Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Hiking in Catoctin Mountain Park

Hiking and biking outside in this weather is just miserable!   You see, I am sooooo ready for the heat of this summer to be over!   The older I get the less extreme I want the temperature to be!   I know, I complain in the summer because it’s too hot.  I complain in the winter because it’s too cold….or more correctly, I complain in the winter because of the infernal darkness!  I’m just not happy.  But this past weekend we didn’t let the heat of summer deter us from getting outside.  We decided to go hiking In the Catoctin Mountain Park. And I’m so glad that I did because I realized something very important! 

Long Break From Hiking

The weather was supposed to be a bit cooler (high 80’s as opposed to the 90’s) and we decided to go hiking!   After all, we will be going on vacation soon and whilst on vacation we will be hiking…a lot! We knew we had to get our hiking legs underneath us.   We wanted to get back out and be as ready for our vacation as possible and that means hiking as much as possible as we get closer to our trip.  This is especially important as we have been woefully lacking in hikes!

We have walked on the canal a lot…some long walks.  We have walked at the zoo.  We haven’t been just sitting on the couch. But a real hike…mountains and rocky terrain and all that turns a walk into a hike has not happened.   That fact was brought home to us when we pulled our our dirt encrusted hiking boots.  ‘Wow we were in some mud last time we went hiking’ I declared.  But neither of us could easily remember the occasion in which we ended up mud encrusted.   Shame on us!

Catoctin Mountain Park

We decided to head to Catoctin Mountain Park for our first hike after an indeterminate amount of time.  The Catoctin Mountain Park is part of the properties managed by the NPS and is chock full of beauty.  It is in the mountains so I knew to expect the hills and grades to ascend and descend but I also knew that the views would be a great reward.

We started out our hike at the Thurmond  Vista Parking lot. We chuckled as we thought about our run in with the secret service/park police during a recent visit when we were so enthralled with the wildlife that we totally forgot about our proximity to Camp David.  But this visit we clearly remembered our proximity and followed all ‘edicts’. 

The first trial we decided to traverse was the Charcoal Trail.  This is a half mile loop trail that is pretty scenery but shows how charcoal was generated.   The lessons are learned by historical markers and exhibits along the trail.   It was neat but didn’t take us long.  Soon we were back at the parking lot and ready to head to a longer trail.

We decided to hike to the Thurmond Vista.  The National Park Service had done a great job at Catoctin National Park in making it possible to hike most of the parks trails in a series of loops.  The Thurmond vista loop would be about 3 miles.  That sounded perfect for a first hike (in a long time).  Off we went.

It was about this time that it started to rain.  But no worries.  It was hot and a little rain could only be refreshing, right? 

It’s only a bit further, let’s hike further

After reaching the Thurmond Vista we came to the turn off for us to make the loop back to the parking lot.  The signage was very clear.  But it was also very clear that Wolf Rock was only 0.3 miles further.  My legs were feeling strong…we decided to check out Wolf Rock as a spur trail for our loop. 

We made it there no problem….and the signs from there indicated that Chimney rock was only 0.5 miles further!  Why yes!  Let’s!

It was so stinking hot!  The humidity was super high!  But we were both having so much fun!

It was while we were hiking back to the car that I realized….my legs were absolutely fine and in fact it had been ME that suggested adding the extra almost two miles do hike to Wolf Rock and Chimney Rock.  That is a huge turn around because in the last year or two I have dragged my feet about getting out and when I am out hiking all I can usually think about is getting the torture over with…and never would I willingly add more torture by suggesting adding more hiking onto our planned trip.  (The exception is if I am busy exploring…and buried in the excitement of that…such as our hikes on  vacation last year.)

I did hike using my trekking poles . (Amazon Link)  I know that they saved me a few times as my foot got caught on a rock causing me to stumble!  (Why do I stumble so much?). They also kept my fingers from swelling up like sausages so I was happy.   It’s all about doing what it takes to make my hiking experience favorable and fun!

We had a blast hiking in the Catoctin Mountain Park!  Sure it was hot and humid.  It even rained on us a few times.  But we were so happy to be back in the woods.  I was encouraged by the way my body handled the hike. My workouts through the past few months and my trekking poles made this hike painless and enjoyable!   We can’t wait to get out  and hike again!!!


Lynn said...

I have to confess, I loved the hot weather. It just feels so good to be warm because I feel cold so often. That being said, it was in the 60s for my hike yesterday and it was pretty perfect.

Mary said...

Yay, you're hiking again! It sounds great!

MaryFran said...

Now I’m jealous of your 60° hike! Lol. Even though I complain about the heat…there is something good about feeling covered in sweat and alive! Might stink afterward but it does feel good for a bit!!