Hiking 2024

This page describes my hiking adventures in 2024.

In the photo above, I am standing in the German Alps near the Austrian border on May 13, 2011. For more information, see Germany 2011.

Beverly Triton Nature Park: February 24Open accordion icon
Daphne and I have launched at Beverly Triton Nature Park but this is the first time we hiked it. I'd been waiting for a not-so-warm day because I suspected it might be buggy. It was cool and sunny.

Our first stop was the tot lot.
Daphne standing on a giant fake frog

Much of the park faces the Chesapeake Bay. Here's Daphne on one of the concrete and rock jetties. It was a little windy...hence the earflip.
Daphne stading on a concrete and rock jetty with one ear flipped up

There were quite a few people out walking, along with several dogs. They mainly stayed along the Beach Trail. If those other dogs are anything like Daphne, they really enjoy the feeling of sand between their toes.

Someone built a nice home for mason bees. I saw no residents.
Several mason bee homes in stand

I passed a couple of people on bicycles.

I found an eagle nest overlooking the southwest side of Deep Pond.
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Bald eagle in nest
Eagle in nest.
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Two eagles, one in nest and one on branch above
Two eagles.

I don't know what this is. Maybe it is a football blocking sled for Andrew the Giant.
Something made of rusty I-beams that looks like a big football blocking sled

I saw a few deer. Daphne somehow missed them.
Doe looking at me

Here's our route. We got in 4.8 miles.
Map of our route
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Greenbury Point: March 24Open accordion icon
Back on Christmas Day 2023, Daphne and I explored the trails at Greenbury Point. At the time, Norma was with her family so she could not join us. But I knew she would enjoy this hike so I vowed to return with her.

We parked at the Greenbury Point - Nature Center and then ventured south on the Bobwhite Trail, following the route at AllTrails - Greenbury Point Trail. We walked on the scenic Poet's Nature Trail which parallels Carr Creek. I missed this part on my previous visit. The trail was well-maintained, well drained, and wooded.

Next, we walked on the peninsula where we had a nice view of the Severn River.

I showed Norma the leftover foundations of previous radio towers and the three remaining ones.
Norma and Daphne in front of radio tower

We saw an osprey with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in the background. Earlier on our walk, we saw a pair of V-22 Ospreys in flight.
Osprey on nesting platform with Chesapeake Bay Bridge in the background

We also spotted some bufflehead ducks.
Bufflehead duck

Quite a few people were out walking their dogs but not nearly as many as on Christmas morning.

The three of us walked 3.4 miles.
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Patuxent River Park: March 31Open accordion icon
After my morning paddleboarding trip with Daphne, I drove us on the Critical Area Driving Tour (CADT) to a small parking area just south of Mattaponi Creek at the edge of Merkle Natural Resources Management Area. From here, we walked across the wooden bridge over the creek where I saw an osprey on its nesting platform.
Osprey in nest on platform

On the north side of Mattaponi, we commenced to explore the red trail in Patuxent River Park.

It had been several years since I walked on this section. It was extremely scenic, especially the area along Old House Creek. Looking down on it, I saw a very impressive beaver dam. At various points on the trail, I saw signs of recent activity.
Gnaw marks from beaver on tree stump

We saw many of signs of spring and this made me happy. I only wish I had seen more wildlife...a snake would have been great!
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I found an old, abandoned small shack.
Daphne to entrance of abandoned building structure

I heard a couple barred owls. I spent quite a bit of time looking for them but never saw them. I knew I was quite close to one. Because I spent so much time looking, I don't think we really covered much distance, even though we were out for at least an hour. But that gave Daphne plenty of time to sniff...one of her favorite pastimes.

Completing my drive of the CADT, I saw a turtle in the road. It wasn't going anywhere so I simply moved it to the side so it wouldn't get run over.
Turtle in my hand, not box
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Foraging at the Hell House: April 7Open accordion icon
It is that time of the year when morel mushrooms are emerging so Norma insisted we go foraging. We grabbed Daphne and then headed out to the Hell House - Bonnie Branch Road.

