Hummingbird at farm feeder, August 10, 2006


Garrett County
August 2006

Last updated August 13, 2006



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Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four | Day Five

I've been living in Maryland since 1995. I've probably seen more of it (at least from a hiking perspective) than most natives. But one place I had yet to see prior to August 2006 is Garrett County. This was my chance to go there and see the small towns, countryside, and hiking trails.

Day One: Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Norma and I left in the mid-afternoon. We took a very circuitous and scenic route along route 50. We passed through the quaint town of Berkeley Springs on our way to Garrett County where we would spend some time at her parents' farm.

First, we went to her sister and brother-in-law's house in West Virginia. I met Norma's youngest sister, Laah, and her husband, Scott. I saw some of the goats they were raising. I also met Norma's mother, Hazel. We ate a nice, home-cooked venison dinner.

The country life is quite a bit different than what I'm used to. Western Maryland is cooler than the Baltimore area and there are fewer mosquitos (though they still exist). The air is a little cleaner and the people are friendlier than what I'm used to.

During dinner, I was surprised when Laah looked at some of the Amish-made butter she purchased and tried to guess the type of cow that produced the milk which was used to make it. Not exactly the type of conversation I'd hear in the big city.

We took Norma's mother back to the family farm in Garrett County then turned in for the night.

Day Two: Thursday, August 10, 2006

In the morning, Norma and I rounded up and fed the cows (see first photo at left) then retrieved eggs that the chickens (see second photo at left) laid the previous evening. Walking around on the farm, we saw an unusual fungus growing out of a fallen tree (see third photo on left).

There were numerous hummingbirds flying about (see photo at very top left corner of page).

Norma took me to visit her father, Willard, at a nursing home.

Later that day, we checked in at a campground at Swallow Falls State Park. We hiked on the Falls Trail along the Youghiogheny River.

We passed the Upper Swallow Falls, the Lower Swallow Falls, and Muddy Creek Falls (see fourth photo at left). Muddy Creek Falls measures 52 feet high, making it the highest falls in Maryland. According to the Maryland Historical Society, in August 1918 and again in July 1921, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, and John Burroughs camped at Muddy Creek Falls.

The trail passes through Youghiogheny Grove, a 37 acre area of virgin hemlock and white pine with trees estimated to be at least 300 years old and the last stand of its kind in Maryland. Though the trail was short, it was quite scenic. Several parts of of it were bordered by rocky walls (see fifth photo at left).

We climbed one rock that overlooks both the Youghiogheny River and Muddy Creek. Cranesville Swamp, composed of brackish water, is the source of Muddy Creek. See the sixth photo at left where Norma ponders deep thoughts atop this rock.

That night we ate dinner at Uno's, overlooking Deep Creek Lake.
Click thumbnails to enlarge.

Day Three: Friday, August 11, 2006

In the morning, we re-visited Muddy Creek Falls but this time we saw it from a totally different angle...inside. We swam and waded at the base of the falls then walked underneathe it. Here we were able to stand under a rock and see the world from behind the falls.

Norma led me on some trails in Cathedral State Park, a registered natural landmark, in West Virginia. This area is known for its large hemlock trees, some being 90 feet tall and 27 feet in circumference.

Next, we drove through the town of Silver Lake, West Virginia, where we saw the smallest church and smallest mailing office in 48 states (see first and second photos on left).

We hiked up to the highest point in Maryland (see third photo on left). This area, called Hoye Crest lies on Backbone Mountain and is 3360 feet above sea level. It is named for Captain Charles E. Hoye, the founder of the Garrett County Historical Society. It is a little hard to find. Just a small white sign placed a little too high can be seen driving downhill on route 219 between Silver Lake and Thomas in West Virginia. The sign marks a dirt road that leads to the point which is only about a 25 minute walk from the paved road.

Just off route 219 in West Virginia, not far from Hoye Crest, we saw well over a dozen wind turbines (see fourth photo on left). Each bore the name FPL Energy.

The next stop was Fairfax Stone Historical Monument State Park in West Virginia. This is the headspring of the mighty Potomac River. The Fairfax Stone is named after Thomas Lord Fairfax who owned all the land lying between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers. This stone is the base point for the western dividing line between Maryland and West Virignia.
Click thumbnails to enlarge.

Day Four: Saturday August 12, 2006

Today was a work day on the farm. Norma's middle sister, Joyce, and her husband, Jimmy, came out to help. We took out a 40 foot section of fence and put in a new fence. We collected hay from the field and created about 150 bales, which were loaded in the barn (see photo on left).

Hazel prepared a delicious meal for her hard working farm hands that evening.

The Perseid Meteor Shower took place that night. While the clean, crisp Garrett County air, low humidity, and separation from the city lights was great, the nearly full moon made for less than ideal viewing conditions. Norma saw two meteors in a very short period of time but I was much too exhausted to care.
Click thumbnail to enlarge.

Day Five: Sunday, August 13, 2006

Norma picked corn and gathered eggs. We both dug up potatoes.

On the long drive home, we stopped to see the Savage River. We had more to see but just not enough time to see it all. Perhaps we'll check out the river more closely some other time...maybe even a tubing trip!

Most people spend their vacation on the beach, in the mountains, or off in some far away exotic land. I got to spend my time developing an appreciation for a much different way of life and seeing a totally different side of Maryland.