Sunday, December 1, 2013

Little Patuxent River - Lake Elkhorn to Savage Mill

Hiked the Little Patuxent river from Lake Elkhorn to Savage Mill this afternoon with Chris. The blue heron was in Lake Elkhorn near the underpass to the trail head.

This doe was with two others. We watched them for ten minutes without spooking them as they browsed in the the trailside thickets. A few more photos can be seen here.

I had never heard of these rapids/falls just upstream from Savage Mill.They are pretty impressive.

At trail's end we climbed up the hill from the river beside this support building that once powered the looms of Savage Mill.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Resisting the change of season

Some will not submit until snow falls and draws the curtain on autumn. This canoe is beached on Brice Run just before it passes under the Old Main Line and feds into the Patapsco River between Daniels and the Dorsey tunnel on the Baltimore County side. It was the only water craft I saw today during my hike.

Found some rocks today that looked blood stained. I think I know what it is. More on that after I check with my geologist.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Westbound Out of the Mt. Airy Tunnel

CSX 7834 out of the western portal of the Mt. Airy tunnel, headed for the midwest with a trainload of cars.

Mt. Airy - Point of Convergence and Divergence in Central Maryland

Mt. Airy is a small town at the geographical heart of central Maryland. It is the only place in the state where four counties meet, Frederick, Carroll, Howard and Montgomery. It is west of Baltimore and north of Washington. The headwaters of the Patapsco and Patuxent rivers are there only .6 of a mile apart.
The four counties meet at Parr's Spring, the headwater of the Patapsco on the historic Four Counties Farm on Parr's Ridge. The Patapsco river divides Carroll and Baltimore counties on the north and east from Frederick, Howard and Anne Arundel counties on the south and west as well as Baltimore City on the northeast from Anne Arundel county to the southewest The Patuxent river divides Howard,  Anne Arundel and Calvert counties on the east from from Montgomery, Prince George's, Charles and St. Mary's counties on the west. The historic National Pike from Baltimore to Illinois passes along the southern boundary of Mt. Airy, as does the Old Main Line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, now owned and operated by CSX.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Liberty Dam and a Controlled Burn at Soldiers Delight

Went out with Chris today to the base of Liberty Dam and Soldiers Delight, neither of which he had visited before. Between the two hikes we stopped briefly at the shooting range of The Associated Gun Clubs of Baltimore on Marriottsville Road. There had been a controlled burn of one section of grassland at Soldiers Delight since I hiked there by myself last Sunday. A few hot spots were still smoldering as we walked beside the burn area.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Soldiers Delight is Delightful

A unique serpentine barrens landscape on a beautiful day, temperatures in the 50s. Soldiers Delight Natural Environmental Area, near Owings Mills in Baltimore County, is a place worthy of return visits.I hiked a 2.5 mile loop on the Serpentine Trail with vistas like the one below.

There is also an attractive Visitor Center, and today, after my initial hike, I went on an excellent guided informational group tour on the history of chromite mining at Soldiers Delight. The Choate mine is on the Choate Mine Trail. More photos from my hike can be seen here.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Woodbine to the Mt. Airy Tunnel

Today I hiked from Woodbine, actually the Morgan Road crossing on the approach to Woodbine, to the Mt. Airy tunnel, a seven mile walk. I saw two trains. At the start an eastbound train headed for Baltimore at the Woodbine tunnel. At the finish a westbound car carrier train headed into the Mt. Airy tunnel. The only living wildlife I saw were birds and the first and biggest of them was an injured turkey buzzard, which literally fell down the hillside on the approach to the Woodbine tunnel. I think we scared each other. The big bird appeared to have an injured wing, rendering it unable to fly, though it was able to walk.

The other wild animals I saw, at least a half dozen, were all road kill between the tracks, including the box turtle in my previous post today. Not a happy day for wildlife viewing. Also strange was that the Mt. Airy tunnel was the only tunnel I have encountered on the Old Main Line that does not have its name built into the masonry of the tunnel's portal. You can see more photos here.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hiking in the clouds....and in the rain they carry

Today, after yesterday's ten mile warm up, I hiked fifteen miles in the rain from Frostburg to Cumberland along the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad right of way. It was wet but beautiful, and everyone on the trail except me was on a bike. The clouds came down to meet us.

And the view of the the Allegheny escarpment in the Cumberland Narrows, Maryland's Cumberland Gap, was quite impressive and made clear what early American settlers were up against in moving over the Allegheny mountains.