On Bonnie Branch, I saw the Bonnie Branch stone dam, the place I refer to as my favorite man-made waterfall.
Water flowing over Bonnie Branch stone dam

Here are concrete remains of Bonnie Branch Mill just downstream of the dam. It was considered a merchant mill...whatever that means.
Concrete foundation of Bonnie Branch Mill

I explored the ruins at the Hell House just briefly. I'm not sure what this brick structure was. Pretty much everything here was part of the ruins from Saint Mary's College, built in 1868.
Brick structure

Here's looking down inside the brick structure.
Inside the hole of the brick structure shows darkness and loose bricks

Unfortunately, we found no morels, even where we had spotted some previously.
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Foraging at Patapsco River State Park: April 7Open accordion icon
After our brief foraging stop at the Hell House, Norma, Daphne, and I moved onto Patapsco Valley State Park - Woodstock to continue our search.

We commenced our hike on the Baltimore County side of the Patapsco River heading downstream.

Just off the trail near a creek, Norma found two small morel mushrooms. Unfortunately, that is all we found for the day.
Two small morel mushrooms

We passed a very small and scenic waterfall.
Small waterfall

There was lots of muscovite lying around.
Before humans learned to make glass from quartz, the finest window panes were formed from large sheets of muscovite. Although not perfectly transparent, these window panes were far superior to an uncovered opening or window coverings made from cloth and animal bladders.
- from University of Minnesota - Muscovite
Muscovite in my hand

We spent a lot of time looking for morels near the railroad bridge. The water was pretty high. Just across the river, I spotted a Pileated Woodpecker. It was also foraging.
Pileated woodpecker

The three of us crossed the railroad bridge. I was concerned it would not be safe to do so if a train came by but there was a metal section off to the side that made crossing easy. We returned to our destination via the shortest route on the Howard County side of the park.

It was a perfect day, in terms of weather. But in terms of foraging, it was mediocre at best.
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Shenandoah National Park - basalt columnar jointing: April 13Open accordion icon
Norma and I don't often get to see Carmen so we consider it a treat whenever she visits. I was hoping to take the two of them and Daphne out kayaking on the Susquehanna River to Indian Rock Island to see the cormorant and great blue heron rookeries but with 30+ mph wind gusts, such a trip was clearly unsafe. So instead, we drove out to Shenandoah National Park - Lands Run for a day of hiking.

We headed south on Lands Run Fire Road until we reached Lands Run Falls.
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Carmen, Norma, and Daphne at the top of the falls
Carmen, Norma, and Daphne.
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Carmen, Daphne, Norma, and I beside the falls
All four of us.

After seeing the falls, we returned to where we started, crossed Skyline Drive, and then hiked east on Dickey Ridge Horse Trail and Springhouse Trail.

Norma was looking for morel mushrooms. We found none. But we did see various flowers in bloom.
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Small flower with white petals and yellow center
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Unknown purple flower
Purple flower.

We headed south on the Appalachian Trail until we came to the Compton Gap Parking Lot. This is where we wanted to start but by the time we arrived, it was full.

I was looking for snakes and, like the morels, they were not out. But I did see other fauna or their remains.
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Millipede in my hand
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Two non-native Asian lady beetles
Asian lady beetles.
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Snail shell in my hand
Snail shell.

