Appalachian Trail: Old South Mountain Inn to Washington Monument State Park

I hear the food is good, but I think we were under-dressed!

I hear the food is good, but I think we were under-dressed!

During our series of AT day hikes, we somehow missed two miles of trail between the Old South Mountain Inn (Boonsboro, Md.) and Washington Monument State Park.  It seemed like it would be a pretty mundane stretch of trail, but we ran into plenty of interesting architecture, history, and folklore while barely getting out of the shadow of the inn.

Dahlgren Chapel

Dahlgren Chapel

For starters, the Dahlgren Chapel (circa 1881) is just down the road from the inn.  It was built by Madeline Vinton Dahlgren, the widow of Admiral John A. Dahlgren.  The Admiral invented the Dahlgren Gun, which was used aboard the USS Monitor during its famous sea battle against the CSS Virginia (aka the Merrimack).

"Pregnant Triangle" logo and white blaze

“Pregnant Triangle” logo and white blaze

And then there’s the Snarly Yow!  This beast is a large, black dog seemingly right out of Conan-Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles.  The “Yow” allegedly prowls in the vicinity of the inn and is reputed to have had a well-aimed bullet pass through it without affect.  Another pedestrian traveler armed with a club reputedly had “hand-to-fang” combat with the creature.  Neither man nor beast was harmed in the conflict.  Even so, I didn’t have much faith in myself while facing such a monster with a hiking pole and Swiss Army knife.

AT heading uphill on South Mountain

AT heading uphill on South Mountain

After reading about the Snarly Yow, I had some reservations about this hike, but after a fairly sharp climb in the beginning, the dirt (not rock!) path evened out before dropping down the other side at a moderate rate.  I looked over my shoulder for the first mile or so, but there was no sign of the ghost dog.  Convinced of our safety (he typed sarcastically), we pressed on to Washington Monument before heading  back.   Occasionally, we’re fortunate enough to meet some interesting people during our hikes, and today we hit the jackpot with southbound thru-hikers “Rooster” and Alice (she hasn’t picked up a trail name).  The pair expects to reach Georgia in February (BRRRR!!!!!), and they gave us some great information on cold weather camping and both preparing and mailing dehydrated food.  In fact, they have a box waiting for them at the Boonsboro Post Office.  If Rooster and Alice even see this post, it won’t be any time soon, but we’re rooting for them the rest of the way! I’ll feel sorry for them tonight, but–big picture–I’m totally jealous!

Smokey says be careful!

Smokey says be careful!

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3 responses to this post.

  1. I saw a documentary once about a couple who hiked the east side and had hidden areas they’d stored food for their adventure prior to. What a fun way to explore our world. I admit, I’d have been concerned about a yowling slobber fanged creature… maybe it isn’t always the wind we hear in the night…. I need my blankie now. *pops thumb into her mouth*

    Reply

    • Posted by LevelWalker on November 16, 2014 at 9:53 pm

      I admit it. I love folklore and try to throw everybody an occasional curve. The Bigfoot prank was a feeble attempt to get Candee off of the AT and back on the canal. I have a couple of posts in the works, and my stunt just may have worked.

      Reply

  2. Well your own backyard (so to speak) is quite beautiful and plentiful with history and and wonder.

    Reply

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