Saturday I set out on the Knobstone Escarpment trail for the first time since January. It was a really beautiful blue sky day, although below freezing by a little when I set out.
I started at the Leota Trailhead, heading south toward my goal of mile 20.5 +/- where I had turned back in January. The map makes this section look pretty difficult. The beginning was exactly that. Leave the parking lot, walk down a steep hill to a road. Walk down the road to a hole in the guard rail. Walk down a steep hill to a creek. Now walk right back up another hill.
Once on top of this ridge, the trail seems to follow it for about one and one half miles. Then you go down hill slowly to a beautiful stream. The crossing is a little tricky, but this is a great spot. Then up a steep hill via a narrow switchback. Again seemingly flat to slightly down hill, into another beautiful stream bed. Then I just followed this stream to my goal. 4.75 miles, 2 hours. Nice.
Here I took a seat and had a snack. Along came a hiking man. Interesting. He started at Deem Lake the day before. After my snack, I started my return. In no real hurry, I enjoyed my surroundings, the birds, deer, a turkey that scared the poop out of me, and the geology. Then I saw two more peeps, poking through the rocks by the stream. Once back past mile 22, I started up what had seemed like a gradual slope coming down. Up that hill, down the switchbacks, across the stream, and up the next “gradual” slope. I encountered a fourth hiker here, equaling my total of persons seen on the trail from the start, in one day.
Around now I started to realize that for most of the outbound leg I had been slowly descending, in terms of general elevation. So the return leg was an overall ascension of the same trail. With the 9th pit of misery yet to cross before I was done. I was moving really slow by this time. My knees started to hurt, and the last 1.5 miles were true agony. A casual observer, watching me scale the valley up to the guardrail, up the road, across it, and up the really steep stairs/roots of the last 100 yards, would have wondered why that fat old man was even out here trying this.
This fat, old man was wondering the same thing.