Lake Roland – Lakeside dr. off of Falls rd. – main entrance

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“Forgotten places, Do they wait for us to come and sit there?” – Architha Reddy

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In 2001 I came here with my then employer’s English Bulldogs to go for a walk. Back then, this place was a clustrofuck and anarchy of cars parked everywhere and I managed to bump the Jag on arrival and ended up leaving a ball of nerves, being intimidated by the whole situation. Fast forward to 9/5/19, giving this place another chance, being curious if anything has changed – I am here again.

It did wait for me….and what a change! I am not a firm believer of positive changes I guess.

There is no parking on either side of Lakeside dr. anymore thanks to these wooden posts. Speed bumps have also been installed through this quarter mile stretch, leading to the parking area. I am usually in favor of these yellow suspension killers but these are in need of a little shaving….poor Yoda was screeching over them, even after stopping to tackle their height.

Rules of the park heading towards the lake from the compact parking lot. We have ignored the “pier” and followed the road back to the flood gate to the left.

Lake Roland is a 500 acre park with several easy trails as we demonstrated in previous posts. I found parking on Falls rd. still more convenient but until this day we haven’t seen the serenity of the lake.

The bridge ahead, looking beyond the serene lake

Crossing the bridge over Jones falls leads us to the Nature Center and the beginning of the park. There is a small path behind the building that leads to the light rail and two option to head towards the park. We are heading up onto the right, following the railing dividing the path from the water.

On top of the hill the space opens up to a beautifully maintained park, circled by the paved trail.

We were pleasantly surprised to find Paw point dog park as we were proceeding on our walk but unfortunately needed a permit to enter. Mag got very excited seeing the other doggies playing around but we had to keep walking with disappointment.

Following the trail upward will take us to a right branch leading us to generous steps down into the woods.

Within a minute or two we are crossing the light rail. Being careful we look both ways, snap a pic then disappear on the other side.

The other side of Lake Roland. Looks like a beach but it’s just yuck.

Mag takes a selfie sitting on a stone wall.

We could go all the way to the Falls rd. entrance but turn around at the green trail marking and head back.

Tricks for chicken
The old railroad tracks are still present at certain points

Climbing back up the steps gives us some much needed extra legwork, so I welcome the pain. Mag doesn’t seem that enthusiastic about it.

Keeping right at the top of the steps will take us back towards the playground and the pavilion.

This photo was taken on the foot bridge over Jones falls.

We have made it back after a leisurely 2+ mile walk which we could have stretched to 4 or 5 if we wanted to. Come early enough and you pretty much not going to see any people.

We’ll stick to Falls rd and will walk back here doing a big loop next time.

Have a great week y’all!

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Falls road – Wrights lane (Lake Roland) – Orange trail

We start out as usual parking on the side of Falls rd. following the red trail paint.

This morning one of the houses above the trail draining their pool because it smells like pool water and the whole path is flooded. I have to tippy toe around not to get wet. The morning rays are pretty though.

We are following the orange trail on the right, after we crossed the bridge. We are taking the second “entrance” up the little hill. It will be a quiet walk since most people stick with the main path usually.

Every so often there are reminders of the color of the trail on the trees if we would forget…. Here it’s a slight uphill, both sides covered with running weeds and grasses.

Some flowers are small and some are hiding in all the green vegetation.

Common rose pink, Nettle?

This trail has several elevation and surface changes even though I still cannot say it’s even medium hard. We have to be careful when you get to the basalt stone covered path, can be tricky.

I love the difference surfaces, here there are still small stones covering the path but fallen leaves are starting to hide them.

Fall in August

And here hundreds of roots crossing our path over a small hill to give a little challenge.

And sometimes it’s a man made change over mud.

I forgot to take pictures when we turned right towards back to main trail (red) to get a bigger loop out of today’s walk. But on this pic we are already back on the red where we can again enjoy the trail art.

Spike balls made of sticks
To me this photo looks like the aliens in The Fifth Element
Metal bird sculpture

When the red trail splits we follow the right side to get ahead of some other walkers on the trail. I thought….not with Mag in tow….smelling everything….

Before we would get to the bridge, we take the small path down the water so Mag can take a dip. There are some friends here already!

Spending an extra 15 minutes playing with the other doggies was a blast! Now he is tired, wet and dirty! Let’s go home!

True mileage is 3.3 miles by ResQwalk. This App seems to be more accurate than AllTrails.

Have a great day!

Lake Roland – Blue trail – 3 miles

Entering as always from the Falls rd entrance….at Wrights lane.

Following the trail up to just before the bridge then we turn left and head slightly downhill to the water. Great opportunity for dogs to take a dip under the bridge at the sandy beach.

