Thursday, April 24, 2014

Part 2 of 10 - Where the Woods Meet the Sand

A day all blue and white, and we
Came out of woods to sand
And snow-capped waves. The sea
Rose with us as we walked, the land
Built dunes, a lighthouse, and a sky of gulls.

- Weldon Kees, "Land's End"

Comprised of nearly 65,000 square miles of the watershed, its rivers and streams, the Chesapeake Bay is a sacred and dutifully celebrated landmark of Marylanders.  From its distinctive landscape and waterways to its maritime history and wild tales of pirates (yes, pirates!), this is truly a special place.

So, to pay homage to the crown jewel of our state, we headed north to pitch our tent in Elk Neck State Park. The park is situated on a peninsula between the Chesapeake Bay and the Elk River - an extremely diverse and beautiful landscape where the forest meets the beach. Or as Kees would put it, "...and we came out of woods to sand and snow-capped waves."  The park also includes a trail leading to the famous Turkey Point Lighthouse,  which is the highest of 74 Chesapeake Bay lighthouses and faces a breathtaking panoramic view of the Bay.

Part 2 of 10 - Elk Neck State Park

Our campsite had a beautiful view of the mighty Elk River.

Sunset in Elk Neck Forest.

Turkey Point Light House stands tall at the head of the Chesapeake Bay. It was first lit in 1835.

View of the great Chesapeake Bay from Turkey Point Light House.

Marshlands and heavy wooded bluffs lead the way to Turkey Point.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Part 1 of 10 - The Woods are Lovely, Dark and Deep

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.
- Robert Frost, "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening"

In 2014, we set out on a journey to not turn away from the woods. To embrace them.  To incorporate them into our lives and let their beauty and mystery, like a siren's call, pull us back in again and again.  

In the Maryland-Virginia area we are blessed with an abundance of natural beauty and numerous public lands through which to enjoy it.  From the Chesapeake Bay to the Shenandoah Valley, we have more than 100 state, local and national parks to explore. Visiting them all would probably take us a decade, but this year, we'll try for 10. 

And so, I have promises to keep. Before the winter kicks us back into our urban hibernation, we will camp in at least 10 parks. Sleep on their grounds, walk their trails, and tell their stories.

Part 1 of 10 - Patapsco Valley State Park

Sunrise in Patapsco Forest

Purple blaze down to Grist Mill trail, which ends at the Patapsco River.

Many fallen trees along the way. This made the hike challenging, but also made for easy resting spots.

Our trail crossed over streams and we followed this creek down to the Patapsco River.  

Our trail led us through the Ilchester Tunnel, which was opened in 1903 (now abandoned). 

The trail follows the creek below CSX Transportation - a railroad that was built 175 years ago and runs through the park. According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, "The trail ends at the ruins of the Patterson Viaduct, the first multiple stone arch railroad bridge in the world. Originally constructed using a sequence of several stone arches, floods in 1866 and 1868 devastated the structure, leaving only a single stone arch intact on the western shore."

Patapsco River