Saturday, February 20, 2016

weekend adventures | a short hike on the AT

gathland state park
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.
gathland state park
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!
gathland state park
gathland state park
gathland state park
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.
notaviva vineyards
notaviva vineyards
notaviva vineyards
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.

13 comments:

Karen Travels said...

Ummm, 3 miles is definitely a hike in my book. I think I consider anything walking on a trail a hike, am I wrong to think that? Now, backpacking on the other hand, I think of that as mad mileage and carrying your whole life on your back. I hike, I do not backpack. Well actually now I don't do either, so I love posts like this! Awesome pics. Thanks for sharing.

Funnelcloud Rachel said...

Thanks, Karen! Agree - I am a hiker, not a backpacker. (And I don't really have the desire to be a backpacker! I'm happy leaving my stuff in the car!)

I guess I'm feeling inadequate after reading about Carrot's 29 mile day! Ouch! Plus, we saw some people hiking with camping gear on their backs. Thanks, but I'd rather sleep in my warm bedroom and not in a bed of snow! :)

little green field book said...

I think backpacking and hiking are whatever you want them to be for whatever distance. All that matters is you're enjoying the outdoors!

Whitney Kippes said...

Reading Wild? Or something else I should know about?

The whole time I read Wild, I kept dreaming about through hiking - and waking up when all sorts of scary things started happening to me because I didn't know what I was doing! Even my unconscious mind knows my limits...

Funnelcloud Rachel said...

Whitney - I read Wild a few years ago and loved it. Currently reading Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart. It doesn't have much plot - more like reading a trail log. But I've definitely got hiking on my mind!

little green field book said...

I was just looking over some old photos from when we visited JTNP (seven years ago...) and I came across a photo of a drive in that I forgot. You guys HAVE to go! It's called Smiths Ranch Drive-in located in 29 Palms,a town close to the Oasis Visitor Center.

Also the trails we hiked were Lost Horse Mine (I think, though I don't have any photos strangely enough) & Barker Dam. And of course the Cholla Cactus Garden. Definitely stop at Keys View too, esp if you are planning to hike Lost Horse Mine. We also seemed to have done a lot of off-trail wandering around/sitting on rocks. Hmm...maybe I'll post a few photos on the blog...

Between reading Carrot's book, Karen's top 10 hikes posts, and your upcoming trip to JTNP I am having a serious case of Need To Get Outside...

Are you guys staying in Palm Springs? If you are, and you end up taking the aerial tram to the top of the mountain, there are a ton of hikes behind the tram building/visitor's center. Nobody seems to make it back there so the trails feel awesomely empty. There's also a family (or two) of raccoons living up there that are not afraid of people at all.

Funnelcloud Rachel said...

Thanks, Veronika! My lust for travel/hiking/national parks/exploring is out of control right now! I hope our upcoming trip helps, because right now I want to leave my current life behind and go adventuring full-time!

Yes, we are staying in Palm Springs at a sweet lodge retreat for 3 nights for our anniversary, then spending 3 nights at a funky little house in the desert. I'm not sure if I can convince L to do the aerial tramway since he has a major fear of heights!

Funnelcloud Rachel said...

Veronika - ahhh, I just realized that Smiths-Ranch is a Drive-IN! When I first read your comment, I thought it was a scenic drive. I'm so pumped it's a drive-in movie! Going to a drive-in movie has been on my bucket list FOREVER (Larry never wants to drive all the way out to the one in VA), so going to one in the desert sounds awesome! I hope they're playing something decent in March!

little green field book said...

Yes! Ha! I have a sixth sense for finding drive-ins (and ice cream shops) maybe bc I love them so much!

Smith's is a reeallllyy good one, prob the best drive in I've visited thus far, and the desert location feels so surreal. Besides the location they have good snacks, it's inexpensive, and they have an awesome vintage sign! Even if they play something stupid y'all should still go! At least one of the double feature movies should be good.

The drive in we always went to in the DC area was Benjis Drive In. Its still a good ways out but it had great vintage vibe and building though not as nice as the pix I've seen of the VA one(s). (Can't that be said about anything in MD vs anything in VA. Burn.) We always stopped at a good fish n chips spot...then ice cream...before seeing the movie. (The food really sucked and the concessions lines were long.)

Funnelcloud Rachel said...

I always wanted to go to Benji's...until I read their rules. Here's the thing - I'm a rule follower. I'm totally fine with them not wanting anyone to bring in outside food, etc. But the way they wrote the rules on their website was SO DICK-ish! So I decided not to patronize them! Yes, burn Maryland, burrrnnnn!

Always wanted to go the VA one, though.

little green field book said...

Agree with you on the rules, I thought the exact same thing and was pissed off about them as well because here's the thing, if you are forcing people to buy your food, which I'm not opposed to doing, then you need to provide some healthy options (this coming from someone that ate fish and chips and ice cream before the show), and there are none. On top of that, the concessions line is LONG and SLOW. And charging $10 to bring in food seems excessive.

Also the thing about not taking photos -- why can't you take photos before the movies? The drive-in is such a cool little vintage building it seems like it would be great marketing for them.

I do get why they have rules and I'm sure in their heads the reason they wrote them that way was because they got sick of constantly telling non-rule followers the same stuff over and over but still, I agree there's a better way to do it.

Smith's Drive-In is nothing like Benjis. I should stop talking about it though because I'm going to over-hype it.

Funnelcloud Rachel said...

Yes, I hate the no picture thing, too! I get that businesses can make their own rules, but excluding the free marketing that comes from people Instagramming their business just seems stupid. I understand why they wouldn't want people taking flash photos during the movie, but phone pics beforehand? It just seems stupid and the management comes across as a-holes. No thanks!

little green field book said...

We almost didn't go b/c the douchey way the rules were written but I love drive-ins and that seemed to be the closest one, so we went. The people at the actual drive-in weren't bad. For the most part they seemed to be going through the motions ready for their shift to be over. It's not like cops were roaming the grounds shining flashlights into cars or anything. We also snuck a few photos pre-movie, but we actually saw a lot of people blatantly taking photos in front of their cars, etc. So maybe the rules aren't strictly enforced?