Rapids at McKeldin Area of Patapsco State Park, September 8, 2018


Hiking Adventures 2018

Last updated December 26, 2018


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Swallow Falls
Norma thinks Swallow Falls State Park is the most beautiful place in Maryland. I might have to agree. This was at least my sixth time there. Norma has been visiting this area since she was a child. But December 23, 2018 was Daphne's first trip.

According to Wikipedia,
The park is notable for its stand of old hemlock trees, some more than 300 years old, "the last stand of its kind in Maryland."

The three of us arrived the day prior. There was a good bit of snow in Garrett County but little or none in all the other Maryland counties. This area has the highest elevation in the state and is thus the coldest, so winter usually brings plenty of snow. Fortunately, the roads were clear of ice. It was warming up and the sun was starting to melt the snow which fed Tolliver Run (sometimes spelled "Toliver"). See first photo.

Just downstream, Daphne and I posed for a photo at Tolliver Falls (second photo).

We saw a couple other dogs and a fair number of people. But we were able to let Daphne run off-leash most of the time. She's got pretty good sense in terms of what areas are safe and what are not. There was some ice on the ground at the Upper Swallow Falls overlook (third photo). In the summer, this is a popular swimming area. Behind us is the Youghiogheny River.

The park is well maintained and the trails are easy to follow. The place gets a lot of use so the staff do their best to make sure things are easily accessible and safe. See fourth photo.

This area has some very interesting rocks from the Conemaugh formation ( fifth photo).
The Conemaugh contains claystones, siltstones, shales, sandstones and several coal beds and contains fossils. These rocks date to the Pennsylvanian Period and are about 300 million years old.
- from Maryland Geological Survey - Swallow Falls, Garrett County

Near the end of the hike is the magnificent Muddy Creek Falls. See sixth photo.
This waterfall is the result of Muddy Creek falling into the gorge carved out by the Youghiogheny River. The height of the falls is 53 feet, making it the highest waterfall in Maryland according to some. Cunningham Falls, also located in Maryland, is over 70 feet high but does not fall in a single drop.
- from Go Waterfalling - Muddy Creek Falls

The next few days had some light refreshing of snow, ensuring we had a nice white Christmas, but still a safe drive home...the best of both worlds.
Click thumbnails to enlarge.

On December 19, 2018, I left work a little early to get out and enjoy some sunny weather with Norma and Daphne at the Hilton Area of Patapsco Valley State Park.

This looks like a great area to get kids interested in hiking because there is stuff to see nearby such as a nature center, an "All Sensory Trail" for blind kids, campgrounds, cabins, and a big playground.

The three of us started walking west on the Santee Branch trail. Where the Santee Branch and Sawmill Branch trails meet, we saw several trees decorated for Christmas. See first photo.

I tried to make this a lollipop hike but we could not find where the Forest Glen trail meets the Sawmill Branch trail. So we did our second crossing of Sawmill Branch (second photo) and then bushwhacked our way up the clearing under the power lines until we picked up the Santee Branch. We walked for a bit on Pigs Run which was partially closed.

After our 3.2 mile walk, we explored the kid-friendly section (third photo).

I expect this place could get pretty busy on the weekend when the weather is nice. But today, there were so few people, we were comfortable letting Daphne off-leash.
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Daniels Ghost Town
On December 8, 2018, Norma, Daphne, Sara, Cassi, and I walked an easy 4.5 miles in Patapsco Valley State Park between Alberton Rocks and Daniels Dam. The dogs probably walked/ran twice that distance. Starting from Alberton, we headed west on the old Alberton Road, passing about two dozen Cub Scouts and their leaders but then seeing nobody for over two hours! We saw the majestic Alligator Rock and then saw a lot of ghost town ruins.
Daniels, Maryland has gone through three different names in 109 years due to the popularity of the mill. It was originally known as Elysville in 1829, then Alberton in 1839, and then finally Daniels in 1938.
- from The Urban Historians - Daniels, Maryland

It was a fairly sunny day with light wind. The air was cold but we were dressed for it and quite comfortable. This time of year can be very depressing with the short days and cold weather. Having dogs forces us to get outside for them. But in the end, we benefit just as much.

