It's getting hot out there folks.
The temperature in the Free State has climbed and the humidity is abundant, which means it is time for less hiking and more doing anything else but hiking. When one hikes, you sweat which attract these annoying little bugs that dance merrily around your head.
So I decided to wander over to the Potomac with my float tube. I didn't get going until Saturday morning. Once on the road I realized I forgot my camp stove. So I stopped off in Hagerstown at the Coleman store to buy a backpacking stove which I needed anyway. I got a great lightweight number for $20 that works amazingly well, thanks Coleman!
I started my tube run at Little Orleans/Fifteen Mile Creek. Since we have been lacking in rainfall the river was really slow. I only planned to go 4.2 miles so the slow flow wasn't much of a problem. I took a number of pics, saw a bunch of fisherman and did some swimming. I had to make a guesstimate of where to perform a take-out since there was nothing on the river to indicate where the northern tip of the Western Maryland Rail Trail at Pearre was. It turns out I was only about a quarter mile off, and I quickly found my bike and backpack which I had locked up at the parking lot. The deflated tube and PFD fit nicely into my backpack and I returned to the put-in along the C&O Canal towpath. An easy day.
I cooked my dinner in Hancock at the Widmeyer Memorial Park and then decided to head to Berkeley Springs in West Virginia. What normally comes to mind when I think of West Virginia is squalor or shambles, but Berkeley Springs is anything but. I don't think it hurts that Berkeley Springs is surrounded on three sides by Maryland, which seems to have a positive influence. There was not one sign for Family this or Family that. I felt welcome.
Berkeley Springs has a number of art galleries, a bunch of small hotels and B&Bs, and a nice selection of restaurants. It is at the foothills of Cacapon Mountain. I noticed a sign near the 7-11 advertising live music at the Red Guitar Coffee Bar on Saturday night. Since it was Saturday I decided to head over to see what was going on. The duo that was playing was Little Maggie. I took one look at these aged hippie ladies and shuddered, I thought for sure this visit was going to be a big mistake. But the ladies proved my initial reaction was wrong. The harmonized and didn't sound too bad, in fact, they sounded pretty good.
Afterward, I parked my car in a large parking lot near 2 tractor trailers and fell asleep. I woke up and cooked my breakfast in Berkeley Springs State Park, in the downtown area. I couldn't help but notice all the warm springs outside and the spa on its premises so I asked a park ranger what went on in there. He recommended the massage and roman bath option so I decided to make a reservation for one after my hike. I might be cheap when it comes to food and lodging but start talking deep tissue massage and the credit cards start to fly.
I wanted to do a quick hike that would not interfere with my scheduled massage. So I headed toward the Maryland side of Sideling hill, back to the Pearre parking are of the WMRT. I looked very hard at the Marland Department of Natural Resources map of Sideling Hill. I want to let everyone know that this map and reality have nothing to do with one another. The trails on the map tend to mysteriously end, and they don't go where the map says they are going to go. I also notice some phantom roads on the map as well. C. Ronald Franks has his head up his ass on this one.
I headed back to Berkeley Springs for my massage. The Berkeley Springs Spa turned out to be in a building that looked sort of like a prewar mental hospital with glazed yellow tile. The building was solid as a rock so no upgrades or rennovations are necessary. But who can fault a state park that has a low-cost spa? Maryland can take a lesson from West Virginia in this regard.
I had purchased the roman bath/30 minute massage/shower package at the competitive price of $45. The roman bath was totally cool, it was like having your own little indoor heated pool. They say the Berkeley Springs waters are healing, but I couldn't tell, I'm in great physical shape so there was nothing to heal. My masseuse, Ruth, did a wonderful job removing the toxins from my body. Then I got to take a shower and wash my hair which was yucky from the sweaty hike and the river.
All in all, a much improved weekend over the last one. I will definitely be heading back to Berkeley Springs in the future!