Friday, November 13, 2020

A fun weekend and lots of activity

 This past weekend we had a fabulous time out and about in nature!   We hiked on Saturday for about 3-4 hours and we explored an old military base for about 3 hours.  It was a good active weekend and I it was the perfect way to get in exercise!

Browns Farm Trail:  Catoctin Mountain National Park

We started on Saturday by driving up to the Catoctin Mountain National Park.  I had researched a trail that I wanted to visit and an overlook that I had never been to (that I remember).   I was gung ho!   As we wound up the mountain and into the park property, I began to get a sinking pit in the bottom of my stomach.  There were cars EVERYWHERE.  Every little pull off had cars stacked up every which way parked.  It was insanity. As we got closer to the park visitor center and the road that we would be turning off on the amount of cars increased.  It was wall to wall people!  We turned onto the road that would take us to the parking lot at the trail head that I had planned to hike.  There were Park Police out directing traffic!  What the……..   Luckly it was just to control the mad amount of people that were visiting the park.  And even more happily, I had no run in with the police during this visit like I did a previous visit!

We drove carefully and cautiously through the swarms of people.  I was hopeful that the parking lot where we were heading would be a little less crowded.  After all, it was a mile or two from the visitor center.  But no.  It was jam packed!  No thank you!  I like a little peace and quiet when I hike.  I don’t want to be shoulder to shoulder in a crowd!  We drove on.  The next parking lot was busy also!  We were starting to think that we would have to ditch our plans to hike at Catoctin.  But I started to notice that the further out we went, the less people.  You see, there aren’t as many fabulous overlooks further into the park and that deters a lot of people. Not us!   We went to one of the furthest parking lots and there was plenty of parking. We hit up some trails off of that parking lot and we had a fabulous time!     Now don’t get me wrong, there were still people.  But it was a manageable amount!  I would estimate that we only see people once every mile of our hike.  Ahhhhhhhhhhh nature at last!

We even had time to stop and explore an old grave yard after our hike!!!

Fort Ritchie

On Sunday we woke up and we just didn’t know what we were going to do.  What to do?  Where to go?  I don’t know what sparked me to remember Fort Ritchie, but it came to my mind.  I had always known about it and had always had some vague idea that this was a decommissioned army base and that there were a lot of empty buildings.  But I knew nothing about it other than that.  I mentioned it to Jason and he was all for it!

Boy were we surprised.  The county uses it as a park and there is a community center and a lake on the property.  The lake is man made and was created in the late 1800’s by an ice company to cut ice and sell in Baltimore and Washington DC.  In the 1920’s the property was developed into a training camp for the Maryland National Guard.  In the 1940’s, during the war the control of the property transferred to the U.S. Army where it became a military intelligence Training Center.    Fort Ritchie closed it’s doors in 1998 and the future of the property has been questionable.   In the meantime, it was a fabulous place to walk around and explore! 

We were able to see the outside of a lot of old buildings.  Many of the buildings were locked with the windows boarded over.  But some of the buildings had previously been broken into and were open.  We did not break anything but if it was open and available we entered.  It was neat to imagine what went on within the walls of these old buildings!


After Fort Ritchie, we made the 2 mile drive and checked out the overlook at the PenMar park and drove up to High Rock.  We did not stay at High Rock Long, it was insane the amount of people that were there.  We inspected the view from the top of the rock and then retreated.  There was no way to enjoy the serenity of the view when there were so many people jostling and yelling.   This site has the most awesome view, but it is also one that saddens me the most.  The graffiti covering these mammoth rocks is atrocious.  People have no respect for nature and it is sickening what they are doing.   I had read a while back that volunteers had worked to remove much of the graffiti.  You couldn’t tell! I tried to get a good picture but there were so many people......  So instead, enjoy the view from Pen Mar park!

We had a great time over the weekend.  We were out and about.  We were exploring.  We were moving and active. I couldn’t be more than happy with my activity over the weekend and of course the cool things we saw!