Like the town where we live, Savage, this area has its origins in a cotton mill.
The original settlement that would become the town of Daniels formed in 1810 when the family of Thomas Ely came to the area and built a textile mill.
- from Wikipedia - Daniels, Maryland

This mill had 228 looms and seventy company buildings which were built on 820 acres of land around the factory. There were 118 homes, two churches [which we would see], and a general store. Like the Savage Mill, supplies were transported by the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad. Perhaps the main reason why Daniels never became the town that Savage is today is because of Hurricane Agnes, which flooded the area in 1972. In 1973, Daniels Mill was added to the National Register of Historic Places, two years before the Savage Mill.

The area is closed to traffic but it is clear that Alberton Road was once a very active route that fed the town. We saw a lot of old car wrecks. This would be a great place to ride a hybrid bicycle. The road ran about 2.1 miles to Daniels. See first photo.

We passed lots of rusty car wrecks. There was also a lot of old stone and mortar construction (second photo).

Norma, Sara, and I found the ruins of the Pentecostal Holiness Church at satellite photo. See third and fourth photos. Here is what the church looked like in 1960.

The five of us turned around at the west side (Baltimore County) of Daniels Dam. That's me on top of the dam in the fifth photo. Looking down, I could see ice growing in the shady areas. In the sixth photo, Sara, Cassi, and I perched atop Daniels Dam, facing upstream.
This dam furnished 400 horsepower for canvas and denim mills and also generated surplus electricity for Baltimore Gas and Electric.
- from Maryland DNR = Daniels Area Dam

Earlier, we tried to follow a path on my 2002 map that led us away from the river near the power lines. But we could not find the trail. However, we did find where it links up again with the route along the river at Path to Church Ruins. So we walked up the hill on this path. It took us to the ruins of what was clearly once a beautiful church. See seventh, eighth, and ninth photos.
In 1878, Saint Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church was designed by John Stark and then later built on the northern side of the Patapsco River. It stood till it was hit by lightning September 24, 1927. After the fire, it was left to decay on its own. There is a graveyard behind the church which still has many headstones ranging from dates in the late 1800s to early 1900s.
- from The Urban Historians - Daniels, Maryland

Next time we're there, we'll have to try and find the graveyard.

At link are some photos of what the Saint Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church used to look like. Put on your hiking boots and go see it for yourself at location.

For more information, see Maryland's National Register Properties - Daniels Mill and "Memory, native to this valley": Exploring Daniels, MD.
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Savage Mill Trail
On December 1, 2018, the first Savage Strolls event took place. This is the brainchild of a couple of our neighbors and Norma. The goal is to build a stronger sense of community by getting outdoors together.

We walked out and back on the Savage Mill Trail along the Little Patuxent River. I spoke about various historic spots along our route such as where the granite and oak dam once resided that directed water into the millrace to power the cotton mill.

This was a dog-friendly walk. Our four-legged friends include Daphne, Rufus, and Cassi. See first photo.

Our group stopped briefly at the Bollman Truss Bridge. See second photo. From left to right standing: me, Suzanne, Jason, Nicole, Annette, Katie, and Norma. In front from left to right are Sara, Dominic, and Sammie. Wendall Bollman (inventor of the Bollman Truss Bridge) was a self-taught Baltimore civil engineer and the first to evolve a system of bridging in iron to be consistently used on an American railroad. He became one of the pioneers to user in the modern period of structural engineering.

We passed Savage Mill and then made our way to the Mansion House on Commercial Street. Afterwards, we enjoyed lunch at the Rams Head Tavern in Savage Mill.

That evening, many of us returned to the bridge for its annual holiday lighting ceremony (third photo) along with other festivities at the nearby Carroll Baldwin Hall. It was a good day to appreciate small town living.
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Patapsco Valley State Park - Hilton Area
On November 29, 2018, I left work early and then took Norma and Daphne hiking in the Hilton Area of Patapsco Valley State Park. We parked at South Hilltop Road and then walked on the Buzzards Rock and Sawmill Trails from Ilchester Rocks to the Patapsco River.

