Winter Hike at Sugarloaf Mountain

Last Sunday I made my way back to Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland off of I-270. I seem to have run out of creative ideas for training hikes as Winter’s worn on. I don’t really want to test my poor little Ford Focus further west into the mountains with the potential for icy conditions, not to mention that it was all I could do to muster the energy for a hike.

Honestly, I spent all of Saturday lazily hanging out in my apartment, and when I woke up on Sunday I wasn’t really motivated to drive an hour-plus in each direction to exercise. Usually, that lack of motivation is an indication that I need to exercise. However, in this case, the real motivation was that I couldn’t bear to see those boxes that needed to be packed one more minute. The only solution was to leave my apartment and go for a hike.

After bumming around for a few hours, I finally made it out the door at 11am. I had to run a couple of errands and eventually arrived at Sugarloaf at noon, at which point the entire parking lot by the entrance was full.

Since I’ve never had this problem before, I wasn’t sure where to go, so I ended up making a sharp right in the parking lot and winding my way slowly up the side of the mountain. My instincts were sound because I eventually came to another parking lot labeled “East View” that was about half full.

I got out of the car, walked over to the expansive view, and decided that it was better than any of the views to which I’d be hiking. For a fleeting moment, I thought, “I might as well just sit here and enjoy it. No use in hiking to a view of a smokestack.” But then the angel on my other shoulder knocked some sense into me, and I made my way toward the white-blazed trail.

What a great view. Mission accomplished. Maybe I'll just take a nap instead.

What a great view. Mission accomplished. Maybe I’ll just take a nap instead.

I hiked around the peak of the mountain until the white trail met the blue trail, deciding to ascend the summit on my return. Since my new pack hadn’t yet arrived, I carried only a day pack, and I felt like I was flying. There were several points at which I got the urge to break into a run. Here I’ve been lamenting to myself how I’ve gained weight and am out of shape, but it’s a whole different story without 30+ pounds strapped to my back.

It's been a rough Winter for Sugarloaf. This tree fell on the trail. Luckily nobody was around, but unfortunately that means we'll never know if it made a sound.

It’s been a rough Winter for Sugarloaf. This tree fell on the trail. Luckily nobody was around, but unfortunately that means we’ll never know if it made a sound.

The blue trail eventually met up with the purple trail, which is an old horse trail that curves wide along the northern boundary of the property.

A muddy mess. Score! My boots really got a workout.

A muddy mess. Score! My boots really got a workout.

I veered right to follow it around to where it stops abruptly and then turned right back onto the blue trail to reach the White Rocks overlook.

I gueeeess it's as good as the view at the parking lot.

I gueeeess it’s as good as the view at the parking lot.

After sitting for a few minutes and having a snack, I continued on the blue loop until I made my way to the other side of the mountain from where I started. I crossed the West View parking lot and picked up the green trail with its winding stone steps to reach the summit, after which I picked up the orange trail back to the East View parking area.

I was really surprised by how steep the orange trail was. I’m sure I could’ve made it with a loaded pack, but I’m glad I didn’t have to try. Several times on my descent, I sat on my bum and shimmied down, not having confidence that I wouldn’t involuntarily project myself down the mountain otherwise.

Once I returned to my car, peeled off my sweaty long-sleeved layer, and unlaced my boots in favor of a pair of slippers, I got on my way. I followed the one-way road as it wound down the far side of the mountain and spitted out at the main parking lot by the entrance.

When all was said and done, I hiked about 6 miles. I may not have been carrying a loaded pack, but considering I was thiiiiiis close to sitting on my bum and watching T.V. all day, I’ll consider it a win.

Meandering on,

Jordana

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8 thoughts on “Winter Hike at Sugarloaf Mountain

  1. That reminds me of a french guy (I am french myself) named Gerard d’Abboville (spelling approximate). He was the first guy to have crossed the Atlantic ocean on a solo row boat. He admitted his total lack of training before he left (he was way too busy with logistics and media, so he did not train at all.!..), but did not think it was a big deal. In his mind, the first 2 weeks were going to be his training. He made it, by taking it easy initially. Since you have done quite few day hikes, you are way ahead of D’abboville. Good luck!

    • You seem to have gotten right inside my head! As I approach my start date, I’ve been focusing on packing/moving, getting the last bits of gear, figuring out mail drop locations, etc. So hard to motivate myself to hike!

  2. Glad you got out, and thanks for the souvenirs. It reminds me of many winter hikes in the winter, before I moved to New England.
    By the way, if you wanted a real workout, you should have tried trekking around Boston. Crossing the Harvard Yard on Sunday night after the blizzard was icy and treacherous. Would that qualify as a training hike?

  3. If you’re looking for additional places to hike in Maryland, try Green Ridge State Forest and Savage River SF. They’re a bit farther west, but worth the drive if you have a whole weekend and the weather isn’t bad. There’s a 17 mile backpacking trail at Savage River, if you go NOBO you start off with a climb of over 1,000′. It’s a pretty good way to get your trail legs before going to Springer 🙂

  4. Well, you’re all set for the first time you get off trail on the AT and you suddenly realize that you are ‘lost’, it happens to everyone. It is especially frustrating when you have to backtrack a half hour or more.

    • Oh I’m definitely ready for it. I’ve been getting lost for years. My first memory of it is at the age of about 10, but that story’s for another time I think.

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