Catoctin Trail, Cat Rock Frederick, Maryland

I wouldn't even bother to write about today except that it was so darned hilarious.

Today's adventure almost never happened. It started off with ActiveCham having a conversation with LazyCham this morning.

ActiveCham: For God's sakes, we've been lazying around in this house for 2 days. Let's get out of the bed and do something!
LazyCham: But this bed is so nice and toasty warm. Let's stay home.
ActiveCham: Our muscles are atrophying, get up.
LazyCham: Bed, bed, bed.
ActiveCham: Okay, we'll compromise, we'll take a quick daytrip to a trail that is really close to home and we will be back early.
LazyCham: Okay, but not too far.

I got up and was in the car by 9AM. I was so proud of myself because I remembered to pack the headlamp and emergency blanket. All I needed was some petrol and coffee and I was going to be off....until I got to the gas station. While pumping my gas I did notice that one of my rear tires looked very close to exploding, it was misshapen and bald. Okay, hike cancelled, off to the tire store.

I drove to Sam's Club and spoke to the tire guy. I am pretty sure I told him that I needed some new tars (have I lived here that long?). Tire guy was very nice and within 20 minutes I was sporting a new set of Goodrich's at a very competitive price. Thanks tire guy for the speedy service!

So now it is 9:40AM. On the way to the trail I had a little problem with my bladder. No not that bladder, the one that goes in my pack. So this involves another stop and I finally end up in the Catoctin Manor area at 11AM. I thought I was completely prepared for a day of hiking although a little late until I hit the trail.

I noticed a group of orange circus clowns with guns at the trailhead. I forgot, today is the opening day of firearms season for bambi here in Merryland and I had seriously forgotten to wear orange. I was dressed very fashionably head to toe in black, and, I might say so myself, I did look rather stylish but not noticeable in, let's say, fuschia or magenta which probably would have been a better color choice for the day. You never know which one of these hunting fruitloops are on the sauce and which one of them is working with their 3 year old on their first kill which is why you want to be as visible as possible.

I figured I would take my chances and head out anyway, there was a light dusting of the first snow on the ground from the night before. I saw probably 30 hunters but only one deer carcass. One hunter was complaining about his knees another whined that he was tired, and none of these unhappy hunters were more than a half mile from the trailhead. Every hunter I know in my personal and professional life is either an alcoholic or spends 11 month of the year in their basement making bullets. And yet the first day of deer season they start traipsing in the woods expecting to walk for miles and be able to drag a 50 pound carcass back to their cars.

One hunter even had the nerve to tell me I shouldn't be in the woods. I told him that shooting me would be a very very bad idea. What I should have said was, "Honey, I am out in these woods all year every year, if anything, you are on my turf. Maryland is still a blue state and I am sure my family would make that negligent homicide charge stick to you like a cheap suit."

Since it was cold and brisk I was able to make incredible time and did the 6 miles to Cat Rock in 1.5 hours, the trail has about a 1000 foot rise. I decided to go as fast as I could on the way back until I got to Bob's Hill overlook where I met another hiker named Jeb who was from Finksburg. I decided to walk with Jeb back to the car since if somebody fired at us I'd have a 50/50 chance of survival. Jeb, by the way, wants to make sure that I mention in the blog that he hiked the Grand Canyon 7 times.

The nice thing about being done early is that one has time to get a civilized meal in Frederick. I want to mention something about the wonderful little town of Frederick, Maryland. I've been hiking in this region for 23 year. When I first visited Frederick it seemed like every storefront was either empty or had thrift shop with the exception of Bushwallers and The Trail House. Over the last 23 years, the population of Frederick changed from a sleepy farm community to a suburb of a suburb of Montgomery County. Mind you, the place has the ugliest townhomes on the planet and a sea of hideous big box retailers on its outskirts, but there is no, if, ands, or buts, Frederick's downtown area is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Every storefront is occupied with wonderful restaurants, jewelry and crafts stores. And, best of all, there is not one chain restaurant in its 8 or 9 blocks. I don't know how the little city pulled that off but it was marvelously successful. If you ever want a great experience, visit Frederick.

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