Ridge Rambled! Notes and images from the Appalachian Trail in Maryland

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Well…I survived the Ridge Ramble, hiking the 41 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Maryland in three days (from Friday morning, October 17th to Sunday afternoon, October 19th).

I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous about the first day, which was 18.6 miles, from the Pennsylvania line to where the trail intersects (crosses over) Interstate 70 west of Myersville. And I’m not sure if I’d ever hiked more than about 16 miles in a day.

I got started at sunrise, and, I’m glad to report, made it with an hour to spare before sunset, with a few stops along the way to snack or enjoy a spectacular view.

It didn’t hurt that the weather was ideal the first day — a picture perfect fall day. And the trail was in pretty good shape, despite a few inches of rain a couple of days earlier.

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Some call the Appalachian Trail “the green tunnel,” and it’s easy to see why. Even though the trail often follows the spine of long ridges and hits other high points (much higher in most of the other states), there are relatively few places that offer unobstructed views, especially when the leaves are still around. But where there are overlooks, the view is fantastic.

My legs felt like rubber for the last two miles or so, which gave me a little concern about the next day. But I felt fine the next morning, and after the first day, the 12.5 miles of the second leg seemed a lot less daunting.

trailspicebushsun280wThe day started out cool and sunny, but it wasn’t too long before clouds and chilly air came in with some strong, gusty winds, which blew relentlessly the rest of the day, until just after I reached my destination for the day, Gathland State Park, at Crampton Gap, just west of Burkittsville.

No complaints, though, since it didn’t rain at all, and cool weather is good for hiking!

To go along with a few more moderate ups and downs, day two did have one long uphill climb to the summit of Lamb’s Knoll.

That’s a gorgeous stretch of trail, however, and the forest and the (few) views on the shoulders and summit of Lamb’s Knoll make it worth every step. I look forward to doing more day hiking in that area.

The third day was the shortest and easiest, as the 10.1 mile southern leg of the trail in Maryland is relatively gentle and a lot less rocky, until you get to the big downhill near the end, where the trail drops down to the C&O Canal and the Potomac River, and follows the canal upriver before crossing the bridge to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

The wind and chill air remained from the day before, but it was mostly clear and sunny all day. With just a few miles to go, and about half way down from the ridge, the view of the Potomac River Valley from Weverton Cliff was a great treat.

washingtonmonument280wI have included a few photos from all three days here.

If you’d like to see more and larger images, I’ve posted thirty or so in an album on my personal Facebook page. (Please note that you don’t need to have a Facebook account to see them.)

I’ll add a few more to the album when I get a chance!

All in all, the hike was a great experience, and it confirmed what we all know — we are fortunate to live in a very beautiful area…and we need to work to keep it that way.

Which brings me to the point that the “Ridge Ramble” was set up as part of an effort to raise funds to support the ongoing and expanding work of Envision Frederick County.

Supporters were asked to pledge $1, $2 or $3 (or more) per mile of this ambitious hike along the western edge of beautiful Frederick County.

We are very pleased to share that (assuming everyone fulfills their pledge) the “Ridge Ramble” will have raised a little more than $4,000.00, from 57 individual contributors.

Thank you very much to everyone who did pledge or contribute! Your support matters and is greatly appreciated!

gathlandsun280(This would be a good place to remind anyone who pledged that all contributors will receive a digital, print-quality copy of their choice from the best photographs taken during the hike.)

Even though the Ridge Ramble is over, it never too late to make a contribution to help support Envision Frederick County.

If you are interested in making a contribution, you can mail a check or contribute directly with a credit card or PayPal. To do that, please visit this page on our website.

While we don’t have a date set yet, we’ve thinking about having a spring hike, open to anyone who would like to join us, along all (or part) of the 18 mile portion of the C&O Canal that runs along the southern edge of Frederick County.

We hope some of you will join us for that!

Below are a few more photos (and a map of the Appalachian Trail through Frederick County). Again, go here to see more and larger images from the ramble!

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