The main reason I picked this route is so we could see what the place looks like since Bloede Dam was removed on September 11, 2018. The dam was built in 1907. Here is what it looked like in 2012 (first photo). It was deemed to have a negative impact on the ecology of the river, being an obstacle for fish passage and fragmenting river continuity and aquatic habitats. Another factor is the number of drownings that have occurred at the dam. Work is not expected to be complete until 2019. For more information, see American Rivers - Going Out with a Blast - the Breaching of Bloede Dam and Maryland Department of Natural Resources - Bloede Dam.

The three of us walked west from the parking lot on Buzzards Rock Trail but the trail was closed after a short distance so we couldn't get anywhere near the dam. We checked out the Ilchester Rocks climbing area and then headed east on the trail. It was a good day to let Daphne run off leash. We only saw one other person on the trail during the time we were out.

We reached the northern junction where Buzzards Rock and Sawmill meet. Walking south on Buzzards Rock, we had a couple nice views on the ridgeline. It was a cold but sunny day. Eventually, we came to a spot where we could see construction where Bloede Dam once resided. See second and third photos. After awhile, the trail blazes disappeared and with all the fallen leaves, it was very difficult to tell where the trail was. But we stuck to the ridgeline with the nice view of the river. That was the right choice.

We came to the southern junction where Buzzards Rock and Sawmill meet. Then we walked through a tunnel under the train tracks. It was built so a creek (Sawmill Branch?) could flow into the Patapsco River. See fourth photo.

Norma, Daphne, and I walked north on the Sawmill Trail, which follows the creek. It was a lovely place (fifth photo).

The Sawmill Trail met the Santee Trail at several large boulders (sixth photo).

Leaves covered the trail and some pools of water. Running quickly, Daphne didn't distinguish between the two and as a result, ended up going for a very unpleasant swim. But she didn't complain.

I'm guessing we walked three miles.

Not long ago, I ordered several maps of the different sections of Patapsco Valley State Park. These were published in 2015. I think they are terrible. I much prefer the old maps. My favorite is from 2002. The new ones provide very little context such as local roads and small creeks. It lists parking lots but leaves out some such as the one where we started today. I looked online for some of the older maps but didn't find them. My 2002 map lists the source but that led nowhere. I know there are on-line maps but there is nothing quite like having a paper maps that you can hold in your hands.
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Wye Island
On October 28, 2018, Norma, Daphne, and I attended the 18th Annual Downrigging Weekend Tall Ship and Wooden Boat Festival in Chestertown, Maryland. Last year I saw the boats from the water but it was a little cold and windy for that today. So we were landlubbers.
  • First photo, first column: Daphne and I in front of the Kalmar Nyckel. This is
    a recreation of the ship which brought the first Europeans to settle the Delaware Valley in 1638.
  • Second photo, first column: Front view of the Kalmar Nyckel.
    The original ship was purchased from a Dutch shipbuilder by the city of Kalmar in Sweden. The city named the ship Kalmar Nyckel, meaning "Key to Kalmar," after the fort which guarded their harbor.
  • Third photo, first column: Daphne and I on the Chestertown pier. It was pretty cloudy in the morning but the sun came out in the afternoon. Still, it never got warm.
  • Fourth photo, first column: The city was building the pier on my last trip to Chestertown in the summer. So this is all new. I'm sure they put up barriers to keep people away during the construction but it is a little hard to keep water fowl away. It looks like a duck tracked some paint across these boards.

  • After seeing the tall ships, we drove across the Chester River to Kingstown where we briefly checked out a Delmarva DockDogs event. They focus on things like how far dogs can jump in a pool but they also have a silly side like a dog costume contest. See fifth photo, first column. We bought some bargain discounted dog treats.

    Finally, we got around to hiking at Wye Island. I've circumnavigated Wye Island via kayak but today was my first time exploring it from land. The three of us hiked on the Schoolhouse Woods Nature Trail, Holly Tree Trail, and Ferry Point Landing Trail. The trail map I had was quite old and didn't show all the options but maybe that's because some were dirt roads which didn't appear on the map. We found a newer map at a kiosk but that didn't show the dirt roads either.