We will follow the blue trail today which will add up to about 3 miles total. This path is less traveled or popular for some reason. I love that about it because nature is more alive here.

My first find is an ugly little cardinal chick screaming its head off for some food. Still super cute though. I am glad I am tall, otherwise couldn’t have taken this pic.

Heading further down the path, we come across these sculptures. There are 3 of them. You have to go and see the other 2 for yourself.

Mag is so handsome in my humbled opinion that I always catch myself taking portfolio pictures of him….

Just like pretty much every other trail, this gets muddy after rain as well so there are a few places where tiny “bridges” are used to help us cross these areas.

The following about fifty feet gives me a great opportunity to look for all sorts of critters….

Praying mantis, Harvestman, Red eyed moth, tiny fly, bug with eggs, Venusta Orchard spider

The vegetation here is perfect for their needs.

A beautiful specimen of American Sycamore tree.

I think 4 or 5 spots on this trail we get a choice between two possible trails to go around either mud or collapsing cliffs. Here we have dead tree trunks helping us around the mud pit.

We usually turn around when we reach this cute house but the trail continues for a little bit longer. Not much. Maybe few hundred feet.

On the way back we are able to take some pretty pics of native plants and a cute toad hopping away from Mag’s invasive nose. Ending up wedged between small trees.

Beautiful mossy tree

We also squeeze in a quick swim then getting back on the main trail walk to our car. Happy day!

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat – Côte d’Azur – French Riviera

For obvious reasons Mag is only with us in spirit on this walk. We miss him like crazy.

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“No matter what happens, travel gives you a story to tell.” –Jewish Proverb

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Saint-Jean Cap-Ferrat is a 613 acre peninsula. To better appreciate the beauty of Cap-Ferrat and its surroundings we’ll take the approximately 14 km/8.7mile coastal path around it.

We are driving from Villefranche-sur-Mer (M6098) but which ever way we would come from (M6098, M125 or D125) we’ll end up taking M25/Av. Denis Séméria to park somewhere on the Peninsula.

We are parking our car in the open parking area at the Port de Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on the corner of Le Port de Plaisance. Make sure you get a parking ticket before you leave (weirdly enough we have to estimate the time we will spend here) and display it in the front windshield. We guesstimated 5 hours.

View from the port

We start our walk to the left, towards the water’s edge, passing restaurants and small shops on the way. At the end we keep left and in about 50 feet we cut through another parking area to the right, through a small playground next to a dolphin statue. We could take a dip here at the Plage Cros du Pin (beach) but instead we will climb up the stairs on the left crossing through the little town: Passable. We follow Av. (Avenue) Denis Séméria after crossing the road uphill a bit, through the little path between the houses staying straight. After passing by a nursery on the right, we’ll have to cross the road towards the portable restroom. Another path downward (Chemin de Passable) takes us to the Plage de Passable. (The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is really close to here. Just another amazing thing to see later.)

The tolerable beach

From here we can either follow the water to the left or walk through the restaurant’s boardwalk to get to a big apartment building on Chemin de Lido. Walk by the monstrosity (compared to other buildings around here) then take the steps downward to the right. Chemin des Douaniers is the coastal path around the Peninsula.

The Celebrity Edge docked in the Mediterranean Sea

Stopping for a sec to take a few pics. From here we can see Mont Boron across and Villefranche-sur-Mer to the right, tucked away in the bay. Cruise ships come and go pretty much every day, docking in the morning and leaving in the evening. Hundreds of smaller ships also anchored in the bay, some bigger yachts even have removable slides to enjoy their own “piece” of sea water 😳.

Villefranche-sur-Mer

The waters are mesmerizing azures and aquamarines.

Pirates (friendly ones nowadays) have been also spotted in these waters even today and used this site as their base until the 11th century (Wiki).

We’re not going to find any sandy beaches around here but the rocks give us the perfect platform to jump into the cooling Mediterranean. The blues of the water the whites of the rocks and the greenery also provides an amazing capture….some would say dramatic.

We can spot Nice from here….looking beyond the cruise ship and Mont Boron….just above the small sail ship to the left ⬇️.

Here is a better pic of Nice from December 2018

I took this Pano at Latitude 43.6841 and Longitude 7.3233 after taking the stone steps down to the tiny cove, keeping to the right and climbing out on the rocks (Don’t do it!).

Here you can see the steps leading down to the cove….

Pic was taken December 2018

The houses on the cliffs above are understated and scream: “Don’t look at me! I am so plain!”….NOT. They all have their own pools and some of them even have heliports. Cap-Ferrat has one of the most expensive real estate in the world.

