I admit it: I hate to shop. The invention of internet shopping freed me of — nearly — ever having to set foot in a mall. So while everyone else is up at 1 a.m. on Black Friday to get the best deals on the hottest new toy, I am sleeping off the effects of overindulgence. And as much as I dislike shopping, that’s how much I adore Thanksgiving dinner. Oh! the carbs, carbs, carbs, carbs!
But the day after Thanksgiving Day is my husband’s domain. In a tradition begun with his mother and a recipe she found in a 1960’s Gourmet magazine, my husband makes turkey soup. It takes all day, using every pot and pan in our kitchen —and one spatula (but that’s a story for another day). It’s best for our marriage (and my health) if I vacate the building on Friday. But what to do when one is decidedly not a shopper?
If the weather is nice —and by nice, I mean not raining —I say head outdoors and take a hike. (I have to clarify what I mean by “nice” because my sons tend to disagree with my definition.) Sure, I can always stay inside, sit on my duff, and watch college football. But I figure I need to exercise off that stuffing, cranberry-orange sauce, and blueberry pie. Plus, it’s a great way to work up an appetite for some delicious hot soup I know will be waiting when I arrive home. Who knows, the last vestiges of fall leaves may still be clinging to the trees and I’ll be rewarded with a visual feast to complement the tremendous repast enjoyed the previous day.
We are fortunate to live in an area rich with hiking trails, either paved and rustic. Hiking is really just a fancy term for walking in the woods. Special equipment isn’t required, but shoes with good treads for traction are recommended. If I’m walking on a paved track, I might choose to wear sneakers; otherwise, I wear low-rise hiking shoes.
More important than the shoes, I believe socks are the key to a quality hike. If you can at all afford it, don’t wear cotton socks: they get wet and then you’ll feel the cold more quickly. Better to purchase one good pair of wool hiking socks (my favorite brand is SmartWool). Wool socks aren’t the itchy wool from the sweater like your grandma knitted, so you needn’t worry about that. The wool absorbs moisture created by your sweaty feet, so your feet stay nice and toasty while you hike in the cold.
Now that you have your footwear figured out, it’s time to hit the trail. Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources has guides available for download and having a trail map is good investment. Because I like to hike, I’ve also invested in two excellent books: Hiking Maryland & Delaware by David Lillard & Chris Reiter and Baltimore Trails by Bryan Mackay. Check them out, if you find hiking is your cup of tea.
Here are some of my favorite family hikes in Central Maryland:
- Forest Glen Trail (0.6 miles, one way, moderate difficulty) – Hilton Area (Catonsville) , Patapsco State Park (added bonus of this area is the excellent recycled tire park, perfect for 5-12 year olds.) Cost: $2.00 entry per vehicle payable on the honor system.
- Lost Pond Trail (4.2 miles circuit, easy-to-moderate difficulty) – Belair Road, Gunpowder State Park. Parking on right just off Belair road. Cost: free.
- Oregon Ridge Park Loop (4 miles, easy) – Oregon Ridge, Baltimore County. Water and restrooms available at the nature center, which is open until 5 p.m. Cost: free.
- Centennial Park Loop (2.4 miles, easy) – Centennial Park, Howard County. Water and restrooms available at the boat rental office. Cost: free.
As always, please put safety first when hitting the trails. Follow these guidelines:
- Wear appropriate foot wear.
- Know your route and be prepared for emergencies.
- Carry water and a snack for every hiker.
- First aid kit recommended.
- Dress for the weather, layers recommended.
- Let someone know your itinerary and route — cell phones are not reliable.
Come Black Friday, I’ll see you on the trails!