Maryland Outdoor Club
Sun, Feb 26 2006 - Mod-Diff. Caledonia Hike & Elephant 'Safari' (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): John Fogle
Participants:John Fogle, John Putman, Tom Reichelderfer, Sarah Dannenfelser, Jeffrey Staggs, Jackie Putman, Keith Ferguson, Chuck Kaslavage, Lucas Fisher, Paul Shaklan, H. Tran, Andrew Singleton, Meredith Gibb, Eva Rosvold, Laura Paszkiewicz, Mark Benson

Write Up:
Sometimes I hate when the weather forecasters hit it right on the nose. Sunday morning conditions were quite cold and windy as we started out, just as had been predicted. Fortunately, this didn’t stop a number of MOCers from coming out to enjoy a good winter hike.

Two-thirds of the group met at our Frederick carpool and then drove north to meet up with the remainder at Caledonia State Park, about 14 miles west of Gettysburg, PA. One member thoughtfully called us early in the morning to report he was sick and wouldn’t be joining us. Unfortunately there were also two no-shows who never contacted us at any point. Still, 15 people showed up …all on time …and given the weather it was actually a pretty good sized group.

The temperature registered in the mid-20s as we started out hiking along the picturesque Conococheague Creek, which runs through Caledonia State Park on its way down toward Maryland. This stretch served up our first taste of the area’s abundant hemlock, pine and rhododendron, a welcome sight any time but particularly so during the winter months. We soon turned north away from the creek and began a fairly steep climb up Ore Bank Hill. The evergreen specimens of the stream environment yielded to bare-limbed deciduous varieties as we left the state park and entered Michaux state forest land. Our heart rates changed as well and I was quickly reminded of my somewhat less than optimal physical condition as I wheezed my way upward. But soon the trail leveled out and met the AT, which we followed northward for a short distance to a semi-open area that showed evidence of past logging activity. A separate route detached itself from the AT and descended to Hosack Run, which lies in a boulder-strewn ravine with a good deal more hemlock and rhododendron. We crossed the stream and shortly thereafter began climbing along the switchbacks of Hosack Run Trail. After leveling out it joined the AT once more, this time southbound. Following this we soon reached Quarry Gap shelter, where we took our lunch break.

Quarry Gap shelter is very well maintained, complete with park bench, picnic table, healthy-flowing spring, and even simulated lantern fixtures. At 1:00 PM the temperature had still failed to climb past the freezing point and the intermittent but quite vigorous wind gusts prevented us from lingering longer than we might have. Several hikers were quite anxious to get going once more so that the exercise would warm us up. As luck would have it, shortly after resuming our trek we ran headlong into a group of trail maintenance volunteers led by Jim Stoudt, the gentleman who has maintained the Quarry Gap shelter for the past 30 years. I was pleased to meet him in person and commend him for the great job he and his PATC group do in that area. Given Sunday’s weather conditions, their volunteer spirit is all the more impressive! Continuing on, we passed through yet more large stands of rhododendron. In a couple of places the plants actually formed a “tunnel” over the trail. Eventually the AT brought us back to Caledonia and our starting point.

Ten of us next decided to drop by Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum located a short distance away on US Route 30. Though very small, “Mr. Ed’s” has one of the largest collections of elephants (not the live kind) in the world. The museum is free and is packed with all manner of impressive elephant-related goodies, from miniature figurines to larger outdoor displays. One such display is “Miss Ellie”, an electromechanical pachyderm who is activated by an unobtrusive electric eye near ground level. Laura unwittingly activated this and was quite startled when “Miss Ellie” went into her routine (a combination of canned speech and eye/ear movements) just inches away. This, of course, gave the rest of us a good laugh. Several MOCers succumbed to the temp

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