I have been writing recently about my daughter, Lise Courtney, who is participating in an Xtreme Hike in Mammoth Lake CA in September. She is fundraising $2500 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and she is training for the September event by hiking in the mountains around Washington, DC.
Yesterday, training meant a hike in the Catoctin Mountains. It was to be an eight mile hike in some really pretty countryside. Since I have never hiked (or even walked) in the Catoctins I thought it would be fun to "go along."
The Catoctin Mountain extended loop trail is an 8.6 mile loop trail near Thurmont, Maryland about 70 miles from Washington. It promises a view of the Cunningham Falls (Maryland's tallest waterfall) and is rated as difficult. On the other hand, the Park Service also says that dogs are able to use this trail but must be kept on a leash.
The loop is a combination of all the three major loops in the Catoctin Mountain Park and take you past Hog Rock, Wolf Rock, Chimney Rock, Thurmont Vista and the Blue Ridge Summit. It ranges from an easy walk to a challenging uphill hike but the views from the mountain top make it worth the effort.
We were only able to do about 5.5 miles of the hike however. When we arrived we discovered that part of the trail going past Hog Rock was closed for security reasons.
You see, Camp David is in the Catoctin Mountains very close to the trail - or at least too close for comfort of the Secret Service. I am not actually sure where Camp David is in the Mountains since it is not on any of the maps!
ALL ABOUT CAMP DAVID
Camp David, known formally as the Naval Support Facility Thurmont, is the President's country residence. Camp David offers Presidents an opportunity for solitude and tranquillity. Adapted from a federal employee retreat Hi-Catoctin, President Roosevelt established the residence as USS Shangri La, modeling the new main lodge after Roosevelt winter vacation home in Warm Springs, GA. President Eisenhower subsequently changed the institution to Camp David in honor of his grandson, David.
Happily no later president has changed the name of Camp David.
There are tennis courts, horseshoe pits, a swimming pool, skeet range, fishing and horseback riding. There is a golf driving range near the helicopter landing zine and a single golf hole outside Aspen Lodge, the Presidential cabin. There is also bowling, a movie theater, a fitness center, and basketball court. Of course, the mountains are right there for long hikes and bike rides, skiing, sledding, snow mobiling and ice skating.
Camp David was very popular with President Reagan who went there 186 times (probably to ride and chop wood!) and President George W. Bush visited 149 times. I remember that he was fond of playing horse shoes! On the other hand the Obamas only went 39 times - which probably reflects how hard it is to get away from home with teenage girls!
Since becoming President, Trump has gone to Mar A Lago frequently and other properties that he owns. I didn't imagine that he would ever go to Camp David, which is obviously a very nice property but a bit rustic. Of course, I was wrong. This was the weekend that the First Family chose to visit Camp David for the first time.
So while we were hiking in the Catoctin Mountains the helicopters were circling overhead bringing the Trumps to Camp David. Clearly it is a great place for a young boy to stretch his legs and play. Melania's mother came along too for the weekend according to the news reports so it was a full family visit!
Still, the helicopters didn't really disturb the peace in the mountains - at least not for long - and it was just another example of how Washington really is always there - extending its impact even into the solitude of the Catoctins! It was really a wonderful hike and I recommend it to anyone who wants to see something different in the Washington area!
If a mountain retreat is what you would like, just give the Lise Howe Group a call! I am sure we can find you something perfect!