More photos here.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Great Allegheny Passage

Actually the GAP is mostly above ground, but this is a shot inside the three quarters of a mile long Big Savage Tunnel through Big Savage Mountain only a short distance east of the eastern continental divide. This morning I hiked a ten mile stretch of the Passage from Deal, PA to Frostburg, MD with my brother Chris. It was the nicest hiking and biking trail I have ever walked because of vistas like this:

The trail is on an abandoned Western Maryland Railroad right of way which runs from Cumberland, MD to Pittsburgh. PA and connects with the C&O Canal tow path at Cumberland. More photos can be seen here.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Cumberland Connection

The Western Maryland Railroad station in  Cumberland, MD. This spot in The Queen City is where the C&O Canal, The B&O/CSX RR and the Great Allegheny Passage rail trail meet at the confluence of the Potomac River and Wills Creek, one of five gaps allowing passage over the Allegheny Mountain range, the other Cumberland Gap. It is also where during the French and Indian War British General Braddock, with his aide, Colonel George Washington,  marshaled his forces at Fort Cumberland before attacking the French at Fort Duqusne, now Pittsburgh. Braddock suffered fatal wounds when his force was ambushed en route to Fort Duquesne. George Washington assumed command. In 1794 President Washington again used Cumberland as a staging area before he marched into Pennsylvania as Commander in Chief of an American army to suppress The Whiskey Rebellion on the western frontier of the new nation. More photos here.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

On the Road Again - Sykesville to Woodbine

On the rail road that is. Picking up where I left off in June on my quest to hike the B&O Old Main Line, I hiked from Sykesville to Woodbine, or at least to Morgan Road, about a mile from Woodbine. Four and a half mile each way. Nine miles in four hours with time to stop and smell the creosote and snap a few pictures. It was a perfect day for hiking; cool and partly cloudy, temperature in the mid 60's. Beautiful! Saw lots of wildlife:  at least a half dozen deer, hawks, geese, a blue heron, cattle, horses, bright colored song birds and even a box turtle trying to figure out how to get over a rail to cross the tracks. After a train passed over him, he turned back the way he came. Here is a view of the old Sykesville yard looking back toward the east.

I parked beside Baldwin Station in a lot on the old Sykesville freight yard, which has some old rail cars. It also serves as a staging area for Maintenance of Way vehicles for CSX. The 29 mile marker is about a quarter mile from Baldwin Station just around a bend heading west. The short Sykesville tunnel is another quarter mile down the tracks. It has two bridges over the Patapsco River, one on each approach. The river makes a sharp bend to the north around the ridge that the tunnel goes through. So, between the two bridges the track is in Howard County for a few hundred yards, then back into Carroll County. After the tunnel there are four at grade road crossings in the next four miles: Gaither Rd., Hoods Mill Rd., Rt 97 and Morgan Rd. about a quarter mile past the 33 mile marker on the approach to Woodbine. I encountered two eastbound trains during my hike and heard the whistle of a third train, headed west, as I drove out of Sykesville at the end of my hike.

I have posted more photos of today's hike at this link, but the pair of geese below, cruising the Patapsco, were too beautiful not to include here.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Doable Dorsey Tunnel Walk Around

Today was the first time since July 4th that I had a few free hours. So I hiked the Alberton Road trail on the Baltimore County side of the Patapsco River, heading west past the the Dam at Daniels and up to the eastern portal of the Dorsey tunnel. Back on May 19th I had attempted to find a feasible walk-around of the tunnel between the tunnel and the river. I found only a trace fit for deer and mountain goats, to steep and unsafe. Today I found a decent trail over and around the tunnel on the high side of the tracks. It can be accessed at the 19 mile maker. Enter the woods on the right side of the tracks,  and then look for the trail on your left that slopes up the side of the hill. It will take you to the far (western) side of the tunnel.

While I was on the trail I saw two mature deer hightailing it away from me with their while flags flying. But then I ran into this little fawn grazing beside the trail. It did not bolt. We studied each other quietly as I approached and was able to snap a few pictures,

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Lazy Wetheredsville Walk in Leakin Park

After the scorching heat of the past week, this morning was only moderate relief. But I needed a hike and wanted to stay close to home. So, I walked the  Wetheredsville Road (Dickeyville) section of the Gywnn's Falls Trail, crossed Windsor Mill Road and continued on the Gwynn's Falls Trail just east of the bridge over the stream. Easy level hiking, maybe three and a half or four miles at most. This is what the beginning of my walk looked like.

Also noticed a lot of spider webs highlighted by the morning sun. Here are two of them.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

From the Archives

These photos have always been among my favorites. I took them at a neighbor's wedding reception  in 2008. I just love the interaction between the two little girls and their mother and the other little girl running down the hallway in background toward the reception room. Brides in waiting.


Friday, July 5, 2013

Swamp Thing

July 4th I walked early along the Howard County side of the Patapsco at Daniels. It was damp and very humid from all the recent rain, and the trail was muddy in a lot of places, but otherwise pleasant, and the trail company was very nice. Lots of people fishing, kyaking, paddle boarding, biking and hiking. Walked to the Davis tunnel, above, and back. Done by 10:30 a.m. I took only a few photos and most did not come out as well as I had hoped.