I find it interesting that even though it’s the middle of summer there are not as many flowering trees and bushes as I was expecting. We have been here in the winter and it had been more colorful then. Also the air is visibly clearer in the winter months (see some of the pics). Could be that temperatures from September through May are more favorable along with rainfall. The cacti love the summer month though. They get pretty big and their flowers are a bright yellow.

Fruit of the Passion Flower, Bougainvillea, Cactus, Acacia

Here you can see the path. I do not recommend to wear flip-flops. There is no fence etc. towards the water, just about a 10 inch wide cement border, if even that. At certain spots the drop can be more than 50 feet through bushes and cacti onto the rocky cliffs.

Several hidden serpentine paths lead down to elevated jumping spots or hideaway pebble beaches. Some are stone but some are just narrow paths through the terrain with roots, stones and dirt.

Small pebble beach location Lat.43.6816-Long.7.3251
Cliff beach with the Corsica ferry in the distance

From the path you can see the steps in the rocks “paving” the way to the elevated jumping spots but it’s not always easy to find where they began. We might have to look for them. This one below is an easy one but will need some biceps to pull ourselves out from the water. See the floating dude?

The lighthouse is located on the east coast of the peninsula and was built in 1862 by the decision of Napoleon III. We yet to climb up to it and explore – maybe next time around.

There is a cooling water fountain at the “base” of the lighthouse still on the trail. Lifesaving…. Lili looks like a homeless doggie, in need of a little break. Don’t feel bad for her though! She had a jumping fest on the beach. We also take turns carrying her when the terrain gets rough.

We are about halfway around.

After our little break we are heading downhill a bit, on a much needed stone trail.

Seems like this plant is taller than the lighthouse

We have reached the southern tip with a full view of the Mediterranean Sea. No beaches here just wave crushed rock surfaces. Most jumping spots are through steps down to cemented small areas. Not all of them have steps to come out of the water though, most of them are private with removable ladders.

There aren’t any vegetation here so brace yourselves walking on the sun for about 15 minutes. Amazing, unobstructed view of the Mediterranean though. With laser sharp eyes we could see Corsica from this spot.

Somewhere around here the trail’s name changes to Chemin de la Carrière for some reason.

I didn’t take a picture of it but at the tip of the Peninsula is one of the most famous hotels in the world, the Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat. The pool is visible from the trail with its umbrellas, cabanas and an elevator for convenience.

Docking station or jumping spot?

We are in the last stretch and as you can see the rest of our little troops are way ahead of us ⬆️. They either cannot wait to have some beer or ice cream….or wanna catch those clouds swallowing the mountain tops.

This is one of my favorite panorama pics from this trip with the giant stone graffiti fish in the middle. In the background from the left are the cliffs of Cap-Ferrat, in the middle is Plage des Fosses in the Bay of Lilong and then Cap-Ferrat stretching into the sea again.

Fish close up

Just took this pic from google maps to show you Lilong bay from above.

Before turning right onto Av. Claude Vignon, I have the opportunity to feast my eyes on some beautiful flowers climbing on fences.

Yucca?, Oleander, Purple and Pink Allanda?

While turning left to Passage des Fossès (cut through), the bay is visible and gives a great opportunity to snap a photo.

Well deserved break on a whale’s tail on Av. Jean Mermoz.

Keeping to the left and following the water, we’ll round back to our car.

As you see we didn’t reach our goal of 8.7 miles because we ended up cutting our walk short not going around the protruding east side.

I guess we’ll do that as well as the light house and some other interesting, beautiful, must see spots around here.

We will be back….

D.R.O.O.L. – June 2019

Daily Reminiscence Of Our Lives

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“June is the gateway to summer.” – Jean Morgan

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6/30

NCR – PA line

It’s before 8am and close to the 80s. Mag takes a dip.

As soon as Ollie sees Mag, he approaches us. He has no interest joining just me.

Ollie’s beautiful eyes.

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6/29

Morning walk Lake Roland – Falls rd entrance

Summer heat is killing me…. On the positive side, we are done shopping before 7 and on the trail 20 minutes later.

Morning rays

This cheeky little dove landed right next to me to get some water.

Bridge over Moores Branch

Pooped out

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6/28

Morning walk in Leakin park

Purple coneflower

Red gladiolus buds

Pink gladiolus

Thistle flower with Carpenter bee
Bindweed with itty-bitty worm

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Evening walk

Daylilies in our garden
Plantain lilies at a neighbor’s house

One of Mag’s fave rolling spots

Hibiscus syriacus
Persian silk tree
A tiny hover fly on my buddleja

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6/27

Short morning walk in Sudbrook park

The Mag

Large Milkweed Bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus)
Wild garlic
Swamp Milkweed buds
Birdsfoot trefoil

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Carpenter bee on a branch at home.

