Saturday, February 20, 2016
I've been dreaming of hiking lately. Probably because I've been reading a book about thru-hiking before bed and having some great conversations about hiking with my book club friends. But I think it also has to do with the general dissatisfaction of being cooped up inside all winter and suffering serious wanderlust. Whatever the reason, I spend my unconscious hours each night walking down an endless path.
Last weekend it was 7 degrees here, so when I saw that today's forecast was in the 60s, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to get the whole family out of the house and onto the trail. For once we even planned ahead the night before (by marinating some food for tonight's dinner) and got up early (7:30 on a Saturday!) and on the road. Where we promptly got stuck in traffic. This is the reality of trying to go anywhere within 2 hours of DC. So as we were sitting in traffic, we talked about where we should move. (Out west?)
We finally made it to Gathland State Park, but not before stopping at a tiny pastry shop in the town of Jefferson, Maryland, because sitting in traffic builds up an appetite! (Or because I'm always hungry?) You know you're not in DC anymore, when you can buy a muffin for 90 cents! They also had tasty Ranger Cookies for 60 cents each, made with rice krispies, coconut, and pecans - must try making these at home.
Once in the park, we headed out for a hike on the Appalachian Trail. I wasn't aware that we'd be hiking in snow, and it definitely wasn't 60 degrees in the mountains (more like high 40s), but once we got moving it ended up being the perfect temperature for a hike. However, as soon as we started up the trail, I became acutely aware of how long it had been since we'd been hiking - my lungs were burning as we huffed and puffed up the steep incline. I also was testing out a new pack that can carry both my camera gear and a water bladder, and was reminded of how much I hate carrying stuff when I hike. At one point, I got tangled in a web of camera straps, backpack straps, and dog leashes. Argh!
But then the trail flattened out, my lungs stopped burning, I got my rhythm, and everything felt great. We were out in nature, spending time as a family, and moving our bodies - just what all four of us needed...until we noticed that Gravy's foot was leaving a trail of blood in the snow. Well, shit. He didn't seem to be bothered, but I certainly wasn't going to make him hike on a bloody foot, so we turned around...
...and went to a winery instead. We only made it 3 miles on the trail (I guess it was more of a walk than a hike?), but it was just what the pups needed. They lounged at our feet while Larry and I enjoyed a glass of red while looking at a frozen pond, complete with tiny island.
And I have to admit that my legs were sore (pathetic) and I was ready for a nap (that might have been the wine) by the time we got home. But spring is just around the corner, my wanderlust will soon be soothed by a trip to California, and I'm inspired to get back into hiking this year. First stop: Joshua Tree.