Saturday Stroll at Little Orleans

A stunning morning for a walk down along the Potomac River near Little Orleans, Maryland. This was a chilly morning and I almost talked myself out of a walk before I even finished my cup of coffee. Then I saw a friend’s post about how excited they were to be headed out to see the bluebells…well, that encouraged me to get up and get out!

My route around the horn this morning…about 5 miles.

This is a nice 5-mile loop…well, it’s not exactly a loop. That shape requires a more descriptive name…..hmmm, how about Pelican Bill loop? or Butterfly Catcher loop? 🙂

I pulled into the Western Maryland Rail Trail lot across from the Little Orleans camp store at about 8:30 am. Not a soul around except folks in the campground. Nice! I started down the smooth paved rail trail towards the canal. It was surprising that no bikes were out this morning. Oh well, better for me! The rail trail curved to the right and through a small tunnel before ending, rather abruptly, at the beginning of an old trestle that spanned the river. Okay…how do I get down to the canal??? Backtracked to the road crossing, which was the most likely suspect, and looked downhill. A PATC sign greeted me…so I went that way. 😀

That was a good guess and after a small, but muddy, stream crossing I was on the canal path! Lovely stretch of the canal!

I am not a huge fan of walking for a long time on the canal path as it is hard on my feet. Today, was no exception in that regard, BUT there was enough Springtime popping action around me that I was distracted by the absolute beauty of it all!

The redbuds were every where! You can see one in the pic from the little tunnel above. I passed many along my route. They really lit up the forest!

Oh, and then the big hit…Bluebells! I wait for them every spring, calculating when and where to go to see them. They seemed to be at peak bloom! I was over the moon to see them in bunches lining the canal and carpeting the river bank! One of my favorites!

A Bluebell jamboree!

Skirting around the horn of this hike, I passed the 15-Mile Creek Campground. This is a decent sized campground and right on the river. Spring and Fall are probably the best time for camping here. I imagine the bugs in the summer would be pretty unbearable! But hey, if you like the summer river life, go for it! 🙂 There is a boat ramp and with the towpath and rail trail it gives everyone something to enjoy!

I headed down the canal towards the old Indigo train tunnel. As I approached the opening a rush of cool air gave me the chills. I had momentary vision of a scene from one of the Harry Potter movies when Harry’s cousin, Dudley, is attacked by the Dementors in a tunnel near their house. 😀 😀 Okay, maybe not quite that dramatic! 😀 The tunnel is closed off, but it is still a neat side trip to look through the bars towards the light at the end of the tunnel!

And without any discussion on this…I am closing out this post with a cheesy t-shirt slogan…”The light at the end of the tunnel may be an oncoming train!” 😀 Hike on!

Neighborhood Greenspace Jackpot

I must have won some kind of karma lottery because I have hit the jackpot of all neighborhoods! This little neighborhood gave me all the feels when I first drove into it with its mid-mod ranch and split levels. Brady bunch much? Literally, I was in love! I gazed out my car window at the azaleas, mountain laurel, and TREES with such longing that I knew this was it for me.

I have started to explore the neighborhood on foot now that I have depleted my savings by buying a livable ranch fixer built in 1962. And let me tell you…every neighborhood deserves greenspace like this. Every single person deserves to be able to walk out their door and into the woods.

We started the walk right behind my house and followed a well worn path up to the old water tower. Then we cut down to Sunset Drive, hung a right, and walked to the dead end, where the pavement ends and the adventure begins! Interestingly, this trail is on AllTrails…I guess you would have to park at either Bishop Walsh School or maybe Allegany High School to access the trail. Allegany HS is pretty new and was built on the grounds of the old Sacred Heart Hospital. This neighborhood was where many of the doctors that worked at the hospital lived back in the day. I believe the old hospital closed in 2009.

Looking back at the gate we passed through at the end of Sunset.

Moving on past the gate, we followed a dirt road to the very end of the Haystack Mountain ridge. This took us up to the western side of The Narrows, a deep gorge in Cumberland through which old highway 40, the train tracks, and Will’s Creek traverses.

Looking towards Corriganville, Maryland and Pennsylvania
Looking towards “Lover’s Leap” across the Cumberland Narrows

This is a lovely neighborhood! It is sad that at the moment I am tied to my computer by work and cannot take this walk every day! But the end of the semester is near!! Hike On!

Hiking Haiku Monday

In the spirit of writing bad poetry, I give you my Hiking Haiku…and this may become a regular Monday thing while we are under “stay at home” orders due to COVID-19.  I urge you to also write bad poetry and a hoky haiku or two!  Hike on!