So here I add a photo, below, taken on Memorial Day at  the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area, which expresses the results of the kind of rain we have had lately and the wetlands that thrive on it.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Pappa at the Paw Paw - A Father's Day Trek with Kristen

A few years ago I purchased a book titled Weird Maryland. Yes, there are books for other states in the series, and for the USA as a whole. A sharp marketing concept for sure. Anyway, in the Maryland edition, space is given to the Paw Paw tunnel, the largest structure on the C & O Canal, and a major engineering feat when it was dug in the mid 1800s.. Why it should be designated as weird rather than interesting or historic, I don't know. I guess they had to fill the book, and there weren't enough truly weird places in Maryland.  But, Paw Paw got my lovely daughter's attention. She was seized by a desire to go there and suggested it as a Father's Day adventure for the two of us. It fits right in with my railroad hikes and the tunnels on the Old Main Line of the B &O Railroad. So, off we went. It was a return trip for me. I had walked the tunnel before, about 50 years ago, when I was a Boy Scout on a canoe trip along a parallel stretch of the Potomac river. The walkway is the towpath used by mules that towed the canal boats. It was dark then, and it's still dark in there. Not like this long exposure. More like the one below it.

Take a flashlight, or a headlamp. The tunnel is 3,118 feet long and unlit.

More photos here.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Henryton to Sykesville and Baldwin Station

Started out this morning about 9:25 at the rail crossing on Marriottsville Road which is about the 24.5 mile mark on the Old Main Line. About a half mile west you hit the 25 mile mark and the Henryton tunnel is in view. The tunnel is short, 430 feet, and you can see clearly through to the other end. It is also one of the oldest railroad tunnels in the world in continuous use. Unlike the terrain at  Dorsey tunnel,  this location has a decent walkaround path along the river. As soon as you pass through or around the tunnel you come to an old power plant that contained the boiler for the Henryton State Hospital that was originally built for tuberculosis patients and was later used as a hospital for patients then described as mentally retarded. The buildings are now in ruins and are slated for demolition. Fuel, probably coal, for the power plant was obviously delivered by rail. The siding tracks running up to the side of the building can still be observed in places.

Along the rails I saw a huge white tail buck, a red fox, a great blue heron and a ground hog. Only the ground hog moved slow enough for me to get a photo. I also observed a large stand of bamboo at Henryton, just off the rails on the flood plain of the Patapsco. It looked out of place. I believe bamboo is an invasive specie of plant, and I wonder who started this stand and how far it will spread. Now all we need are some pandas.

The historic Sykesville train station is now a restaurant, Baldwin Station, named after the architect who designed the station along with several other on the Old Main Line, including the one at at Point of Rocks, the subject of a previous post. Sykesville and its station are at the 28.5 mile mark. My hike was eight miles, four in each direction. It took me about four and a half hours, which included time for a beer at the restaurant. I was back to my car by 1:55 pm. The rail bed really hugs the river most of the way along this stretch of track. The right of way is very narrow for much of the distance. I saw only one train, eastbound to Baltimore. More photos can be seen here.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Tagged Rolling Stock

Generally I am not a fan of graffiti, but it seems to me that certain canvasses are so bland or ugly that graffiti actually enhances the object that gets tagged or decorated. This piece of art on a piece of CSX stock caught my eye as it rolled by on one of my recent hikes. There was just something about the colors and the textured background that I found appealing. The photo does pose a question. Did the artist work around the stock number on the bottom edge of the carriage, or did CSX re-stencil it while leaving the rest of the art intact?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Middle Patuxent Environmental Area - Mystery Car in the Woods

There is a car in the woods at the MPEA in Howard County, MD. Very much out of place now, but probably disposed of when the land was privately held and before it became an environmental property managed mostly for the benefit of various bird species and especially the woodcock. I met several birders on my hike there yesterday. Very nice and informative people. I also found my camera woefully inadequate for capturing small hyperactive birds. But I love a mystery. So I set out to identify the year, make and model of the abandoned auto hulk. Because all identifying markers, lettering or medalions, were gone, I focused on the bumpers and grilles of late 1950s and early 1960s, all American made of course, before the flood of foreign imports. Noboby made chrome bumpers and grilles like American car manufacturers in the 50s and 60s. The distinctive two over two headlights and turn signal sockets and the four hash marks on the fenders behind the headlights were the key markers I looked for, along with the beginning of the horizontal fin on the rear fender.  So here it is: the lovely 1958 Chevrolet Impala. I think I even found the right color. This photo I found here on an internet search. It is not one of my photos.