Cold Hike at Catoctin

Last week, when the high temperature for the day reached 28 degrees, Karen and I decided to test our winter clothing by going to Catoctin Mountain Park for a five-mile hike.

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We were both wearing our Polartec long underwear as a base layer, on top of which we had our fleece shirt and our water-proof and breathable outer cover. All of our top clothing was from L. L. Bean.

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These clothes helped us both stay sufficiently warm. In fact, Karen took off her jacket for a brief break. I, however, was wearing a set of gloves that did not keep my fingers from becoming numb, so I’ll have to invest in a good pair of mittens. No problems with our toes.

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Why did we feel it necessary to test our winter clothing? Well, Karen and I are returning to the Grand Canyon in January 2015 and will be hiking down to the bottom, staying at Phantom Ranch, and then camping at Indian Gardens on our way back up.

On the same day that we did this hike at Catoctin, we also tested the sleeping bags and liners that we bought at REI; we camped out in our backyard. In the wee hours of the morning, we both felt a bit on the cool side, but overall the test allowed us to have confidence in our gear.

Scott’s Run Nature Preserve

I admit, I’m addicted to hiking. Tod’s schedule has made it difficult to hike together so on Sunday I ventured out by myself to Scott’s Run Nature Preserve in northern Virginia. Scott’s run is a hidden oasis in Fairfax County. Nestled between housing developments and the beltway, it is amazing that it has been preserved for nature lovers.

I began my hike off of Georgetown Pike at the entrance near Scott’s Run. The trail was a blanket of leaves. ¬†In fact, along some sections it was really hard to tell where the trail was! The hike was mostly level and would be a great alternative for those with young kids.

Before long, I came to the Potomac River.  According to my guidebook, the shoals are known as Stubblefield Falls. There are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the view. I walked along the river for a while before meeting up with another part of the trail, higher up.

Although some parts of the trails are well marked, it wasn’t always easy to find my way. I’m pretty sure I took a “road less traveled” and ended up on an unofficial trail. I’m glad I finally met up with a major trail and made my way to the area near Scott’s Run. This time of year is so peaceful in the forests. Without the leaves I could see well into the woods. Even though it was cold out, a brisk pace helped me to stay toasty warm! Overall, it was an easy 3-4 mile loop. Well worth the trip!photo-4