It was a cool, clear morning—the beginning of Fall—when eleven people and 10 dogs gathered at Little Bennett Regional Park in Clarksburg. Our hike leaders, Jenifer with Tigger, Pat with Mickey, and Jeff with Katy, welcomed everyone and we all introduced ourselves and our dogs. Participating today were Chuck and Lisa with Jester; Sarah and Eric with Toby and Poppy; Julie with Chevy; Phyllis with Cody; Shirley with Princess; and Karen with Loki.
After introductions and what has become known as “the speech” (discussion of the day’s hike and suggestions for safety on the trail, etc) maps, Tootsie Rolls and Blue Dog biscuits were distributed and we set out at a brisk pace. Fortunately this park has strategically placed trash cans which allowed everyone to start out hands free. We saw a couple of squirrels, a few overnight campers and a family group whose small children were excited about finding nuts and stones. But mostly we had the trails to ourselves.
As we traveled through the forest, we heard lots of different bird calls but nobody in our group was able to identify the birds making them. The terrain at Little Bennett is mostly rolling hills, with bridges over the stream crossings. Things got a little muddy down on the Stoney Brook Trail, and there were a couple of blowdowns to be negotiated, but otherwise it was a pretty, easy hike.
We stopped several times for water and snacks. After climbing up Whitetail to Bennett Ridge, we stopped for a slightly longer rest break and Sarah delighted everyone by passing around home-made cookies which, someone noted, “contain all the basic food groups!” Sarah modestly claimed they were “just oatmeal cookies” but they contained nuts, chocolate chips and raisins!
We then headed out to do the Woodcock Hollow loop and came back along Bennett Ridge to Acorn Hollow which, although short, is a very pretty trail. Another rest stop—this one fraught with anxiety when a couple of dogs got a little snappy. But people and dogs rose to the occasion magnificently! The group rallied round to help, and we quickly resumed the hike. Once back on the trail everyone settled back into “happy hiker” mode, and the rest of the day unfolded uneventfully. Little Bennett has signs at trail junctions but the trails are not blazed, so even though we were never very far from the roads, when we reached the parking area we felt we had “returned” to civilization.
(click on images for larger pictures)