26 April 2021. Day 29. 13.9 Miles + 339.7 Miles = 353.6 Miles. Dahlgren’s Camp Ground to Ensign Cowell Shelter. We’re Busting Maryland!

08:18. Dahlgren Chapel at Tucker Gap in Maryland

Across the street from The Old South Mountain Inn sits this decent looking chapel. I’d tell you something about it but all I know is it’s name and the fact that it was built about 1889 +-. You see it’s now several days later and I’m lying on my back in my tent listening to the rain fall. My tent is set up next to a pretty neat creek which is making the sound of water pretty much what life is all about right now. Oh…… and there is no internet signal. That is the reason that I can’t tell you anything about the Dahlgren Chapel. I’m sure that everyone, including me, will live another day not knowing more.

09:20. The Original Washington Monument

But……. this is cool. I didn’t know that there was a Washington Memorial Monument before there was a Washington Memorial Monument. As the sign says local citizens got together and decided to build this evidently because they didn’t have much else to do. Think of the possibilities: In Walhalla we could all get together and build the Bill Chiles or Dick Mangrum or P.R. Johnson or Abed Yassen Memorial Monuments. Then 200 years from now people could drive down Main Street trying to find a place to park just to figure out who those fellows were.

09:22 The Maryland Countryside Below

In front of the monument is this somewhat decent view of …….progress….. or pollution…. or…

10:39 The Foot Crossing For the Interstate Highway

I took this picture because I was sitting on the ground attempting to figure out how my mother was doing with her rehab back home. You spend a lot of time just holding the phone when you’re attempting to get this kind of information. Sheer boredom drove me to take this picture because it gave my right index finger something to do. I have already entitled it and I’m sure some day it will be displayed in the Walhalla Museum of Art.

11:59. Trail Maintenance Along the Way

We would not have trails if it was not for the work of women or men like this. As I approached her I thanked her for the work she was doing. “I can’t believe hikers step on these things before they are seated,” she barked. Fear enveloped me and I quickly retraced my steps with my eyes to make sure that I had not encroached on her work space.

I tried again. “You guys must put in thousands of man hours to keep the trails open.” She didn’t answer. I asked her for her name so I could mention the wonderful work people like her were doing. She looked away. Just then Papa Muskrat came up the hill behind me. “That was my very first job when I first got out of college!” She looked at him with the look of “what do you expect me to do with that information?”

I continued up the hill. It was obvious that she enjoyed her volunteer work and took great pride in it. The joy of it issued forth from every pore of her body. Bless her heart!

You know what? Forget her greeting to me. There is no telling what’s going on in her life. The important thing is that she’s voluntarily out doing work that will benefit thousands of hikers. Now we can really bless her heart.

14:14 Myersville, Maryland. The Views are now not as Dramatic

14:08. Papa Muskrat and the Joy of French Fries

Adventure discovered that you could order pizza from the trail and have it delivered to the trailhead. The Dude, Action, Adventure and I sat on a pile of assorted rock on the trail and planned our order. Suddenly from above we heard, “Italian sub, extra Mayo, no banana peppers, a Pepsi and fries!” We looked up and there appeared Papa Muskrat. ” I was hiking along and not feeling all that well. I had decided that I would get off the trail at the road. Then I heard Italian Sub and everything was once again right with the world!” We added his order. Once ordered The Dude nearly ran down the last mile of the Rocky Mountain. “I didn’t want anyone else to get it!”

14:08. Italian Subs and Pizza: Defib, The Dude and Action

Yes there is a Santa Claus. The topic of discussion while waiting for the delivery was, of course, food. We sat right next to the turn off to make it easier for the delivery driver. A few minutes later a young boy arrived. He looked at us and drove by. He drove all the way to the back of the parking lot. It must be a hiker. He couldn’t have been any further from us and still be in the same state. Then he opened his back door and there was our food. We all groaned as we collectively attempted to get our mangled bodies back up on our feet and hobble to the young man who obviously had never hiked before.

Soon our pains were forgotten as we tore into the sandwiches. “What I’m most excited about is that there are trash cans here!” exclaimed The Dude. For more than a month we have been living under the code , “Pack it in, pack it out.” Finally we wouldn’t have to haul trash!

16:49. Ensign Cowell Memorial Shelter: Adventure , The Dude and Action

We all arrived at the next shelter at about the same time. It was empty and although we all (except Muskrat) normally tented we opted to sleep in the shelter. Soon we were joined by After Five who is named that because as soon as 5 pm hits he’s looking for a place to camp.

19:29. Duct Tape

It had been a difficult rock strewn hike and we were all beat. When Adventure described the group for the pizza delivery boy she had told them a woman with a bunch of old geezers. Now we had recreated the scenario at the shelter. Soon we were joined by Duct Tape who came down from his tent to share our picnic table.

See? Aging doesn’t mean you have to give up on reliving moments of your youth. You can still run for a piece of pizza, be excited about a French fry, find humor where there is sometimes none. You can hike on with others who still like the outdoors, like the challenge, like the comradely and accept the aches and pains of it all. Hobble on……. wheeze.

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