Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Monthly Hike - March Edition

March Hike - Where is Spring?

The month of March was winding down.  Spring had arrived on the calendar, but there was still snow up in them thar hills.  I decided to hike some more of Maryland.  This time I would head north from the Rt 70 parking lot.

My original plan had me hiking up to where I had turned around back at the beginning of January in 6 degree weather.  This would once again complete the whole MD trail for me, but the tentacles from the house, tangled around me and kept me from hitting the trail on the first day until a time when I am usually finishing up the day.

Day 1 - Delayed (Mar 28)

It was Earthday Astron the 7th.  Originally I was hoping to head out early in the morning and hike about 13 miles, but the Other World issues delayed me until after 1430.  Our heat pump had reached the end of its life and most of the day was spent waiting for the installers to put in a new system.

I finally got on the road at 1445 and arrived at the parking lot at a rainy 1600. 

The planned 13.8 miles was scrapped and I altered the day to an easy 4 miles to Pogo Campsite.  

I started up the mountain at a quick pace in light rain. First to warm up and second to escape the loud highway noise of the Interstate.

I quickly passed the blue blaze to Pine Knob shelter. The forest had some snow, but the trail was mostly wet and muddy. 

The trail

From time to time, the trail would have packed icy snow that I had to carefully navigate, but I mostly made good time. In an hour I was passing Annapolis Rocks and I walked into the caretakers spot to check it out. I still had a couple hours of daylight, so I continued on.

After Black Rock with its total white "view" I started down hill to the camp. The trail had more snow here, but the rain had let up.

The view

I came into the camp and started looking for some suitable trees.  My first choice didn't work, but I found some good trees further up the hill.

I set up, made dinner as the rain started again lay shivering in my hammock a little. I bundled up for the night and chased that first night's slumber. 

Home for the night

Log Entry:
1.  Date: Earthday, Astron 7
2.  Day 1
3.  Afternoon temp: 45
4.  Weather: Rain
5.  Time start: 1600
6.  Time stop and miles: 1802/4
7.  Endpoint: Pogo Camp
Fauna: squirrel, chipmunk 
VOD: none
Sound: rain on tarp
High: dinner
Low: wet feet
Hope: a warmer day

Day 2 - Just Doing Some Miles (Mar 29)

I slept cold most of the night.  On my last hike, I had rigged up a space blanket inside my underquilt and I had thought that it worked quite well.  This time, I could feel the cold running along my back.  It was probably a number of factors that caused this.  First, I had slept inside an empty shelter last time, which blocked the wind.  Also, my alignment might have been in a direction that allowed more wind than usual to enter my hammock area at my head.  

It wasn't until after I had moved the space blanket into the hammock that I felt warm enough to get a few hours of semi-decent sleep.  It wasn't even that cold out, but the cold was attacking me on this night.

I rolled out around 0630 and started to pack up.  I headed over to the privy for my morning evolution and took a photo of the fake outlet that is mounted outside the privy. I would post this picture on April 1st, seeing if anyone would be fooled.

Don't believe everything you see

A foggy morning

As I came back to the hammock, I saw two white tails flagging as they moved off.  The fog was so thick, that was all I could see.  More of the snow had melted overnight and it wasn't real cold.  Somewhere in the 40s still, but it was one of those dank colds, that seep into your bones.  I didn't want to take off my puffy until everything else was ready to go.  Luckily everything except my shoes had dried overnight using my body heat.  

I headed out, continuing north.  The vague plan was to hike to Raven Run Shelter, then turn around and hike back some, camping at Ens Colwall shelter, but by the time I reached Colwall shelter, I knew, the plan was changing once again.

My main reason for getting out was to once again take on the role of Outsider (which in my invisible rule book, means staying outdoors for 24 hours plus) and also to get several miles on my feet.  I was craving the pain of a long day's hike under load.

Today's main event was a 4.8 mile stretch along the ridge that I remembered from 2011 was really rocky. As I walked it this time, I thought it wasn't so bad.  That's what several years of hiking in PA will do to change your perception.  

The snow in the gap at the shelter was still pretty high and that dank coldness had intensified and soaked into my bones.  There was about three inches of wet slush on the trail just before the shelter and that help decide that I would turn around here and head back to either Annapolis Rocks or maybe even back to the truck.  

Snowy Ens Cowall Shelter

I ate lunch and even made a cup of coffee to warm myself, but once again I needed to start with my puffy on.  I sure had lost any acclimation to the cold I have achieved in the past.  

As I headed back, the day became nicer and warmer.  I saw several day hikers out and I enjoyed retracing my steps from that morning and the day before.  When I got to Annapolis Rocks, I took a nice long break, but I was sure that I would continue on.  The lure of a hot shower, warm bed and beautiful wife was too strong to stay out another night.  I had achieved my goals and was enjoying the pain of a good day on the trail.  I had gotten my fix.

A little better view today at Black Rock

I finished the last couple of miles and headed to McDonalds, my new post-hike craving of late.  Now I just need to decide where I can hike in April before finally getting back to Pamola's Quest in May.

Log Entry:
1.  Date: Starsday, Astron 8
2.  Day 2
3.  Afternoon temp: 40
4.  Weather: Fog, drippy, calm
5.  Time start: 0800
6.  Time stop and miles: 1600/14
7.  Endpoint: Rt. 70 Trailhead
VOD: Black Rock
Sound: highway
High: my many breaks of the day
Low: the slush at Ens Cowall shelter

Hope: I get back out here soon

Peace, EarthTone

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