Step gently into

Trees, Sky, Grass, a winding path 

Up the hill, come with!

20200427_145317.jpg

A Little Walk Here, A Little Walk There

I live in a wonderful place with a lot of close by opportunities to get out for a short walk now and then.  I am not pushing my COVID-19 boundaries…rather not get into trouble with the Hoganmeister…Governor Hogan…or get anyone sick or get sick myself.

20200321_083320.jpg

Spring awakes

20200321_090718.jpg

Social Distancing

20200321_092030.jpg

All alone at Chimney Rocks

However, I know how to pick place and time for solitude on the trail.  That is one of the benefits to being a regular hiker, I know where the secret places are and/or the times when everyone else stays home.

20200326_111410.jpg

Only one in the Gorge at Rocky Gap

20200326_121406.jpg

Solo lunch by the Lake

Occasionally, I have taken Sidekick Pauli and she is loving it!  She is going to be 13 on May 10, is covered with lumps, and is graying around her muzzle, but she still enjoys a mile or so on a trail. 🙂  Especially when wildflowers are beginning to bloom!  We took this micro jaunt along the C&O Canal in western Maryland…not a soul in sight.

I am fortunate to have outdoor resources so near to my house.  I can get there and back without stopping for gas, to go to the bathroom, or anything else.  Added benefit is that I am reconnecting with solo hiking.  I definitely miss hiking with my Trail Dames right now, but once this is all over, we will hike again.

In between the outdoor jaunts I am on lock down with almost everyone else.  I am a teacher and the show must go on…but it has not been an easy transition to online instruction for me or my college students.  I am sure it has been an interesting transition for you as well.

If you are a healthcare worker, a bus driver, a grocery store employee, or any other occupation deemed essential…I salute and thank you.  You all are getting all the rest of us though this pandemic and your sacrifice is immeasurable.

Be safe and Hike on responsibly!

Trail on Tuesday!

Election Day for many, not here in my immediate area…but still a day off for me.  So I hooked up Sidekick Pauli with her leash, harness, and coat (35 degrees, brrr) and hit a trail down at Monocacy Battlefield!

Sidekick Pauli was elated!  She is now 12 years old and prefers hikes of under two miles so this was a perfect match.  We pulled into Worthington Farm, part of the battlefield, just after sunrise.  The colors on the trees, now past peak, cast a muted, dusty glow over the battlefield.  A low fog had risen before we arrived, but the dew was still heavy in the grassy areas, so I chose to head down the long driveway that splits the fields.

20191105_091903.jpg

Sidekick Pauli wanted to pull me off into the wet grass at every turn and judged me somewhat harshly for taking the path of least resistance.  Just look at her face…haha 😀

20191105_073840.jpg

Ohhhh, it was chilly…my ears and fingers were tingling.  I sped up to match Pauli’s pace and quickly warmed up.  Nothing like having a dog along to keep you moving.  Patience is not one of Pauli’s better qualities, so when I slowed down to look at a pretty leaf, and then the fungi, and then more pretty leaves, and then the river, and then at the sky…and then…and then…well, she wasn’t particularly pleased!

 

20191105_090835.jpg

20191105_090913.jpgI could not be hurried.  I breathed in the crisp air, reveling in the woody scent of Autumn.  The sun splashed warmth across the fields,  and I stood quietly and soaked it up (Pauli also enjoyed this).

20191105_091001.jpg

One of THOSE mornings when time sort of stops, when nothing else matters, and the world just seems okay.

Hike On!

Bean Blossom Bottoms

I cannot believe that, in the past, someone actually tried to drain this marsh to use the area for farming. Lucky for us and for the wildlife, the land was donated to the Sycamore Land Trust. Bean Blossom Bottoms is now a protected marsh land home to many, including the rare Kirtland’s Snake.My son recommended we visit, so after a lovely lunch, we headed down.The Land Trust has completed repairing/replacing the boardwalk through the march. 2.5 miles of boardwalk!The number of water snakes we saw was impressive! We also saw tadpoles, wildflowers, and a baby bunny.I am sure crawdads call this place home by the looks of these mud towers. Or, do you think it could be something else?If you are in the Bloomington, Indiana area, then I recommend a visit. A marshy adventure…plus, you have to drive gravel roads to get here…a delight! Hike on!

Avoca Ambling at the old State Fish Hatchery

Walking down an old road in the lull of the afternoon.

