Sugarloaf Mountain loop

Bands of showers, clouds, and a little sunshine passed over us on Sugarloaf Mountain, on an ANS hike led by Cathy Stragar. Birding on the trail was slow—shreds of mixed winter songbird flocks, a few winter woodpeckers—although a Common Raven (Corvus corax) did oblige by flying overhead and vocalizing. But generally we were able to enjoy the quiet, punctuated from time to time by the patter of some light rain.

Tree life on the mountain is dominated by Chestnut Oak (Quercus montana); there are numerous stands of Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) filling in the understory. I found a couple sprigs of Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata), and Cathy pointed out the first spikes of Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) emerging from a wet spot.

Cathy set a fairly brisk pace, so we covered the five and half miles of the blue loop trail plus side trip to the summit in 5:15.

hazy viewThis view to the west from the summit is a perspective maintainer, with the gentle curve of the Potomac River offset by the stacks of the coal-fired generating station at Dickerson. Wii juice has gotta come from somewhere.

markerAfter I snapped the landscape, I found one of the survey monuments for the peak at my feet. (Here’s a shinier image of what they look like.)