Monday, March 20, 2017

Happy Spring?

Just when I think I'm starting to get back into the regular hiking (and blogging) swing of things, Mother Nature decides to get a little witchy and throws 12+ inches of snow our way.  Last week starting Monday night, we had some snow.  It was quite a shock to the system after experiencing 60-70 degree days.  I mean, I even had the heat off and the windows open several days.  Then WHAM! (not the band) a crap ton of snow (yes, crap ton is an official measurement).
So yesterday when my mom suggested a short hike, I went.  It was sunny and in the 40's, so we headed to nearby Gettysburg National Military Park to "hike".  We actually ended up walking along a seldom used road near historic Sach's Covered Bridge that crosses another historic bridge to another seldom used road that winds through some farmland.  We had our hiking poles put neither of us took our packs.  It was more about being outside and moving those muscles.
Our next big adventure is the end of next month, so getting prepared is a necessity.  We'll only be doing an overnight, so I'm hoping that means less weight and no issues for me.  I'm planning to really get my workouts started at home on the treadmill, and I'd like to hike each weekend with my pack to prepare.
In my spare time, I've been fostering rescue dogs for a local dog rescue.  I've successfully fostered 2 and had both adopted.  I get my third one in the near future. I'm secretly hoping I find one that makes an excellent hiking companion.  I have a good vibe about the one I'll be getting, so I plan to take him out for some test hikes. 
In the meantime, I'm working out the packing list for my trip and trying to decide what to take and what to leave.  I'm also wondering what the heck to purchase with this year's REI dividend.  Between the dividend and the snow, it's almost like Christmas!

Friday, March 3, 2017


I'm not sure what it is- the super mild February weather, the hundreds starting their thru hikes or just my frustration from feeling like I'm stuck in a rut- but I'm dying for an adventure. 
My cousin and I are known for our road trips not so much because of where we go, but more for what happens along the way.  Though, when I think about it, it's also because of where we go.  Several years ago we packed up our camping gear and flew across the country to stay at the UFO Ranch in Trout Lake, WA.  And even though we met a Santa Claus look-a-like wearing overalls, an alien T-shirt and a straw hat and holding conversations with an alien head he kept in a dog bed, it probably wasn't the craziest trip we've been on.  Really.
On a trip to the Mothman Festival in Point Pleasant, WV, we drove through 4 tornadoes, torrential rain that had us searching for a motel (we never found one), fog so think we couldn't see more than a few feet in front of the car, Biblical flooding of the Ohio river and mudslides.  Oh, and we spotted vultures sitting in a dead tree above a rusting hearse while "Dueling Banjos" played on the radio.  And we got shot at while checking out an abandoned asylum. 
Then there was the time we spent the night at the closed West Virginia State Penitentiary in Moundsville.  It was so creepy inside that we took our cat naps outside on the concrete wall in the exercise yard in shifts.  This after being taken on a private tour by some caretaker in a section that was off limits, smelled of burning flesh (from Old Smokey the electric chair's chamber) and ended up being locked in a cell in said off limits area with the aforementioned caretaker we didn't know.  Scarier was the room at the hotel we stayed in that sported a giant bloodstain on the mattress (they kindly flipped the mattress over so I wasn't laying on the stain, but it was still visible), strange leering men in the parking lot and a tub I didn't want to think about using.
So, I'm ready for adventure.  Ready to hit the trail or hit the road.  Or hit the road to head to a section of the trail that is more than an hour away.  I'm ready to go check out some of the spooky places I've researched for the Haunted Appalachian Trail book I'm still writing.  I just need to go.
I guess it's happening to me the way it happened to John Muir: "The mountains are calling, and I must go."

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Prepping and Planning

January 29th we all got together (my mom, husband, cousin, son and myself) at Catoctin Mountain Park to some hiking to prepare for the spring.  It was quite the blustery day and the temps were forecasted to be in the low 40's, but the windchill factor had it feeling much colder.  We had planned on hiking a large loop we had done before heading to Cunningham Falls then looping to a couple of the vistas then back to the visitor's center.  Unfortunately, the high winds closed the falls trail due to some potentially dangerous dead trees.  So we changed our route and headed up to the Thurmont Vista.  And it is up.
My son was trying out his new hydration bladder and had some weight in his pack.  Overall, I think he'll do just fine when we head out for our overnight at the end of April.  He seems to manage the pack and weight without problem.  He did complain about his knee hurting, but after some ibuprofen and keeping him talking about video games, he forgot about his knee.
We made it to the Thurmont Vista which boasts a gorgeous view of the town of Thurmont.  There we met up with a couple of hikers out for the day.  One was a guy who was what one might call a gear junkie.  He talked on and on about his gear he had, the gear he'd read about, the gear he had at home but didn't bring, the gear he just HAD to buy.... you get the idea.  The other hiker was an older man who seemed content to just sit and enjoy the view.  Like many older hikers I've met (all 2 counting this guy) he had an adventurous soul.  He was talking about his trip to Egypt with his wife.  This, of course, renewed my interest and my cousin's interest in traveling to Egypt (she even checked out prices when she got home).  I would have loved to have stayed and chatted with this man.  I too crave adventure though life and responsibilities prevents me from having too many, so I live vicariously through others.  I have found that older adventurers have the greatest stories.  I encountered the other older hiker at my local McDonald's one morning before heading out for a hike.  Looking at him, I would never have guessed he was an avid hiker having hiked the whole AT.  He was headed out later that week to hike sections of Tennessee and Virginia.  Anyway, I digress.
After admiring the views of the vista and chatting with the hikers, we headed on down the trail to Wolf and Chimney Rock.  The temps got colder as the wind was hitting that side of the mountain.  It took me some time to dig out my hat.  I'm not one for wearing winter hats, but having one with you (that also covers your ears) is important when you're hiking in seasons where the temps can drop.  Once I had that hat on, I was feeling quite comfortable.
We eventually got back to the Visitor's Center after hiking 5.27 miles then we all headed off to dinner.  It's amazing to me how fast food becomes an important obsession when you're hiking.  About an hour into our trip, my cousin and I were dreaming about mashed potatoes.  Luckily the restaurant we went to had a buffet complete with steaming mashed potatoes, and yes, I ate about 6 pounds worth.  After dinner, we all planned out some weekend backpacking trips for the coming year.  It's great that we all seem to have the same "Top 10" list of places we want to hike.  This year we'll be finishing Maryland (end of April) and doing section in PA with my son's Boy Scout Troop, going to hunt the elusive WooWoo/ Bighoot in the Delaware Water Gap and heading to Shenandoah National Park towards Fall.
In the meantime, I'm working on building muscles in my injured butt/hip and gaining stamina/losing weight.  I'm also still working on that book of paranormal stories from along the AT.  All in all, it's going to be a busy spring/summer/fall!