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Trail blazers eat cherry pie at end of hike

February 19, 2000|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

BOONSBORO - Among the more than 100 people who hit the Appalachian Trail Saturday for the three-mile "Cherry Pie Hike" were a grandfather and his three grandsons, and two young sisters from Australia.

The morning event was held to celebrate George Washington's birthday, to promote the goals of the Friends of the Washington Monument organization and to provide its participants with a good time.

The hike, which ended with cherry pie, and hot coffee or hot chocolate for the participants, was an annual event through the 1980s that dropped off in the early 1990s. No one knows why, said Dave Weesner, a Maryland park ranger and coordinator of Saturday's hike.

"There were problems with manpower, and the weather conditions are tricky this time of year," Weesner said. "If this had been held three weeks ago, the trail was under a foot-and-a-half of snow."

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As it was, Friday's snow and rain made for slushy conditions on the stretch of the Appalachian Trail from U.S. 40 where the hike began, to the Washington Monument on the Frederick/Washington County line where it ended. Most of the hike was on level ground except for the last quarter-mile which climbed about 200 feet to the monument, Weesner said.

Terry McGee, president of the Friends of the Washington Monument, said the support group is down to about five active members. The organization provided the in-kind service of a local match for a federal grant that was used to improve conditions around the monument.

The monument is part of the state's South Mountain Recreation Area which also includes Greenbrier State Park, Gathland State Park and the Maryland portion of the Appalachian Trail.

Bill Brooks Sr. said he saw a notice of the hike at home in Ellicott City so he rounded up his three grandsons and headed to Boonsboro Saturday morning. Besides Brooks were grandsons Jesse Hoffman, 10, Ian Hoffman, 13, and Mike Griasser, 13. It was their first look at the monument, built in honor of Washington.

"We're here because we love the outdoors and we like to hike," Brooks said.

Jennifer Alderson, 10, and her younger sister, Elizabeth, are from Australia and are living temporarily in Baltimore. Their father, a teacher Down Under, is here on a teacher exchange program.

It was Jennifer's first hike.

"It was hard going up the hill, but I liked it. I guess I'll do some more," she said.

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