(click on thumbnail images for full size picture)
3.5 or 7 miles
It was a dark and stormy night...
But fortunately the much needed rain cleared up by Saturday morning for
our October hike at Cedarville State forest, near Brandywine, MD. This
was our first K9TB hike at Cedarville, but a favorite hiking spot of hike
co-leader, Cheryl Babik, who introduced it to us. The
day started out cloudy and cool; perfect hiking weather for the 9 hikers
and 6 dogs that gathered at the trailhead.
We had a group of veteran K9TBr's and one rookie. Our K9TB pros were: Cheryl with Jess,
Lisa and Chuck with Jester, Alice with Diva, Jennifer with Tigger, Nancy
with Callie, Nancy's friend Barb, and hike co-leader, Jeff. Pat showed
up with our rookie, Rory, her new Terv pup.
In keeping with the season, our pre-Halloween scare was the notice that
hunting season had begun in the forest. But other than a seeing a few camouflaged
hunters, and hearing a couple distant shots, we didn't have any further surprises.
Cheryl provided the treats: homemade dog biscuits for all the
dogs! Alice also provided some chocolate treats for our human hikers.
With the tricks and treats out of the way we headed out down the "White"
trail for the first loop of our hike. The trail followed a mostly level path
through the beautiful autumn forests. Human hikers enjoyed the fall colors.
The trees were just starting to change, and the greens were fading
to yellows, reds, and oranges. The dogs enjoyed the cool fall weather,
the sights and smells along the trail, and showing newbie, Rory, the ropes
on the trail and at our breaks at the well marked trail junctions.
We finished up our first loop in a bit over an hour, and said good bye
to Pat and Rory, and Jennifer and Tigger. Rory did a great job, and
we all look forward to hiking with our junior K9 Trailblazer on future
hikes. With our good byes said, the remaining group headed on down
the "Blue" trail for our second, 4 mile hike. This loop highlighted
a couple of interesting natural and man-made features in the forest. After
hiking through the forest, and past some old, abandoned camping areas, we
came to the headwaters of the Zakiah swamp; Maryland's largest freshwater
swamp. The sun had finally burned off the remaining clouds and fog,
and made the fall colors seem even brighter. From there we headed past
the competition archery ranges. The archers must have been scared away
by the threat of rain and hunters, because none of the many ranges were occupied.
Our last leg of the hike took us past a nice watering hole that gave the
dogs a chance to take a well deserved break. Jester and Callie particularly
enjoyed the water, with Callie really wanting Nancy to join her. Fortunately,
in spite of Callie's best efforts, Nancy was able to stay dry. The
group finished up the hike with lunch by one of Cedarville Forest's historic
features: a charcoal kiln that provided fuel for Maryland parks up into the
1950's. After lunch, with 7.5 miles of new trail mileage under our
belts (and collars), the hikers loaded up their cars and headed back home.
Special thanks to Cheryl for not only picking out a great hiking area,
and volunteering to co-lead for the first time, but also going far above and
beyond the call of duty by providing homemade treats. This was truly a
hike of firsts: Our first trip to Cedarville, Cheryl's premier as a
hike co-leader, and Rory's first hike. We're all looking forward to
seeing those firsts repeat!