Stevens Trail, Colfax, California
On October 18, 2013, Norma and I did an 8 mile hike on the Stevens Trail in Colfax, California.
From July 29 to August 4, 2013, Norma and I spent the week kayaking, hiking, and exploring upstate New York.
After a little kayaking with Norma and Carmen on the upper Tuckahoe that morning (see June 15, 2013 - kayaking), we drove 2 miles to explore Adkins Arboretum. I had been here once before but only during the winter when there wasn't much to see.
We stopped in at the visitor center. After awhile, I went outside where I waited for Norma and Carmen. I found a five-lined skink amongst the rain barrels for sale. The rain barrels were for sale, not the skink. See first photo.
We started by heading north on the Upland Walk. We crossed every bridge over Blockston Branch, a fresh creek with tannic acid. The place was as scenic as the upper Tuckahoe which says a lot.
One fallen tree was decorated with moraine sweet gum seed balls. It was deemed an art piece and titled Gumball Crossing. See second photo.
We saw numerous ferns, skunk cabbages, and mayapples (third photo).
Mayapple is a woodland wildflower that emerges in early spring. Classified as a "spring ephermeral," it appears for only a short time. Dormant during summer, its umbrella-shaped leaves remain hidden from view.
- from sign on trail
Team SNaCk walked to the southwest side of the arboretum where we saw their native plant nursery and goat herd. As far as I could tell, the herd only consisted of 2 goats though there might have been more in hiding. They were not eager to come see us.
We had a good time at the arboretum and will surely return, either with bicycles, small children, or old people. This is too nice of a place to keep to ourselves.
I don't know how far we walked but I'm guessing it was about 2 miles or less.
The Saturday afternoon traffic back to the western shore was light and easy. We stopped at Holly's Restaurant for dinner and homemade ice cream. Their prices are pretty good. I'll have to remember this place on return trips from the eastern shore.
Click thumbnails to enlarge.
Cedarville State Forest
I didn't do much hiking in 2013, at least not the first half. I've been doing more work on other things and quite frankly, hiking is just a lower priority for me now. But another reason is that my doctor tells me I have plantar fasciitis. So I am spending less time walking and running...at least until I have this under control. But that doesn't mean I am no longer hiking...I'm just doing less and when I do hike, I am doing shorter routes.
A couple years ago, I saw the Mid-Atlantic Hiking Group Cedarville State Forest hike announcement. I was eager to sign up for it but it was winter and looking at the photos on the web page, I knew that what I would actually see on the hike was not what appeared in the announcement...at least not for a few months. So I put it on my "to do" list.
On June 9, 2013, I decided to check out Cedarville State Forest with Norma and find these wild carnivorous plants.
I had actually been here before on February 27, 2010 but back then there was snow on the ground so of course things would look much different now.
We loaded up our bikes to cover more ground then drove out for a day of exploration and adventure.
But before commencing our hike, we made a quick stop at Savage Park, right in our town. We went to see a marker that I had heard about the previous week from a state employee. Neither of us had actually seen the marker prior to this date. See first photo.
The "centroid" marks the imaginary point from which the same number of Marylanders live north, south, east and west. In more visual terms, a flat rigid map of Maryland, holding equal weights for each resident, would balance at Savage - or nearby.
- from The Baltimore Sun - Savage gets plaque as symbolic center of Maryland's population
At Cedarville State Forest, we found that nobody manned the visitor center. Nothing was posted to inform us about the location of the carnivorous plants but I figured they would be there since the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) map stated
A unique feature of the forest is the Cedarville Bog, which is within the headwaters of the Zekiah Swamp. The bog supports a unique array of plants, such as sphagnum moss and rough boneset that favor very wet, acidic conditions. Please remain on the specially constructed boardwalk, which protects this sensitive bog, and refrain from collecting any of the plants your observe.
Of special interest in this bog are several species of insect-eating plants, including the roundleaf sundew and the northern pitcher plant. Throughout the summer, spy the leaves of these carnivorous plants, which attract insects with their reddish color and entrap them with sticky or bristly hairs.
So at least I had something to go on. I was looking for the Cedarville Bog in the Zekiah Swamp. In particular, I was seeking a boardwalk. None of this appeared on my DNR map.
I figured the best place to start was the area around Cedarville Pond. This is near Zekiah Swamp Run so it makes sense that Zekiah Swamp would be here too.
I unloaded the bikes and we rode east on Bee Oak Road then south on Forest Road to the pond. It turns out we could have just drove there since Forest Road, while not paved, was well maintained and open. Additionally, there was a parking lot at the pond. But we were perfectly fine with biking on the tree-lined roads.
I locked up the bikes and we prepared to walk. But before we got started, Norma found what we believe to be a Fowlers toad that had recently made the transition from polliwog to toad. See second photo for the toad and the biggest dime in the world. We found several all on the east side of the parking lot. Additionally, Norma spotted a quick glimpse of a snake. I saw its tail. My guess it was a northern water snake.