    Here are my trail pictures.
  • First photo, second column: We saw a strawberry plant ready to seed.
  • Second photo, second column: All the rain we've had meant some of the fungii were looking pretty healthy.
  • Third photo, second column: We saw several dozen osage oranges (aka hedge apples) on the ground. They are big, heavy, and you wouldn't want one to drop on your head.
  • Fourth photo, second column: Much of the island is leased for farming. Here is a field of soy beans.
  • Fifth photo, second column: The Wye Oak was the largest white oak tree in the United States until its demise in 2002. That is no more but at least we have the Wye Island Holly Tree which is 275+ years old.
  • Sixth photo, second column: Norma and Daphne on the Ferry Point Landing Trail at the west side of the island.
  • Seventh photo, second column: Another view of the Ferry Point Landing Trail. The dense treeline with all the vines makes for a dramatic background.

  • I developed a new appreciation for Daphne's short and light colored hair. It is easy to find ticks on her. She had quite a few after our hike.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Hiking in Richmond
    On October 21, 2018, Norma, Daphne, and I did a little hike at Belle Isle in Richmond, Virginia.

    Hiking in California
    On October 9 and October 11, 2018, Norma and I did some very scenic hikes during our visit to Sacramento.

    Cunningham Falls State Park
    On September 15, 2018, Norma, Daphne, and I took advantage of the break in the rain associated with Tropical Storm Florence to get in a hike at Cunningham Falls State Park.

    We walked to Cunningham Falls, the highest cascading waterfall in Maryland at 78 feet! See first photo. In my opinion, these falls are nowhere near as impressive as Muddy Creek Falls or Kilgore Falls, both of which are not as tall but are free-falling. The top of Cunningham Falls is out of view so one cannot appreciate just how tall it is but for the other two, you can.

    Next, we hiked on the Catoctin Trail, the Catoctin-Cat Rock Connector, and Old Misery Trail on the 500 million year old Catoctin Mountains. In the second photo, Norma holds Daphne on the Catoctin Trail.

    We saw quite a bit of fungi such as Laetiporus sulphureus (aka Chicken of the Woods), third photo.
    These "chickens" are good sautéed, deep fried, baked, and may be used in soups. They can have a lemony, chicken-like taste and texture or at least go well with chicken or chicken stock.
    - from Mushroom-Collecting - Chicken of the Woods

    We saw several chestnuts on the ground (fourth photo).

    With the foul weather over the last several days, the trails hadn't been used much. So spiders spun webs across the trails and I frequently got a face full of them. These spiders included the Marbled Orbweaver (fifth photo). For more images of this beautiful spider, see Maryland Biodiversity Project - Marbled Orbweaver (Araneus marmoreus).

    Daphne ran off leash most of the time. She used to be good about sticking to us but lately she's been venturing off on her own, getting out of sight. Not good.

    The three of us got in 8.3 miles and climbed 1366 feet. It seems like we walked further. I guess we're out of practice.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    McKeldin Area of Patapsco State Park
    The forecast for the weekend of September 8-9, 2018 was not looking good. Saturday would be dark and rainy. Sunday would be worst. So Norma, Daphne, and I got outside on Saturday morning, September 8. 2018, before things got bad. We tried to go to the Woodstock section of Patapsco Valley State Park but due to road closures, we instead opted for the McKeldin area.

    We hiked 4.5 miles, mostly on the Switchback Trail and the McKeldin Rapids Trail. The South Branch of the Patapsco was really flowing and the rapids ran strong due to recent heavy rains. See photo.

    Daphne enjoyed digging in the sand and greeting children along the trail. It rained during the last half hour or so of our hike.

    An interesting story about this area:
    About 17 years ago, a co-worker (Summit S.) told me he wanted to propose to his then girlfriend. He wanted a place that wasn't too far away, easy to get to (he wasn't a hiker), natural, and scenic. I told him I had just the place. It was the rapids at the McKeldin Area. I printed out a map that showed him the location of the rapids and where to park. He checked it out and determined it was perfect. He brought his girlfriend there and then popped the question. She said yes. I've lost contact with him but assume they are still together.
    Click thumbnail to enlarge.

    Central Pennsylvania
    On August 25 to September 3, 2018, Norma, Daphne, and I did various hikes, bike rides, and two kayak trips in central Pennsylvania.

    Sussex County
    On July 7-8, 2018, Norma, Daphne, and I did various hikes and two kayak trips in Sussex County, Delaware.

