December 18, 2017 | Posted in WooFPAK Heroes

Turner’s Gap is a wind gap in the South Mountain Range of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which is located between two counties in Maryland. It’s traversed by U.S. Route 40 Alternate, also known as the old National Pike.

And, through the path that the WooFPAK are currently traversing, by the Appalachian Trail. The gap itself is nearly two hundred feet below the ridgeline. To the east of the gap, one can find Middletown Valley. To the west, one can locate Hagerstown Valley. Fox’s Gap is far to the south.

Jag spends the whole time with his head pressed against the window, eagerly taking in the way that the trees begin to grow sparse, the way that the rocks become far more prevalent. They park the Jumbo Jet a few feet away from the edge of the ridge; unload the dogs and hook up their halters.

It’s been a long drive. Most of the husky dogs are rearing to go, and Jag is no exception.

He stretches and yawns. Jag says, “I don’t know about you lot, but I’m ready to go for a climb.”

Chase eagerly shifts from paw to paw. “Where do you think we’re going to walk first? I still want to find a good stick!”

Zarro asks, “is looking for a stick the only thing you’re worried about?”

“I mean, it’s not the only thing. It’s just, you know, a big part of it! We’re going to try and do other stuff, sure, but I really want to take something home with us. I want a really cool stick,” says Jag.

“Okay,” announces WooFDriver. He’s showing the other members of the pit crew something on his phone. “I’m thinking we’ll cut through this part of the trail –“

Chris interrupts, asking, “you want to go off the path?”

WooFDriver hums. “Yeah. I was reading about it online, in some reviews. A lot of people do it, so it’s not a big deal. And if we cut through this way, we can get to Annapolis Rock in half the time!”

Rhett asks, “and what’s so special about Annapolis Rock?”

“It’s just really popular,” says WooFDriver. “It buttes up against Greenbriar Lake and Black Rock Cliff.”

At the mention of a lake, Rhett’s face lights up. “That sounds like a plan to me!”

They leave the parking area just off of US40 and start down the paced section of the connector trail. Chase pulls at the leash, trying to check out every stick that he comes across. Sometimes, he says, “this one isn’t right. No! No, not this one either!”

It’s a seventy five yard walk down to the intersection of the Appalachian Trail and the pedestrian bridge over I70. They try to rush through this part, no one interested in being so close to the highway. The sound of cars rushing past beneath them cuts a sharp line through the peace that the trail would otherwise bring.

Chris complains, “I don’t get why everyone likes this place so much.”

Rhett offers, “maybe the charm comes later?”

“It will,” promises WooFDriver. “You should have seen the pictures!”

Later just doesn’t seem to come. This se3ction of the hike is noisy with traffic. It’s not until after they ascend the South Mountain ridge and make a sharp right that the sound of cars finally starts to fade into the background.

But, even with the sounds gone, nothing about the trail is particularly gripping. It quickly gives way to a utility clear cut, and the connector trail for the Pine Knob Shelter. There are two large campsites, each one fit for multiple tents.

WooFDriver scowls at them. “This is why I want to cut off the trail. It’s beautiful out here…but I’m tired of being around so many people.”

Rhett nods to the left. “It looks like it gets more steep up that way.”

WooFDriver says, “we should just cut through the woods and go to the lake.”

“I do love lakes,” says Rhett.

Chris asks, “is it worth possibly getting lost?”

WooFDriver snorts. “We’re not going to get lost. Relax, Chris. This is the best choice we’ve got.”


Katelynn E Koontz – Author