Norma and I walked counterclockwide on the Green and Brown Trails which circumnavigate the pond.
Having seen several toads and a snake even before starting our hike, I felt we were sure to see lots of wildlife. Sadly, we did not. Nor did we find any carnivorous plants. But I did find an interesting plant with several light green, flat objects having the feel and weight of taffy. I'm guessing it was a fruit. See third photo. We also saw some honeysuckle.
Back at the pond (fourth photo), I saw spatterdock flowers and a few (not many) turtles. We ate lunch at a bench where we spied on a large bullfrog. See fifth photo.
On the northeast side of the pond was a small boardwalk but no carnivorous plants nearby.
We biked to the Blue Trail which connects to Zekiah Swamp Run. Surely, if there was a bog that we hadn't yet found, it would be here, along the run. But this was not the case either. We walked along the very scenic run but saw no carnivorous plants. See sixth and seventh photos.
About 17 miles downstream from this location is the Zekiah Swamp Natural Environmental Area which I kayaked into on July 6, 2008.
We decided to take a different route back so we biked on Mistletoe Road and Service Road heading north. Then we hopped back on Forest Road for a short distance and caught Sunset Road heading west. I expected Mistletoe Road to be like Forest Road in that it would be used by the park service as a vehicle road. But this road was heavily overgrown with a few tree limbs blocking the path. Clearly, it had not been used for awhile. If biking on this road, I highly recommend wearing a helmet.
We stopped at a pond just off Sunset Road. I'm guessing the area was much more bog-like at one time. But the road over the pond was created by bringing in lots of gravel which was probably also used to give the wetlands more defined borders. The water was black from tannic acid.
A big dragonfly landed on my head. Norma took a picture (eighth photo) which I included on my June 12, 2013 testimonial to the the Howard County Council about preserving 5 acres of land near the Little Patuxent River where the rare Applachian Snaketail dragonfly was found in high concentrations. See Opposition to Savage Mill Remaining development.
At the west end of the park was the fish hatchery which we were looking forward to seeing. But it was closed to the public. So we biked north on Hidden Springs Road to the Hatchery Visitor Center but found this also to be closed to the public.
It was humid. But that would make our air conditioned house cooled by our less than one year old geothermal heat pump all the more comfortable.
Back at the park visitor center, we saw a state employee washing her truck. We asked about the carnivorous plants and she said they don't tell the public where they are because people steal them. I showed her my map and how it claims there is a boardwalk over the bog where they reside. She was unaware of this. My map is old but I was surprised and disappointed that these carnivorous plants which attract visitors are kept hidden. I also asked about the fish hatchery and she said that it closed to the public due to a lack of funding, even though their posted literature indicates otherwise.
We biked a total of only 5.7 miles and walked about 3.75 miles.
Throughout the day at the park, Norma picked off about 30 ticks. I had 2 on me. I wore long pants with DEET sprayed on them and me. She wore 3/4 length pants and had no DEET...just a few squirts of some more natural and less harsh spray. I think she picked up most of the ticks on the overgrown Mistletoe Road.
Our next stop was Breezy Point Park in Calvert County. We had first heard about this place on our August 31 to September 3, 2012 trip to the Westmoreland State Park area of Virginia. Westmoreland is known for having lots of fossils, including shark's teeth. One of the fossil-hunters we met there told us that Breezy Point Park also has lots of fossils. See Sharks Teeth at Breezy Point. So I included it on my list of places to visit. But as we pulled up to the gate, we were both disappointed. It cost $10 per person just to enter and it looked like the place was packed with beach-goers. It didn't look like the kind of place we would like and we certainly didn't feel like paying $20 just to get in so we left. Maybe we'll return in the winter when we can have the place to ourselves.
A turtle was trying to cross the road. As cars raced by, it went into its shell where it remained in the middle of the lane. I pulled over and moved it into a fenced area with lots of plants and water. I expect it will have a hard time getting through the fence and back onto the road. See ninth photo.
Plum Point was another location we heard about where there were lots of fossils. We tried to get there via Plum Point Road (route 263) but that just came to a fence at a dead end. The Chesapeake Bay was on the other side of the fence. I'm guessing the best way to get there is to launch a kayak at Breezy Point Marina than paddle a quarter mile south along the Bay.
After an ice cream break, we drove to Annapolis and stopped in at Eastern Mountain Sports in Annapolis. Following this and some other shopping, we had a nice dinner at Paladar Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar. They are a little expensive but if you are there during their happy hour, you can take advantage of some great specials.
We didn't find carnivorous plants or fossils and we didn't see the fish hatchery. But it still turned out to be a good day.
Click thumbnails to enlarge.