Cherry Pie Hike held in honor of George Washington

February 20, 2002

Cherry Pie Hike held in honor of George Washington



Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee described George Washington, in a eulogy, as "first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen."

Allen Kirk of Waynesboro, Pa., and his son, Andrew, were last to step on the Appalachian Trail during Saturday's "Cherry Pie Hike" to honor Washington's birthday.

The Kirks walked at a leisurely pace, at the back of a pack of about 220 people.

Allen Kirk said he hiked the trail about 10 years ago and got lost. This time, he smiled as he held up his trail preparedness kit: a cell phone and bear repellent spray.


"Every Thanksgiving, my family does a seven- or eight-mile hike (before dinner), closer to Waynesboro ...," he said. "It makes for a satisfying meal. We don't meet too many people out on that day. It's pretty quiet."

Saturday wasn't Thanksgiving, and it didn't feel like winter, either.

It was sunny and above 50 degrees. The weather seemed appropriate to celebrate the birth of Jefferson (April), or perhaps Truman or Kennedy (May).

But it was a Washington event.

The Cherry Pie Hike was organized by the park service in the mid-1980s, but stopped after about five years, Park Ranger Dave Weesner said.

The event was revived two years ago, with help from Friends of Washington Monument State Park.

The 2000 hike was through wet, slushy snow and last year's was in a brisk wind, said Terry McGee of Boonsboro, president of Friends of Washington Monument State Park.

This year, there was nothing but sunshine.

Shuttle buses went from the parking lot at Washington Monument State Park to the Appalachian Trail.

People got out and hiked the three miles or so back.

The marked trail was mostly flat, but rugged. Children hopped along rocks that protruded from the ground like stone knuckles.

Leaves covered the path, but they were withered and crumbly, entirely zapped of their crunch.

Hot drinks and small cherry pies - symbolic of a young Washington supposedly chopping down a cherry tree - awaited at the end.

Jonathan Lea-Wilson, who lives near Frederick, Md., chaperoned his children - Marie, 12; Matthew, 11; Andrew, 7; Joel, 6; and Kenny, 4.

Lea-Wilson said his wife, Ruth, who home schools the children, hopes to plan a family hike along the entire Appalachian Trail. She found out about another home school family that did it and contacted them.

"We're definitely going to do it," but not all at once, Matthew said.

Jenny Woodall of Frederick isn't sure what her daughter, Ylena, who is almost 2 years old, will remember of Saturday.

Probably the "beep-beep" from cars and trucks on a nearby highway acknowledging hikers on an overpass, Woodall said.

And probably the "chick-a-chick" of the whirring blades as a helicopter passed overhead.

Maybe not the walking, though - Ylena rode most of the way in a carrier on her mother's back.

Ylena's father, Jim Goldsberry, and her grandparents, Jim and Margaret Goldsberry, who live on Maryland's Eastern Shore, walked along with Woodall.

"Eight girls, five adults and one token Brownie" is how Paulette Blount described her Junior Girl Scout group from Jessup, Md.

"It sounded like a good outdoor adventure for the girls," said Blount, the troop leader.

It was the first part of a hiking badge. She said part two will be a Chesapeake Bay Bridge Walk.

On Saturday, Ruth was the only one of the Lea-Wilsons who couldn't make the hike.

The rest of the family started out strong. After 30 minutes, they sat and snacked on bananas and fig bars before continuing on.

Kenny eventually grew weary, and his father carried him up the steep uphill finale.

"I definitely got my sweat today," Jonathan Lea-Wilson said.

The family Appalachian trek, he said, will probably wait until Kenny is a little older.

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