    Maryland Heights
    On June 11, 2018, I took Cousin Steve hiking at Maryland Heights.

    Piney Orchard Nature Trail
    On April 30, 2018, Norma, Daphne, and I hiked on the Piney Orchard Nature Trail. But we didn't hit them all. So on May 11, 2018, we did more exploration.

    We started at 0620, parking on the stem (not the loop) portion of Brightwater Court. From there, we accessed the Wood Duck Way trail. The whole time out, we never saw anyone. Daphne was off leash from the moment we left Brightwater Court until we returned.

    The three of us explored Fox Den Loop. It is short grass so you'll want to check yourselves and your pets for ticks after walking on this trail.

    Next, we took Piney Path to Heron Loop where we saw some spider webs full of early morning dew.

    Then we walked on Wood Duck Way back to the start. Along the way, we saw wetlands that reminded us of Florida. See photo.

    It was an extremely peaceful walk. It felt good to be out so early. I imagine that the Piney Orchard Nature Trail/Preserve attracts a lot of people after work and on the weekends but I suspect these trails are less used than the ones close to Lone Wolf Trail.
    Click thumbnail to enlarge.

    On May 5, 2018, Norma, Daphne, and I did a walk on the red trail in Wincopin Park. This is a good trail if you like calm water views.

    We saw something very unusual. It was a very special cairn.
    A cairn is a human-made pile (or stack) of stones. They are often erected as landmarks and trail markers.

    This cairn was comprised of two large stones, perfectly balanced onto an area only about three square inches. How someone got it to balance so perfectly, I know not. Daphne is so mesmerized by it, her eyeballs have turned white. See photo.
    Click thumbnail to enlarge.

    Piney Orchard Nature Trail
    On April 30, 2018, Norma and I took Daphne hiking at the Piney Orchard Nature Trail. For us, this might be the best hike we'll find within 30 minutes of home outside of Savage.

    It was a Monday so there weren't many people out and we could let Daphne run off leash. She's really good at sticking with us.

    We walked on the Lone Wolf Trail, Duck Cove Pond Loop, and Vernal Pond Path. The area was pristine and natural.

    Back when I lived in thia area, around 1997, I saw my first beaver at Duck Cove Pond, a remnant of past mining operations. I see that there is still a beaver lodge there.

    We saw a plethora of turtles, including one which I estimate had an 16-18 inch long shell! It was probably the biggest non-snapping turtle we've seen in Maryland. See first photo.

    In the second photo, Norma does a shallow stream crossing. Daphne wouldn't follow and we had to carry her across. It was only about six inches deep at most.

    After our little walk, we went bicycling.
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    On April 29, 2018, Carmen and I took Daphne for a short hike in the Lands End area of Wincopin Park. This was similar to the hike I did on March 4, 2018 except the loop portion was done in reverse.

    It was sunny and warm enough for a t-shirt, though Carmen wore a warm vest. It has to be pretty warm before she goes without a jacket or vest.

    There were plenty of signs of spring including various wildflowers and a few ferns unfurling at the ruins. See first photo.

    Carmen is about eight years younger than me but in some ways seems even younger. Here she is demonstrating her youthful spirit by climbing high up in this tree over the Middle Patuxent River (second photo). She climbed up higher than I would have gone, probably because I tend to rely on upper body strength but this was more of a balance challenge. Daphne tried to join her but didn't get far.

    Next, we looked for amphibians in the vernal pool. See third photo. We saw several frogs but unfortunately, they saw us before we saw them so we didn't see them until they hopped into the water. But we did see a multitude of tadpoles (fourth photo). We also saw a couple of spotted salamander egg sacks (fifth photo). There were only about two and they were in the deeper sections of the pool. My guess is the deeper parts were cooler and thus didn't incubate the eggs as quickly as those closer to the shore.

    Daphne did a great job running off leash. She never got far from us and if she started to get a little behind, we would just call her and she would come running (sixth photo) with her ears and toungue flapping. If anyone approached, I called her and she stopped so I could put a leash on her. She met lots of friendly dogs.

    Daphne has gotten into the habit of hiding and pouncing. When she sees another dog approach, she will sometimes lie down motionless. Then she waits for the other dog to get within striking distance and then she sprints after them as if she is a jaguar pouncing on its prey. But when she lies down, the other dog can clearly see her so there is no surprise. It is all done in play.

