Backpacking, Fall, Hiking

Fall Backpacking in Maryland

Last weekend Brady and I did our 4th and probably final backpacking trip of the year. We hadn’t gone backpacking since July so it was about time to plan another trip. The weather was looking like it was going to be the perfect hiking weather – topping out at 69 degrees both days – so we decided to section hike another portion of the Appalachian Trail in Maryland. We’ve previously done a couple overnight hikes going north of AT-40 parking lot which goes by Annapolis Rock and Black Rock as well as the southern 17.5 miles of Maryland to Harpers Ferry.

For this trip, we did an out-and-back from the AT-40 parking lot down to the Rocky Run shelter – overlapping a previous backpacking trip by about 1 mile.

Our hike started by crossing over I-70 and passing between a couple of private properties before heading into the woods. About 3 miles in, there’s a short spur trail to the Washington Monument which is the only real vista view for this section of the trail. The monument is a small stone structure built in 1827 by the people in Boonsboro, MD and it’s the first dedicated monument to George Washington. 

I didn’t take any photos of the structure itself but I took a few from the top where we paused to have our lunch/snack. I always like bringing something chewy and flavorful to break the dryness of eating protein bars, crackers, etc.. and these Panda licorice bars are one of my favorite treats.

A couple more miles down the trail, just before reaching the Dahlgren Backpacking Camp (showers and proper toilets), we crossed Rt-40 where we found this adorable stone church that’s right across from the Old South Mountain Inn. I told my sister later that this is where she needs to get married someday. I mean how perfectly picturesque is this spot!

We finally reached the Rocky Run shelter after about 4 hours of hiking including all our breaks. I was pretty hungry by this point so we split a Clif chocolate mint protein bar before setting up camp. It was my first time trying one of the protein bars and I was surprised by how good it was. There’s a really nice thick fudge-y layer on top of the bar and it kind of tasted like a brownie.

We weren’t hungry enough to bother cooking the hot dinner we’d brought so we had BabyBel cheese and Ritz crackers with Trader Joe’s gummies for dinner. All the wood nearby was dry so it didn’t take long to collect enough wood for a good campfire. Having a campfire is probably the best thing about backpacking/camping. It’s hard to let the fire die out when it’s time to go to bed because just watching it burn is so relaxing.

Hammock camping was great during the summer and so much more comfortable than sleeping in a mat on the ground. The problem last weekend was that the temperatures dropped down to at least 40 degrees overnight and to keep warm you had to stay bundled inside your sleeping bag. This meant that I wasn’t able to adjust as easily to get comfortable in the night. Between not fully feeling warm and the discomfort of sleeping so confined, I didn’t sleep too much after about 3-4 am. I waited until it was light enough outside – around 6:45 am – to get up since sunrise was so late and I started a fire with the embers from our fire the night before. 

Once Brady got up as well, we had our breakfast of hot chocolate and homemade apricot granola with powdered soy milk. We spent most of the morning sitting by the fire but we eventually got up and going on the trail by 10 am.

We stopped at Dahlgren backpacker camp to use the bathrooms and I found this guy chillin’ in the rocks. So cute.

The perfect picturesque church again.

The Washington Monument State Park has multiple picnic shelters so we stopped in the Mount Vernon shelter for lunch. For lunch we had homemade scotch oat cakes, honey roasted cashews, Trader Joe’s Scandinavian Swimmers, Trader Joe’s Hazelnut Chocolate Bars, a Clif protein bar, and licorice sticks.

I think we hiked the last 2-3 miles faster than we’d hiked the rest of the trail because we were tired and ready to sit down. This whole section hike felt like a roller coaster where you’re constantly going up or down and when you’re going up, it feels like you’re never going to reach the top. I will say that even though we had more incline on our second day, it was a beautiful morning and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. It took us the same amount of time to hike coming back and we reached the car around 2 pm. 

Appalachian Trail

When it’s all tallied up, we hiked almost 16 miles and I took almost 50,000 steps between both days of hiking. Now all we have left of the Appalachian Trail in Maryland is the 14.8 miles from the Pennsylvania border down to the Pogo Backpacker Camp. Who knows when we’ll get to backpacking it but I’m already looking forward to it.

 

2 years ago: Apple Picking at Larriland Farm

 

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