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


Hiking Adventures 2018

Last updated October 15, 2018


Homesteading     Bees
    Solar PV
    Solar Thermal
Martial Arts
Misc. Links




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.
Click thumbnails to enlarge.

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.