    Back at home, I found a two inch long gray tree frog today on my grill. See seventh photo. I read that they can change from grey to brown to green rather quickly to match their surroundings. I released it near our spring.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    On March 25, 2018, Norma and I took Daphne hiking in the Woodstock section of Patapsco Valley State Park. Daphne is affecting us in a positive way. We are making more effort to get out and walk. We're also making time for short hikes closer to home that we might otherwise neglect. Daphne is still young and her endurance still has a ways to go so these short hikes are good. But she does very well when you consider she has those short corgi legs.

    I've never been to Woodstock before but I found it in my hiking notes so I figured we should investigate. I wanted a place where there wouldn't be too many people so we could let Daphne run off leash. This place is excellent for that. We were there for about two hours and we only saw one person (a mountain biker) near the end. He said we were the first people he's seen in ten miles. My only concern about letting a dog run off leash in that area is the presence of horses. We didn't see any but we saw plenty of evidence. Some horses get spooked by dogs and can throw the rider.

    As is almost always the case when we are near water, I checked the place out for kayaking potential. Looking upstream from the bridge at Woodstock Road (first photo), the water looked deep enough for a kayak with a retractable rudder. Downstream, it was more shallow with riffles. There are definitely places where one would need to portage but not many. It would be an extremely scenic and peaceful trip (second photo). The big question is where to put in. I'd probably try to do an out and back, launching from under the Woodstock Road bridge. If doing so, I'd park on the Baltimore County side near the trailhead. Doing this after a good rain would be necessary. I suppose one could launch here and take out at Daniels. If one wanted to take out here, then launching at McKeldin could work. Putting in just below the rapids on the South Branch could work but it looked pretty rocky there and the trip would be a little short. I would like to scout the North Branch and see if I could launch from Marriottsville Road.

    So much for my rambling about kayaking. Now back to hiking. We followed white blazes which took us away from the Patapsco River for awhile. I was a little concerned we were going the wrong direction but it brought us back. We passed a few intersections with other trails that could have made for a much longer hike if we wanted.

    There was still some snow on the ground, especially in the spots facing north.

    We were walking on the Baltimore County side. On the other side was Howard County and the railroad track. We saw a couple of trains. The three of us walked until we reached the confluence of the North and South Branches. Across the North Branch, we saw a woman on a horse walking in the McKeldin Area, which is in Carroll County. See third photo. Daphne was curious about the horse but she didn't bark. She's pretty quiet which is one thing we love about her. We took a break before heading back. See fourth photo.

    Norma found a vine on the ground that almost formed a complete circle (fifth photo).

    In the sixth photo, Daphne leaps over a fallen tree taken down by a beaver. This ten foot long section displays tooth marks from where the bark was removed. There were other trees in the area that displayed just as much ambition.

    Rather than head away from the river on the white trail, we followed an unofficial trail that remained within river view. It wasn't always well defined and it often leaned towards the river. We had to do some bushwhacking to get back to the main trail once the unofficial part disappeared. Not sure if I would do this again.

    As the sun started to get low, we finished our little 4.3 mile hike. Daphne did great. No whining. But as soon as we got in the car, she fell asleep.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Wincopin Park
    On March 4, 2018, Norma, Daphne, and I went for a hike in the Lands End area of Wincopin Park. We let Daphne run off leash when there was nobody else around. She did a good job of sticking with us and not getting too distracted by scents, as beagles are known to do.

    It was a beautiful, sunny, day though it was still cold enough to wear a jacket. Daphne was fine as long as she kept moving. She's big and old enough now so a two mile walk in the woods is no problem for her. She met several people and friendly dogs that day.

    One thing I love about this park in the spring is visiting the vernal pool on the green trail that runs along the Middle Patuxent River. See first photo. In early spring, it gets filled with the eggs of spotted salamanders. It isn't quite spring but we did manage to find two egg clusters. See second photo.

    Next, we made our way to the Gabbro Bridge Support (third photo). Behind the carved stone in this photo, we found an interesting rock that links to Western Howard County Rocks. See fourth and fifth photos. It turns out that Ralph put this rock there on his last hike. I hid it in a different spot.

