We just had our first measurable snow in a couple years, yesterday and today. Maybe about 4-6 inches total. Schools were closed. Took a nice little hike in the neighborhood woods...
|Juvenile bald eagle
|Took a picture of this bald eagle. Didn't realize until I got home, that a baby chick is in there too.
|These white flowers were everywhere
|Camping in Brunswick
During spring break in the beginning of April, I went on a 3 day, 2 night back/pack trip along the C&O Canal. The weather was perfect, the forest was just coming back to life with an abundance of wildflowers, birds, amphibians, and animals. Here are a few pictures from the trip...
|My brother and nephew at Gathland State Park, MD
|My nephew collecting water at the spring near the shelter
|large afternoon gathering at the shelter
|we found a nice quiet camp along the ridge
|footbridge into Harpers Ferry
My brother contacted me and told me that my nephew was interested in some backpacking on the AT. We chose a 10 mile section of trail: Gathland State Park to Harpers Ferry. It was a perfect section to introduce my nephew into the backpacking lifestyle. I met my brother and nephew at the Harpers Ferry Visitors Center lot at 9:00am last Saturday. There was a 20 dollar entrance fee. After filling out a permit to leave my car overnight at the lot, my brother, nephew and I drove my brother's car to Gathland State Park and parked his car there, no fee. After packing up our backpacks, we hit the Appalachian Trail at 10:00 am. Our goal was to hike about five miles and camp, then do five miles on Sunday and call it good.
It felt great to be back on the trail. We took our time, temps rose into the 60's, gray and overcast. After lunch we came upon the shelter. There was a large group gathered there for a cookout. Our goal was to get some water and hike another mile or so and camp on the ridge. The water was about .4 miles down off the mountain. By 3:00, we were ready to find a place to camp.We found a nice semi flat area off the trail and set up our tents and made a little fire. After eating dinner, it was already getting dark shortly after 5:00. We managed to stay up until about 7:00 before heading to our tents for the night. Minutes after getting into our tents the wind began to pick up. It was literally old man winter bearing down on the mountains. Temperatures plummeted. The forest was absolutely howling in the middle of the night as a cold front was passing though, I can't recall ever hearing it roar like that before.
When we woke up in the morning, it was hat/glove/down coat weather. Wind was blowing most of the day Sunday and temperatures stayed in the 40's. After breaking down camp, we hiked down the ridge to Weaverton Cliffs where we enjoyed a nice view. Then we hiked off the mountain to the C&O Canal and hiked a leisurely 3 flat miles to Harpers Ferry. There we picked up a shuttle bus right as we arrived in town which drove us back to the Visitors Center and my car. There we drove back to my brother's car at Gathland State Park. Everything went off without a hitch...
Man, it's been too long since I posted last. Truth of the matter is, I haven't been out and about hiking and exploring much at all this year. The hiking I have been doing has been very localized and usually a weekend morning just to get a little exercise. I'm definitely in a lull at the moment, but also realize that it's just a different chapter, and things can change.
Speaking of change, it's been a wonderful fall this year. Colors were dampened at first and then suddenly took off. We had a couple days the last two weeks that were among the finest I have ever experienced in Maryland. One occurred when leaves were at their peak. A weather system brought in the cleanest, crystal blue skies I have ever seen around here, and it happened on a weekend. It was God's gift to outdoor lovers in Maryland and I think most of us took advantage of it. I took a forest walk that was among the nicest I have taken in some time.
At the moment, trees are shedding leaves fast. Day light savings time is over, and early dark nights will once again be upon us. Cold air will return and we will retreat to our warm, cozy places.
Today I was on my way to the local REI to pick up some fuel for a 10-day, bike/camp trip I hope to begin tomorrow. I glanced to my right to catch a glimpse of the Linden Oak, while driving up Wisconsin Avenue. I was saddened to see the Linden Oak has died. It was thought to be 300 years old and Maryland's second oldest tree. It must have died over the winter. I wrote a post about it in 2016, when I revisited it to get some tree measurements.
|Breakfast at Brunswick Family Campground
|Point of Rocks
|Maryland's Largest Tree
I slept pretty well all things considered. It became chilly and a little frosty overnight with a lot of condensation on my tent. I took my time waking and getting up. I slowly packed up my gear and took some time to dry out my tent. It was a cool, crisp, but crystal clear sunny morning. I made some coffee, recharged my batteries in the campground pavilion. I was still feeling high from the first warm days of spring and waking up from the winter slumber. Colors were vivid, wildflowers everywhere, leaves just budding on trees. The Potomac River looked cold and refreshing. Trains moved down the tracks. My bike was in good working order. After packing up and hitting the canal, I found myself saying to no one in particular "I love this!"
I had 35 miles to ride back to my car. From Brunswick to around mile 20. I noticed some discomfort in my left knee again after a few miles which I wasn't thrilled about. I stopped for lunch at the Monacacy Aqueduct and scored a picnic table all to myself nearby. I drank in the cool shade and the vivid greens and blues all around me. Downed an Ibuprofen for my knee. After lunch, I stopped by and paid a visit to Maryland's Largest Tree, about a mile detour. I hid my bike in the forest and hiked to the tree. A stiff headwind picked up in the afternoon, but the miles were ticking off easily enough. My knee felt no worse than before. I bought another Gatorade and chips at White's Ferry. Later met a guy with a backpack hiking north on the towpath. I asked him how far he was heading. He said he was walking all the way to San Francisco and had been on the trail for two weeks! As I approached mile 20 and the end of my trip, I slowed down considerably and just soaked in the perfect weather and ease of the bike. Before long, I was back to my car and had successfully completed my first bike/camping trip.