So far the theme of the year is Plan B. I was co-leading a trip for DC UL Backpacking last weekend. We were slated to head up to Old Logger’s Path. Typically, the road to OLP isn’t the easiest to navigate, but we learned that it was covered in snow. In fact, it seemed, all of Pennsylvania was covered in about two feet of snow. The ranger strongly dissuaded us from attempting to bring our cars (mine being a 14 year old Honda) to OLP. With the short notice, we opted not to send people on a last minute scramble to dig up snowshoes and started to look for the least snow-covered path between D.C. and Lancaster. The 41-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail in Maryland seemed like the best bet. A staff person in one of the state parks excitedly told me that there were only three inches of snow – and they were melting fast. Plan B was in full effect.
The first few miles of the AT in Maryland are nice and gentle, running along the C&O Canal. It then leads you up to Weverton Cliffs, giving great views of Harper’s Ferry below. We continued on our way, the sun starting to shine a little more and the snow under our feet starting to slowly turn to slush. Now walking through nice, fluffy snow can be fun, but we had our choice of either ankle-deep slush to wade through or pockets of crunchy, icy snow to navigate. (Note – I have no idea where the woman said there were only three inches of fast melting snow. I can only assume she laughed manically after hanging up the phone with me.) And we had 15 miles of this until we hit our first night’s camp at Rocky Run.
Next morning, we were up and on the trail around 8:15, ready for our next day of adventure and about sixteen more miles of slushy snow. It was a beautiful day but with warm temperatures and great views, but the slush / ice was wearing me down. By the time I got to the shelter, I was tired and cranky. I wandered around to find a flat spot to set up my shelter – I was trying out a friend’s Notch this weekend – and found a semi-flat spot.
A huge bonfire was blazing at the shelter below as another group had hiked in from PenMar but left rations in their cars nearby. Heading down, I was quite ready to dig into my chili, have a swig of whiskey, and relax for a bit. I found a feast as our shelter-mates passed along stuffed grape leaves and olives, cured meat, and cheese. One person softly played “Over the Hills and Far Away,” and another offered us his extra venison sausages. With a bellyful of chili and sausage, I headed up to the Notch in a happier mood.
Day three, we were on the trail by 7:10. Once we hit 77, our group diverted as some elected to stay on the slushy trail, while others (including myself) I opted to road walk the last nine or so miles back to the car. As road walks go, it was a lovely one as we passed by farms, saw an incredibly large rooster, and chatted away the miles.
You can check out our full trip report here.