I wobbled south down the Maryland/ West Virginia border, crisscrossing the imaginary line that separates the states a dozen times. The trailhead was in West Virginia, the tree-shaded path dipping over the controversial “Deakins Line” among plat markers hammered in by its weary surveyors.
The trail was soft and damp under the fallen leaves, and inclined relentlessly uphill like a ramp, acorns rolling treacherously beneath my feet on the steep grade. I navigated a few trail junctions by blazes of spraypaint on the trees, the turns muffling any sounds of civilization from the road below. Chipmunks chirped from the underbrush and the tall trees creaked and scraped in the breeze. A bobcat streaked across the trail ahead of me, so fast it didn’t even leave footprints in the acorn-strewn mud.
The trees closed in a little tighter, adding a layer of shade and a musty smell to the sunny fall day. Thin tendrils of spiderweb brushed across my face until I picked up a stick and held it out in front of me like an Olympic torch, slicing through the silk threads that shone like gold in the dappled patches of sun when they fell aside.
I didn’t expect a false summit on a one-mile hike, but at the top of the long hill the trail merged with an old weedy logging road and twisted sharply east, escaping the insulating trees to frame an amazing view. The trail continued bumping upward, riding the ridge of Backbone Mountain for a few steps to the end point at Hoye Crest, a peaceful clearing overlooking two states, and I shared the view with birds twittering in the ancient trees and a pair of fat fuzzy caterpillars exploring mountains of their own in the rocky spine underfoot.
About the beer:
A sweet porter sounded good on this crisp morning, but aside from the cutesy name, DuClaw’s Sweet Baby Jesus chocolate peanut butter porter just didn’t work for me at all. Maybe I got a bad bottle, but puzzlingly it didn’t taste like chocolate, nor peanutbutter, nor even porter; it smells like a scratch-n-sniff sticker and tastes chalky-sweet like off-brand Easter candy, but even that was overpowered by a strong metallic aftertaste that stayed with me all the way back down to West Virginia.