First of all, I know why many of you searched out my blog today, so I'll give you what you want. I didn't see many whitetail on Sideling Hill, probably because I wasn't there during feeding time and it is pretty steep in the area. I did see a gaggle of turkey, maybe 20 on my way up. I saw several whitetail, does mainly no bucks, on the WMRT(Western Maryland Rail Trail) near mile markers 13-15 at sundown. Have at it boys. Now you owe me some meat.
Okay, back to me. Accuweather was calling for sunny skies on Saturday and partly cloudy on Sunday so I figured I'd better get out there. I spent Friday night in Berkeley Springs, WV only to wake up to an overcast sky on Saturday morning but that was not going to put a damper on my day. I had big plans for a bike and hike. I ate a hearty breakfast at the Bridge Restaurant in Hancock, MD. I will make a note that I received a free donut and a free calendar magnet while eating, these people will get more of my business.
I started out on my bike in Hancock on the WMRT and headed north to Pearre. This leg was pretty uneventful as not too many people were out except for a very large boyscout troup. I stopped along the way the explore some abandoned houses near Hancock. I am sure the Park Service managed to run these people off for some reason.
Once I got to Pearre I was bound and determined to successfully climb Sideling Hill because I had failed miserably on my previous attempt. I rode my bike up a very large hill and down a very large hill on Pearre Road to get to a starting point on an old fire road where I locked the bike up and started the hiking portion of my day.
The road was not flat or switched backed, but it got me up most of the way quickly. Then the last half mile up with 300 feet of elevation I had to perform on a bushwhack to the top. I didn't take a compass, GPS or map so if I had not found my starting point off the fire road on my return I would have been really screwed. I used a sightline and landmarks to get myself back. I made a video at the summit.
Once I got back to my bike things got ugly. It was about 2:15PM, sundown was a 5PM. I was not interested in climbing that hill back to Pearre on my bike so I was thinking there might be a way to scooch back through the forest to the canal. As I was pondering my dilemma a gentleman in a car stopped. The man asked me whether I needed to look at a map. Normally advice I get from strangers is pretty good. I explained my situation and the man claimed he was an expert on the area and he suggested I head north on Pearre Road toward Little Orleans if I didn't want to go uphill.
Disclaimer: I would have made the same mistake if I was left to my own devices but when other people offer themselves up for me to blame for my problems I readily sieze the opportunity.
The road northward ended up being a hill about 3 times the size of the hill I would have had to climb had I headed south. The hill was brutal and I am pretty sure I ruined my brakes on the way down. There was no easy way back to the canal. I cursed that "expert" the entire time. The man had Pennsylvania tags, I should have known he didn't know squat about terrain in Maryland. This added an extra 7 miles to my journey and an hour that I didn't have to spare. I was pretty happy when I finally got back to the north trailhead of the WMRT. Needless to say I rode as fast as I could back to Hancock to get there precisely at 5PM.
It was getting really cold too. I almost took these people up on their offer.
After cooking up a delicious dinner in the minivan I headed back to Berkeley Springs. The night's entertainment over at the Red Guitar Coffee Bar was a pseudo band called "The Real McCoys". This band consisted of the town doctor, the proprietor of the Red Guitar and a few other stragglers who didn't quite know each other very well but well enough to cobble together some pretty good rockabilly music. The place was packed to capacity and lots of fun until some unwitting soul tried to move a chair. Everyone knows that the chairs do not, will not, cannot move from their predesignated spaces. The proprietor proved that you can play pretty mean riff on a guitar while yelling at someone about rearranging the chairs.
Sunday I woke up and decided to visit Fort Frederick State Park. I had been there before but refused to pay the entry fee. This time the park office was closed so I could get in for free.
It was a lonely day because I was the only one there. Here is my description of the fort which differs slightly from the official approved version from the maryland government.
In the 1700s several white people came to Maryland from Europe to make copious use of the potential farmland and the natural resources of this recently discovered area. The Indians, who were already happy on the land, didn't like the white people taking over. So the Indians started wreaking havoc on the white settlers with some raping, pillaging and killing. The white people were scared so they built a fort to cower behind until they could blow the Indians to Kingdom Come using their muskets, something the Indians didn't have. The Indians were defeated. Those that were not killed were sent to live on reservations in the desert, become alcoholics and enjoy liberal profits from their casinos. Why Indians can have casinos and the settlers cannot beats the heck out of me.