Fourteen Adventurers hiked 14 miles on a beautiful “spring” day, where the temperatures reached the low 70’s even though it was only February 18. Hiking mostly along the Appalachian Trail in Maryland, we started at the Washington Monument State Park and trekked 7 miles to the spectacular rock outcroppings of Black Rock Cliff, where we had our lunch. Then on our return trek, we stopped to take in the panoramic view offered by Annapolis Rocks. We ended the hike on this President’s Day weekend at the first monument to our first President, George Washington. Erected by the good citizens of Boonsboro in 1827 (supposedly after a copious consumption of spirits), this Washington Monument preceded the completion of that upstart in the District of Columbia by more than six decades. After the hike, six of us decided to follow the example of the good citizens of Boonsboro by descending on Dan’s Restaurant and Tap House in Boonsboro, where after consuming a large quantity of great brews and comfort foods, we made our way home. Maybe next year, we’ll repeat the experience and this time erect our own monument.
The National Park Service seems to do its best to hide the very existence of the pretty waterfall in the heart of Shenandoah National Park that 15 Adventurers enjoyed today. It has no official name (it could be called the Hazel River Waterfall as easily as the name we use, the White Rocks Waterfall), and the trail leading down to it is equally nameless. The PATC guidebook goes along with the Park Service practice, as their guidebook to Shenandoah makes no reference to either the waterfall or the trail. But there's probably a good reason for such unusual reticence. That nameless trail leading from the Hazel River Trail down to the waterfall, while only a quarter-mile long, is remarkably steep and treacherous, and the authorities may not want a lot of people on it. But we gingerly made our way down to the Hazel River and then crept along some inconveniently-sloped rock ledges to the waterfall itself, well hidden behind several bends in the river. The scenery is greatly enhanced by an attractive pool at the base of the waterfall and an adjacent cave. We lunched and lollygagged dynamically (TM) no little time in this attractive glen before huffing and puffing back up the nameless trail to the kinder and gentler trails that returned us to our cars at the Meadow Spring lot.
Five Adventurers were well rewarded for braving the frosty Saturday morning to stomp around Sugarloaf Mountain. Not a cloud was in sight to hinder the sun, and the mountain draped in blazing gold shined gloriously in response, complemented by the crisp air and charming views. Starting off with a steep climb to the peak before weaving a route through the myriad of trails, we completed the 8.5 miles in admirable time. With the cold and the crowd, it is perhaps wise that we elected to forgo the winery visit; a hike as pleasant as such was in itself adequately intoxicating.
16 Adventurers rendezvoused on Veterans Day in Hancock, MD on a day that began rather bleak and blustery but improved big-time before the day was over. After hearing some stories about the town's colorful past (including the one about how Rebel hero Stonewall Jackson got stared down here by a now-forgotten Yankee general), we set out on the C&O Canal towpath. With the leaves mostly down, we were easily able to spot Lovers Leap, a dramatic cliff on the WV side of the Potomac. The highlight of our trek was undoubtedly "The Devil's Eyebrow," a striking anticline (or arch) in the rockface, complete with cave, directly above the Canal prism; a few of our party scaled the short but steep stretch to the mouth of the cave. Then we lunched next door amidst the impressive ruins of the Round Top Cement Plant. By this time the clouds had dissipated, the sun was out, and temperatures had climbed into the comfortable range, prompting a widespread delayering of clothing among our party. (Unfortunately,this exposed my own arm to the Last Tick of Summer, who hitchhiked a ride on me, as I only discovered two days later.) Most of us ended our outing by spending a delightful hour at Buddy Lou's, an upscale (by Hancock standards) restaurant right next to the Canal.
A sunny and comfortably cool November day made our hike in the gorgeous Whiteoak and Cedar Run Canyons all the more enjoyable. There was still plenty of color in the trees so it was no surprise that we were far from alone on these popular trails. Another surprise: as dry as it had been both Robinson River and Cedar Run were flowing briskly. With an elevation gain of about 2450 feet the nine of us (plus one dog) worked pretty hard on our ascent and descent. Prize for the most intrepid hiker goes to Ya-Ya, Lee's dog. Ya-Ya was literally running circles around us even at the end of this 8-mile (or was it 9-mile? sources don't agree) hike.
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