Sunday I set out to do another leg on the Knobstone Escarpment Trail. This leg was from the New Chapel Trailhead, heading north. Mile 21 was the goal. As you know, I am doing this alone, so the goal is always to make it halfway to the next trailhead. No spotting cars, no shuttles. Just me and a trail.
It was a simply stupid day for January, low 30’s when I started, low 50’s by noon. Sunny and calm. Perfect. It has been rainy there, so the trail was muddy, and very slippery, being covered with wet leaves.
From this parking lot, like most of the others so far, you go right down hill. So of course, you then go right back up. After that, it was really pretty level, following a ridge top for almost 2 miles. This is a beautiful section and I really enjoyed it. Quite a ways after Mile 19 you drop along a side hill into a deep ravine. This area is exceptional. After traveling a very short way in the ravine, you climb back out the other side. There I followed another ridge top for a short ways. The trail then dives into another deep hole. I opted to not go into that one as I was already over 3.5 miles out. Remember, if you go down there, you get to climb back up to here.
Hopefully, from Leota coming back will not be too difficult, by Knobstone standards, and I can reach today’s stopping point easily.
I went back to Mile 20 and took a break. This ravine, valley, gorge, cove, holler, is simply beautiful. I actually am glad I got to see it in the winter as no pesky green leaves blocked my view. I saw a Pileated Woodpecker, a gray squirrel, and a Mourning Dove. The dove surprised me as I was deep in the woods. I guess I assumed they lived by roads, power lines, and my back yard, not the deep woods.
There was clean running water today, which is not always the case. I love to drink this water through my Life Straw. The stream beds are limestone, and the water is so clear and cold.
After I got back on top, I was briskly striding home. And then, out of the woods, came two hikers. I never see anybody on this trail, so we stopped and chatted about exactly that for a minute. Then I pushed on. I got a little careless on the home stretch, ignoring the fact that the trail was wet and slippery, and down I went. A graceful splits, followed by some spastic waving of my walking stick, and a solid splat into the wet leaves. No injury, no pain, and no one to see it. Perfect.
I felt extremely lucky to get in a day like this in January, and I truly enjoyed it.