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!

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