Sun, Dec 10 2006 - Mod-Diff Hike at Catoctin Mtn. Park (View Original Event Details)|
|Participants:||John Fogle, Cynthia Hildenbrand, Chuck Hildenbrand, Paul Shaklan, Maria Maranto Dickey, Cindy Stone, Lisa Perkins, Leo Seung, Michael Eppert, Lori Frazier, Tom Reichelderfer, Sarah Tinney, John Putman, Jackie Maffei, Tracey Wagner, Stacia Hines, Kim Buhrman, Eileen Barry, Kristine Carder|
The morning was bright and sunny, if a bit cold, as the bulk of our group met at the I-70/MD 32 carpool location. Soon enough we were all on the road and reached Catoctin Mountain Park near Thurmont about an hour later. A few more participants joined us as we assembled at the Visitor Center's parking lot, and the hike began shortly after 9:00 AM with 16 MOCers.
The day's journey started with a mile and a half walk along the Falls Nature Trail that led to Cunningham Falls, just across MD 77 on the state park side of the divide. Here we took a short break and admired the Falls, which were quite pretty in their partially frozen state. Kim and Tom decided to climb the rocks part of the way up to get a closer look, while the remainder of us enjoyed the view from nearer the bottom.
After our brief respite, we again crossed MD 77 back over onto federal parkland and began a fairly steep ascent on the trail to Hog Rock. From there the trail became a mixed bag of ascents and descents with a few relatively flat areas thrown into the mix. We passed both Blue Ridge Summit and Thurmont Vista overlooks, and finally arrived at Wolf Rock - a large and locally well-known quartzite formation atop a ridge - around noon. Here I'd intended for the group to take a substantial break. As we climbed up onto the formation itself, we were surprised to see a large group of Korean tourists, at least 40 persons, already there. Their leader was engaged in what seemed to be a rather spirited lecture of sorts to his group, and was periodically interrupted by bursts of applause. Our own gang sat down nearby and broke out snacks or lunches. Mike, having coincidentally just returned from Korea himself, went over to say hello to the tour group. The rest of us were too far away to hear what transpired in the conversation, but one theory that surfaced was that perhaps Mike was attempting to attract international members to the MOC.
No sooner had the Koreans departed than another, much smaller group came up onto the formation. These folks turned out to be from the Howard County Sierra Club. They numbered only about half a dozen; I was fairly confident we could take them if it came down to a rumble. Fortunately there were no incidents and we MOCers departed Wolf Rock to hit the trail again.
Our final trail attraction was Chimney Rock, which offered fine views to the south. Here we also spied soaring birds of prey catching the thermals and circling effortlessly below us. Departing Chimney Rock, we backtracked past Wolf Rock and then took a spur trail that ultimately led back to the Visitor Center. Near the end, I couldn't help notice that two of our group suddenly seemed quite energetic and bounded ahead with determined enthusiasm. I marveled at their energy - what could drive them on so? The mystery wasn't a deep one, as it turned out. Seems they were merely in a hurry to reach the Visitor Center rest rooms. To be fair, most of the group took advantage of the indoor plumbing as well, having hiked roughly eight miles in a little under five hours.
Five of our hikers departed for home, but the remainder of the gang had a real treat in store. Fellow member Cindy Stone had thoughtfully invited the group to her house in nearby Woodsboro for a special post-hike lunch. Eleven of us (counting Cindy herself, of course) accepted and no one was disappointed! There was hot chicken-corn soup, ham sandwiches, chips, pickles, a tasty spinach salad, and plenty of soda. Lori contributed some cookies to top off the meal, and everyone had a thoroughly enjoyable time eating and socializing. Among the conversational highlights were both Chuck and Kristine's choice stories from the firefighting biz, Cynthia's musings on the perils of too-frequent moves, and quite a number of well-deserved compliments to our hostess. Special thanks to Cindy for inviting us into her very pleasant home and for providing such a great lunch!
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