The literal crunch of Washington-area traffic left Michael Seth without a functioning car, so he was unable to lead the scheduled Whetstone Ridge hike. John Shannon rustled through the archives and proposed the
hike, which we had not walked for 3 or 4 years. With years to forget the
details, and fact sheets left at home, information about the hike was sketchy,
but everyone knew that they faced an all uphill afternoon. Hazel River
Although the calendar said spring, the low temperatures suggested otherwise, and a gale at Thornton Gap felt like winter. However, the long lines at the entrance station and restrooms, plus a full parking lot, indicated that other outdoor enthusiasts thought it was spring.
|The falls on Hazel River|
Soon after starting the hike, we dropped into areas sheltered from the cold, westerly wind and enjoyed the pleasant temperatures and descent. At one of the trail junctions, John recalled how some years earlier, when the group departed before he arrived, he saw broccoli on the ground and declared, “Leon Gorman was here;” immediately knowing which trail to take.
Most people today chose to make the steep descent to the waterfalls and miniature cave by the
. We found the scenery was
worth the effort but then faced the steep ascent back to the trail. Hazel
After another steep descent to the
and crossing it, we stopped
for lunch. Then the ascent started, and people spread out, with coats coming
off and water bottles coming out. When Maynard Davis and John Shannon cut part
of a tree across the trail, the other hikers enjoyed a little break. Hazel
Shortly thereafter, we encountered a group we had seen earlier. The group included a pit bull, whose humans professed: “He’s friendly.” The dog proceeded to growl at three of us. The dog was not on a leash as required by the Park Service, which has listed the deleterious effects of dogs wandering freely in the park. We later warned some others heading down with dogs that they would encounter an unleashed pit bull.
Andy Willgruber and his lucky passengers (John Brandt, Marian Styles, and Dan Funkhouser) stopped at the Little Country Store in Etlan for ice cream and barbecued chicken. Others on the hike included Dave Borszich, Rita Keiffer, Joanne Davis, Lindsay Brown, Eric Christenson, and Barbara Wilson.