Sunday, March 8, 2015

Hiking in the Snow and Brewing Beer

We got a lot of snow on Thursday, at least for this area. I got to telework for two days. At our house, we had about seven inches and the reports from the mountains were of a foot. We decided to attempt snowshoeing in Shenandoah yesterday with two friends. There isn't usually enough snow there to break out the snowshoes, but this seemed like the storm where it might be possible. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the trailhead, there wasn't quite enough snow, just about six inches. Other than that, though, we had a great day hiking up the Pass Mountain Trail and on the Appalachian Trail.

Pass Mountain Trail goes from the park boundary up to the Appalachian Trail. The trailhead is right on a curve on Highway 211 - on the opposite side of the road from the parking area. The most dangerous part of the hike is crossing the highway to the trailhead. The trail follows an old road bed for half a mile to the saddle below Oventop Mountain. At one of the switchbacks, we were lucky enough to see bear tracks crossing the trail. Beyond the saddle, the trail steadily climbs towards Pass Mountain Hut, one of the shelters just off of the Applachian Trail. We paused for lunch there, enjoying the sun and the 40 degree temperatures, which was a full 25 degrees warmer than the morning.

After lunch, we continued up the hill to the Appalachian Trail and then over Pass Mountain and down to Beahms Gap on Skyline Drive. The drive was closed, so the road was completely quiet except for one ranger who stopped to chat with us for a few minutes. Then we retraced our steps south on the Appalachian Trail and down Pass Mountain. We hiked ten miles in absolutely perfect weather. The snow was beautiful and the sun made it feel like spring might actually be coming soon.
A double-trunk tree at Pass Mountain Hut. The tree grew together above the initial split in the trunk, forming a hole between the two trunks.
Fungus on a cut log in the snow.
Our canine escort checking out an overlook.
Neighbor Mountain from the Appalachian Trail.
The slopes of Neighbor Mountain.
Hogback Mountain, Mount Marshall, and the Peak from Beahms Gap
A stump in the snow.
An empty Skyline Drive at Beahm's Gap
A dead tree in front of the Peak
Michael, one of our friends and her dog on Skyline Drive.
This isn't a great picture, but note how the grain of the wood beds around the curve in the stump. The tree must have lived for some time after falling over.
Pass Mountain trail in the late afternoon.

Michael's Birthday present last year  was to be a beer brewing class at Flying Barrel* in Frederick, Maryland. They do a class where you choose the type of beer that you want to brew, they provide the ingredients, and they walk you through the process. We took several months to try to get it scheduled, then it snowed twice on the days we had scheduled it and finally, today, he got to do his beer brewing class. He loved it. He made a porter. The instructor was really good and he was partnered with a guy who was making an IPA, so he got to see how a completely different kind of beer was made. In two weeks, he gets to go back and bottle it. Two weeks after that, it will be ready to drink.
Measuring out the grains.
Pulling the cheesecloth sack of grains out of the kettle.
Stirring the malt to keep it from burning to the bottom of the kettle.

*We paid for the class.

No comments:

Post a Comment