K9 Trailblazers Dog Hiking Club
April 24, 2004 at Catoctin Mountain
HikeTrip Report

(click on thumbnail images for full size picture)

5 miles

Our April 24th K9TB hike at Catoctin Mountain Park represented yet another milestone for our group.  Back in March we celebrated our 5th anniversary and this month we celebrated our first hike entirely planned and led by our 2 newest hike leaders!  Alice and Jenifer both completed PATC hike leadership training, and co-led 3 hikes in order to earn the coveted K9TB Hike Leader hat.  And so it was that after planning and re-planning, previewing the hike, and dealing with potential trail closures due to Presidential visits to Camp David , Alice and Jenifer met their group of 6 eager human hikers (and 6 even more eager dog hikers) at the trailhead.

The morning started out a bit cool with a touch of fog in the valleys as Alice gave the orientation speech to the hikers.  We welcomed back Marcos and Peanut, who had joined us for the first time at our March hike.  It was also good to see Nancy and Callie back on the trail with us again.  They even brought along friends Jill and Brooks, who were joining us for the first time.  Returning friends also included Karen and Loki, Shirley and Princess, and Jeff and Katy.

With introductions out of the way and everyone raring to go, we headed up the trail with Alice and Diva in lead, and Jenifer and Gigi sweeping.  The trail started out rocky and steep at times.  There were a few blown down trees still left across the path from the past fall and winter’s storms, but they were easily navigated by two and four footed hikers alike.

Our initial climb was rewarded as we came into view of Chimney Rock, the first of our scenic overlooks.  The sky was blue, and the sun bright.  We all soaked in the sun and scenery with dogs striking scenic poses on the rock outcroppings.

Our next stop, just down the trail, was Wolf Rock.  Several hikers who had had enough rock scrambling at Chimney Rock, stayed back on the trail, while Shirley and Princess, Karen and Loki, and Jeff and Katy climbed up to see if they could get a look at the rock formation that gave “Wolf Rock” its name.  The rock looks a bit like the profile of a seated wolf (or maybe a dog!). Unfortunately, the crags and crevices between us and our goal were a bit too much to navigate with our dogs, so we had to head back, just a bit disappointed.

From there the trail leveled out a bit, and became a bit less rocky.  The trails were lined with mountain laurel, still a month or so away from blooming, and we could see the dogwood just starting to flower. We stopped for lunch at Thurmont Vista.  The day had warmed up, and it was a bit hazy, but we could make out the road and the town of Thurmont below.  The dogs were somewhat more interested in the food than the view, but we all got up after the break refreshed and ready for the last leg of our hike.

We had learned earlier in the week that our original plan for an 8 mile hike had to be trimmed down to 5 miles.  When the President is visiting nearby Camp David , portions of the Catoctin trail system are closed for security reasons.  Obviously the administration has yet to recognize the untapped political power of the “Dog Hiker” voting block.  Otherwise I’m sure the President would have rescheduled his visit for another weekend.

But with such a nice day, a beautiful trail, and good company, no one complained about a shortened hike as we headed back down past the Charcoal Trail toward the visitors center.  It did give us a chance to see some of the displays on charcoal production that the Park Service has placed along the trail.  Logging and charcoal production were significant industries in the Catoctin Mountains .  The fuel was needed for iron production at the nearby Catoctin Furnace and resulted in much of the land being cleared of trees. 

Fortunately for we modern visitors, the forest has recovered from that extensive logging.  Thanks to the work of the Civil Conservation Corps and the National Park Service, Catoctin is now an oasis away from the nearby hustle of urban life.  It’s no wonder the Catoctin Mountains have been such a haven for our nation’s Chief Executives since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration!  And as we reached the parking lot and headed back to our cars, we were all glad to have such a natural resource so close to home and welcomed the opportunity to come back again and see more of the park.  Many thanks to Alice and Jenifer for putting together what we hope will be the first in a long line of excellent hikes!

 

Alice gives the orientation Up the hill Navigating a downed tree Karen and Loki take a break Marcos and Peanut cool down after the climb
Spring in the Catoctins Looking for Direction in Life? Arriving at Chimney Rock The view up the chimney Exploring Chimney Rock
Callie and Nancy strike a pose The view from Chimney Rock Diva pretends to be short legged mountain goat Shirley and Princess enjoy the view Climbing around Wolf Rock
Thurmont Vista The President shortens our hike Logging sled Loki and Diva race back to the trailhead Jill is left holding the dogs