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Day Hikes in Maryland

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Continued a series of day hikes, each about ten miles, this time in Maryland and the southern part of Pennsylvania.

As we have done many times, my "Free Shuttle Service With Benefits" would drop me off at one trail head and pick me up at the end of my hike. This has become far easier since we got cell phones, which we got ONLY because I needed a way to communicate (call for help?) while on The Trail. She would then go off and spend her money at thrift stores, buying items worth $50 for about a dollar. Or doing crafts. Or reading a book. I would just make an estimate of my arrival time and ask her to have her phone turned on after that time. When I reached the end, I would just give her a call.

The first time we tried this, we BOTH wondered about the other person: "Is my spouse REALLY enjoying this situation, or just going along to be nice?" Turns out we BOTH love this -- I because I can do a lot of miles without a lot of pain, she because she can do what she loves to do without worrying that I'm bored.

Other than my post about fire safety, all of these hikes were un-eventful. The daily haze made the overlooks pretty mediocre, and my only "meaningful" animal encounter was a one-second glance at a deer running away. That was the only wild animal I saw that was larger than a squirrel. Dogs, whose owners almost invariably refused to keep on a leash (as required by law), don't count in this tabulation.

The one on-going problem was one I do NOT want to repeat, and it occurred before I left. Apparently, during some yard work I did at my home without wearing socks (hey, I was in a hurry!), dozens of chiggers got on my feet and ate some of my skin. I COULD have easily avoided the problem
http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/av...pests/chiggers
and DEFINITELY should have handled their bites better -- I do NOT recommend rubbing the skin till it becomes raw from this action! Fortunately, cortisone cream and warm baths allowed me to complete my hikes with a minimum of distress. Ironically, it was only AFTER my hike was done, when I got back to our lodging, that the itching would flair up.

Water was found only at designated sites (ie, no dribbling streams), so I was careful to fill up my small bottle with water, that I had filtered, at each such place. Since the day began and ended with a good meal, I didn't need even snacks along the way. In fact, I continued to note that hours of hiking actually reduced my appetite quite a bit -- some evenings I almost had to force myself to eat dinner. Maybe when I do some REAL back-packing, I'll "discover" the sense of gnawing hunger that real back-packers experience.

Permit me to commend the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for the free hot water, electrical outlets, and showers at the backpackers camp site at Dahlgrens near U.S. Highway 40A. It was a VERY refreshing stop on a day when I was getting a bit sweaty.

The MDNR also puts out a booklet extolling a visit to the "South Mountain Recreation Area," and includes excellent maps and info on the state lands upon which the A.T. runs. Page 3 of this guide notes that Annapolis Rock is a "Moderate" hike, 4.4 miles round-trip, that ends with "a view of Greenbriar Lake and Cumberland Valley." I happened to be hiking that area on a Saturday with excellent weather, and should have guessed that people would take their advice and go there. Came across more than one family who were obviously new to the A.T., and I was more than happy to share my "expertise" about mileage and how to hike safely.

Bottom line is that I got in 44 miles in five days, with minimal difficulty. Even though I'll never do a thru-hike, I will (God willing) get all 2000 miles under my belt.
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