Squinting and, oh boy, it’s kinda hot.

A rushing stream blue-gray with lime now disturbed by my thirsty dog.

Birds quarreling with noisy abandon…watch out! One just whizzed by my head!

Murky ponds reclaimed by cattails, clover, and wildflowers.

All under an Indiana summer sky.

Hike on!

Got 30 Minutes To Spare?

Bolivar Heights is a wonderful short trail to stretch your legs. Especially, if you are waiting for Harper’s Ferry only Vegan restaurant, Kelley Farm Kitchen, to open!

We took the loop starting on the ridge, then circling down to the battlefield, then back up. About a mile, perfect to while away a half hour.

The trail is gentle with the bonus of great views! We spooked a herd of deer on our way across the ridge.

And a spectacular sunrise greeted us as we climbed back up to the ridge.

Now at the top, my stomach reminded me that I had not eaten breakfast…time for lunch!

A BBQ Jackfruit sandwich with a side of mac & cheese, yassss! Hike on!

Morn of Thanksgiving

Thank you farm for welcoming me back.

Thank you sun, I see you peaking through the trees.

Thank you trees, with your long, morning shadows that cut across my path.

IMG_20181122_100038.jpg

Thank you frost for giving me diamonds.

Thank you birds for singing me home.

Thank you sky for holding me so gently in your space.

Thank you air, so crisp as I take you in and warm you.

IMG_20181122_102323.jpg

Thank you rocks for sparkling and meadow grasses, with long icy tendrils, reaching out to caress me as I pass.

IMG_20181122_100019.jpg

Thank you brown hard ground waiting for sun’s magic touch that will turn you to squishy mud once more.

IMG_20181122_095846.jpg

Thank you deer for greeting me at what will be the sacred resting spot for my Dad’s ashes.

Thank you Daddy for showing me how to appreciate Mother Earth with all her gifts.

I know you can now go anywhere, but this is a nice spot to rest awhile.

See you on my next walk. Hike on.

Kentuck Trail & The Promise of Fall

The promise of Fall! Crisp air with a chilly bite that leaves goose bumps running up your spine and down your arms.  A bright blue sky framing the yellows, reds, and oranges popping forth on the end of branches hanging with the weight of summer gone on too long. That cool, mulchy, smokey scent in the air.  The harvest season, the pies, the pumpkins, the magic! Oh, Fall, don’t make me wait much longer!

I am waiting, somewhat impatiently, for sweater weather.  Despite the humidity, the constant rain, low hanging gray clouds, Sidekick Pauli and I could take no more inside time broken up with quick strolls around the block.  Today, we were on our way west to Ohiopyle State Park to scout a trail for an upcoming Trail Dame camp out.

I questioned my decision to head out in the entrails of Hurricane Florence as I drove through heavy fog and pelting rain crossing the mountains near Frostburg, Maryland.  After coming down a couple hundred feet, though, my path was affirmed by a Bald Eagle swooping down to the shoulder of the highway! What a beauty! (and yes, I do believe in signs given to me by nature…so on I went)

Ohiopyle was crowded, of course, but I was headed up a bit to the Tharp Knob Picnic Area.  I found only one other car in the parking lot…and bathrooms… 🙂  See, it was meant to be! 😀 😀 😀

The plan was a short hike to the campground and back.  Long enough to stretch my legs, short enough for Sidekick Pauli, who has some limitations to consider…back issues, and so on.  This hike took us up to the overlook first, where we sat on a bench enjoying the breeze coming up from the gorge.  From the overlook, I could see the town of Ohiopyle hugging the Youghiogheny River (pronounced Yawkigainy…here is audio!).

IMG_20180915_122944_146.jpg

The whole scene…town, river, and even a train…made things feel right with the world. 🙂  After a few minutes, Sidekick Pauli wanted more, so we headed down the Kentuck Trail to the campground.  My shoes sunk into the soft, water-laden, trail as I requested Pauli to wait while I picked my way down the first hill.  There were three blow downs to cross over, around, or through…which meant three more on the way back! 😉

IMG_20180915_202654.jpg

Headed for a Blowdown

IMG_20180915_202450.jpg

Moss & Leaves…ahhhh! Breathe it in!

Sidekick Pauli did not have any trouble with her back today and she looked like a puppy as she clambered up and over one particular blow down!

Soggy August, and now September, left a lovely variety of fungi along the trail.  I took the time to look carefully and appreciate each small thing in the forest as I walked.  Being here, in the woods, with my dog, as the seasons change…this is a blessing! Hike on!