Friday, October 8, 2010

A 120 Minute Maryland Mountain Getaway

Heading north toward Gettysburg, that topography?
Continuing on my theme of making the best of things, I tried to turn two inconveniently scheduled meetings in the foothills of western Maryland into a worthwhile and relaxing day. It kind of worked. On the way up to the morning's first meetings with Trout Unlimited and Maryland DNR, it was great to get away into the hills a bit - and I am not a mountain person. But I was reminded of Gillian Welch's "Lowlands" and I thought that the lyrics might have some merit toward the "I-95 corridor" life that so many of us lead...those fortunate enough to still be gainfully employed.
What is this weight on my mind?
And what is this new sense of time?

It's the open fields, and my friends that are gone
And I've been in the lowlands too long
With my first meeting wrapped up in the foothills, I started up the Blue Ridge Escarpment to Catoctin Mountain, home of Catoctin Mountain National Park, Naval Facility Thurmont (aka Camp David), and Cunningham Falls State Park for a long lunch.

Up, up, up the escarpment along Big Hunting Creek
And of course, by "lunch," I mean playing in the water. There are a few public lakes in the area but nearly everything is fee-driven, which of course cuts down on the amount of use and pressure. My kind of place. There was no staff from any agency around, so I just left my annual pass in the windshield and backed down the boat ramp....
Lunch was delicious today....I didn't eat a bite
I picked this spot because it was centered amongst the day's work activities, but also because it has a largely forested watershed, and we've had over a foot of rain in the last 10 days. I also believed that since the area is nearly 2,000 feet above sea level, the water would be cooling off. Well, I was wrong about that. According to a few of the old-timers there, I'm a few weeks early. Fishing was extremely slow, but I impressed myself by observing the conditions - deep, clear, cool water, good rocks, with vegetation only growing right above the bottom. I remembered the last time I fished this type of condition. The magic lure was a 3" pumpkin craw. I tied one on. On the second cast over a fallen tree.....
It's no trophy, but I worked hard for this fish!
Shortly after, I checked my watch and realized it was time to head out to an all-afternoon field meeting with the Potomac Conservancy. I dutifully packed it in and headed back to work. Still, it felt great to know that my actual fishing skills are what landed this fish. Would have felt even better if I had landed 30, using said skills. Just a few hours later, I had wrapped up my day in the mountains and headed home....about 30 minutes too late to miss rush hour traffic. Didn't matter though - I felt mentally cool & refreshed and when I got home, we took Hank over to the Tot Lot. Think this won't recharge you after a long day?


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Over 12 years ago, I started this blog. There were very few conservation or outdoor blogs at the time, few websites with fast-breaking con...