon was starting to talk about lunch.  Honestly, he was talking about eating after about the first 20 minutes of the hike.  The granola bar he snacked on apparently wasn't enough to hold him over.  We planned on stopping at the Rocky Mountain shelter for lunch, but we ended up stopping at an area off the trail mostly because Chuckwagon was getting a little hangry.  We picked a spot where someone had set up a fire ring and had some log seats.  I don't know why peanut butter and jelly tastes so much better eaten on the trail, but it does.
Once lunch was done, we headed back onto the trail. It wasn't long before we hit more inclines.  Perhaps it was because my muscles had stiffened while sitting and eating lunch, but I was having a harder time during the second half of the hike.  The gradual changes in elevation were kicking my butt.  I was exhausted, and I was in pain.  I was thinking in my head that I was done with the whole hiking/backpacking thing.  We eventually made it to Chimney Rock, and the view was worth the the long hike.  We dropped our packs and climbed up Chimney Rock to see the view.  We took a few minutes to take some photos and rest.  We were nearly back to the car, but we had a steep hill to hike down.  The elevation change is about 900 feet change over about 1 mile.  It was rough going most of the way.  My mom and Chuckwagon went on ahead of my husband and I.  We were losing light, and we were in a bit of pain.  I've never been so happy to see a parking lot in my life.

In total, our hike was actually 12 miles instead of the 10 we thought it was.  We all agreed that the weather forecast that forced us to change our overnight plans was a Godsend.  There was no way my husband and I would have physically been able to hike 10 more miles the following day, especially with 20-25 pound packs.  While I usually struggle with my old injury, it was not the source of my pain- which was new and surprising.  It did bother me while I was going uphill, but it stopped when the incline did, and that's something different- and positive.  My pain stemmed from being incredibly out of shape, and that's something that can be fixed.  Sometimes your life is so busy you feel tired and exhausted like you're doing all this physical exertion, but you really aren't.  So the lifestyle change has commenced, and the treadmill is getting cleaned off.  Our goal is to plan a hike each week/weekend of about 5 miles. Once we master 5 miles without feeling like dying in the woods, we'll add miles.  Here's to many more hikes to come!