We crossed Skyline Drive again and continued south on the Appalachian Trail. Along the way, we encountered a taste of what was to come. It was a very special geologic formation known as basalt columnar jointing.
Columnar jointing is a geological structure where sets of intersecting closely spaced fractures, referred to as joints, result in the formation of a regular array of polygonal prisms, or columns.
- from Wikipedia - Columnar Jointing

At the next trail intersection, we headed south to Compton Peak East. Even without many leaves on the trees, the view wasn't so great because of all the foliage. Here is a zoomed-in view between some branches looking southeast.
View from Compton Peak East looking southeast

Heading downhill and south from Compton Peak East, we came to our main destination.
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View from below of the hexagonal boulders
Looking up.
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Group photo of all of us in front of the basalt columna jointing
The four of us.
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Daphne in front of basalt columnar jointing
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Norma and Carmen taking a post-lunch nap with Daphne watching over them
Nap time.
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Me pretending to be a rockclimber
Poser rockclimber.
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View from below of the hexagonal boulders
View from below.
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The four of us by the rocks
Group shot.
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Basalt columnar jointing seen with clouds filtering the direct light
Cloudy view.

One thing I learned about photographing the basalt columnar jointing in the afternoon is that bright light produces harsh shadows. I think it is best to take pictures when there is cloud cover.

There were some other visitors to these rocks but not many. This place is fairly unknown. That's part of what makes it so special.

Hiking north, we crossed back over the Appalachian Trail and then continued to Compton Peak West. Here's a view looking northwest.
View from Compton Peak West looking northwest

At this location, we really caught the full force of the 30+ mph gusts.
The four of us at Compton Peak West

Back on the Appalachian Trail, we retraced our steps heading north. But instead of taking Springhouse Trail west, we walked on Dickey Ridge Trail heading west.

After walking for a short distance, we encountered Fort Windham Rocks on the north side. These rocks rise as much as 50 feet above the ground. I don't know how this place got its name.
Fort Windham Rocks and all the greenstone in this area are part of the Catoctin Formation, a series of related lava flows in Virginia, Maryland, and southern Pennsylvania. These rocks are being broken apart, little by little, by the power of ice and frost. Because the rocks at Fort Windham are covered with lichen and weathering rapidly, they feature some fascinating colors.
- from Compton Gap Parking trailhead sign
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Carmen in a narrow crevasse
Carmen in a crevasse.
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Carmen jumping over a deep crevasse
Jumping over crevasse.
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Crevasse that did not go all the way through
Dead end.
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Me at the entrance to a crevasse

We hiked a total of 8.3 miles that day. I would say our elevation gain but I've grown to mistrust my Garmin when it comes to that information.
Labeled map of our route

Shortly after leaving the park, we stopped at the Apple House for dinner. The place reminded me a bit of the Cracker Barrel but with more of a Shenandoah feel. The food was very good and reasonably priced.

It was a great day to get outside and I'm really happy Carmen could join us.
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Lower Delmarva: April 19-20Open accordion icon
On April 19-20, 2024, Norma, Daphne and I did a couple of short hikes in the lower Delmarva area near Cape Charles, Virginia. These included the Brownsville Nature Conservancy and the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge.

Mom's visit: May 24 - June 3Open accordion icon
From May 24 to June 3, my mom visited. I took her on several short, local walks in the area.
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Patuxent River Park: June 8Open accordion icon
After paddleboarding on the Patuxent River with Daphne, I stopped at the Saint Thomas Church Road trailhead in Patuxent River Park to take her for a short walk. Here, we were able to access the Red Trail.

There were some big, beautiful trees near the trailhead, such as this chestnut tree which glowed yellow with catkins.
Catkins on chestnut tree

Soldier beetles flew and crawled all over the tree.
Soldier beetles mainly feed on pollen and nectar. Because of their frequent contact with flowers, soldier beetles are important pollinators. They do not damage flowers or other plants and are harmless to people.
- from University of Minnesota Extension - Soldier beetles
Soldier beetle

The first part of the trail passed by a big, open farm field. Then we turned right into the woods and walked by a creek where we saw a frog.
Frog in creek

We also saw an American toad.
American toad

I'm guessing we only walked about a mile. Daphne spent the last few hours standing on a SUP so I didn't want to wear her out...just give her a little exercise and the opportunity to sniff everything she wanted.
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