    Norma is getting pretty good at training Daphne. She knows how to sit and on a good day, she will lie down. She practiced some basic commands at some old stone ruins in the park. See sixth photo.

    It was a good day for a local walk.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Swallow Falls State Park
    Earlier that morning on February 18, 2017, Norma and I went cross country skiing at Broadford Park. Then we ate lunch and took a nap. Having our batteries recharged, the two of us and Daphne were ready to set out on our next adventure...a walk at Swallow Falls State Park. This would be Daphne's first winter hike.

    The three of us walked on Swallow Falls Canyon Trail. There were a lot of other folks and a few dogs out. Daphne got a lot of positive attention.

    It wasn't extremely cold out but Daphne did get cold from time to time. Then Norma carried her in her gray cloth dog/cat carry bag which Norma has over one shoulder in the first photo, first column. Daphne is not in the bag in this photo but she is ready to be carried if need be.

    The park is a very popular place in all seasons. The state really spends a lot of money to make it easy for folks to get around and see the most scenic spots. This staircase (second photo, first column) and all the boardwalks were not cheap.

    All the snow was melting quickly and feeding the mighty Youghiogheny River. At the base of Swallow Falls (third photo, first column), the water came crashing down (fourth photo, first column), creating a mist. This mist then freezes on vegetation. See fifth photo, first column.

    Some of the trail was icy and slick (sixth photo, first column). Best to take small steps. But we've hiked there when things were much worse.

    One of my favorite features of the park is the steep walls of layered rock. See seventh photo, first column.

    Norma usually carries Daphne but once in awhile, I do too. See first photo, second column.

    Eventually, we came to Maryland's highest free-falling waterfall, the 53-foot Muddy Creek Falls (second and third photos, second column) which flows from Muddy Creek. Nearby, nature had created beautiful ice sculptures. See fourth and fifth photos, second column.

    We drove home with Daphne on Norma's lap. Daphne was pretty tired by the time we got home. See sixth photo, second column.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Gold Rush Hikes
    On January 13, 2018, Norma, some friends, and I did two short hikes in areas that were key to the California gold rush.

    Franklin Point State Park
    On New Years Eve, Norma and I had a few friends over to play games and ring in the New Year. Games included Crimes Against Humanity, Codenames, and Jenga. For the latter, it fell when Norma placed the second block on the 36th floor. Asha found it terrifying and quickly ran to get away from the loud crash. The best that a group and I have done is 37 complete floors on Christmas Day, 1999.

    The following morning, on New Years Day 2018, we met Lisa A. and her friends at Franklin Point State Park for a short winter hike. The temperature was in the teens but at least it was sunny and not too windy.

    So far, this winter has been colder than normal. Quite a bit of water at the park is frozen, including a significant portion of Deep Creek. See first photo.

    We saw several tree branches with things that sometimes looked like a growth. It turns out these are wings on a young sweetgum tree. See second photo.

    Dave L. joined us on this hike. I've paddled with him a few times. He is extremely knowledgeable about the area. He pointed out one section in the park that was once a runway. Looking at satellite photos, this area really stands out because it is so straight.

    The Chesapeake Bay was frozen as far out as 100 meters from the shore. See third photo. Not a good day for kayaking. Out in the Bay, we saw an interesting ice sculture that Mother Nature created (fourth photo).

    The last time Norma and I hiked here was June 25, 2016. She ended up attracting 20+ ticks. The great thing about hiking when it is so cold is you don't have to worry about such things.

    Eventually, we made our way to Flag Pond. I was told that this body of water is only a few inches deep. It appeared to be frozen solid. See fifth photo. Note that this is a different Flag Pond than the one at Flag Ponds Park which is in Calvert County. We were in Anne Arundel County.

    Near the pond, Lisa found what we believe is a muskrat skull (sixth photo). That's Dave behind her.

    We found some debris from an old dwelling along with a big osage orange tree. A lot of fruit lay on the ground. See Dave with it in the seventh photo.

    After walking 4+ miles, we drove to Gambrills to meet Lisa and her friends at the home of John and Diane S. where we had a little potluck. Then I came home to clean up the basement after having done some electrical repair work the previous day.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.