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6/25

Evening walk

Large Milkweed Bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus)
Carpenter bee on milkweed
Great grey slug (Limax Maximus)
Unknown desert plant

My knock-out rose

Wolf spider
Groundhog with apple

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6/24

Neighborhood walk

Our pleasant neighbors

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6/23

Soldiers delight morning moon

Ruby-throated hummingbird (male) drinking

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6/22

Morning walk on NCR – PA line.

Early enough to be by ourselves.

Daylily, Moth mullein, ?, moss, ferns, berries, ?, ?

Mag and Ollie

Bridge over Prettyboy reservoir

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6/21

Morning exercise at Falls rd.

Got the trail for ourselves

I was able to approach the mystery snake I was talking about a few days earlier. He/she was in the mood to pose for me today before sneaking off into the greens.

Watersnake?

River view

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6/20

Evening walk….

Milkweed pollinator
Before the storm

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6/19

Cylburn Arboretum

Beautiful flowers great us at the parking area.

Moth mullein, wild basil, Linnaea grandiflora, Aphrodite, Japanese meadowsweet
Crepe myrtle, ?, Red hot pokers, Aphrodite sweet shrub, chicory

We are backtracking today, starting out behind the Vollmer building into the woods through Ravine trail.

Few feet after the deer gate, my chase buttons are pushed, looking at a tree with clearly the Pileated woodpecker’s signature on it.

He is actually sitting up above us, chuckling. They should’ve been called road runners.

Ravine trail overlook
Up-up we go
American beech, wild berries, Chicory, Bottlebrush buckeye

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6/18

Lake Roland – Falls rd. entrance

As a misanthrope I can say that today was a crowded day at the path. Counted 3 people on our 2.8 mile walk. Also made a snake jump off a cliff into the water with a big splash. First day – after 2 years 1 month- that I let Mag walk off the leash and he followed me like a champ. Love this little dude!

Suspicious stone (sorry it’s sideways)

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6/17

Leakin park

Just wondering around for a short walk this morning. Humid and hot already @ 8 am….yuck. Mag has found a turtle. (Jeez I sound silly.)

Bottlebrush Buckeye bush

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6/16

Making my breakfast for the next 2 weeks. If I haven’t mentioned it, I am a vegetarian, part time fruitarian.

Who wouldn’t love this guy?

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6/15

Puffy Rice hijacked Mag’s cot

And the others took ownership of the car. Good luck cleaning the hair off of that top, Hubby! Front and center: Pompadour aka Puss in boots. On top right to left: Bagheera, Jaffa and Puffy Rice.

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Soldiers delight – Choate Mine trail

June 26th

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” Summer heat is proof that Mother Nature is menopausal.” Maxine

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It’s 7:30am and already in the upper 70s. We have parked on the side of Deer Park rd across from the overflow parking area since the Nature Center’s lot only opens at 9. Here the car is in the shade until we get back. Choate has two entrances, we’ll be using the further set to get through both grasslands before we bake out there on the sun.

Until we get to the plains the trail here is a bit wild. Since it’s early, I catch all the spiderwebs flexed between the bushes. Lovely.

Here is one I have missed.

Getting over the first grassland takes about 5 minutes. I would melt by that time in the afternoon so I am glad we came early. Depending on the season this area can be full of birds, butterflies and other cute little critters. I can hear a beautiful melody sung by – maybe – an Oriole.

White Ermine moth, Ridged yellow flax, wild berries, Crofton weed

As soon as we arrive at the tree-line, temperatures drop at least 5 degrees. Just before though, we take a small bypass to the left onto a small path taking us down to the creek to cool off.

Walking back to the bushy zone and up the little hill, we get to an “intersection of paths”. Taking the left side again still “climbing” up, will lead us to the small plain.

Crossing this grassland is pretty quick and we will have a nice surprise at the end. Nature presents us with a lush meadow, in the middle is the previously small creek swollen into Red run. It’s still modest in size but looks amazingly inviting.

We spend about 15 minutes here, Mag is fooling around in the water and me just taking pictures. Lovely to be in the shade in this pretty valley, surrounded by ferns, singing birds and all sorts of dragonflies zooming everywhere. Keep looking around for magical deer or at least a unicorn to appear….

Catching back up on the path we have a bit of an uphill, following the red markings on the trees.

Good that I have my eyes open for hidden little treasures along the way, peeking from underneath the fallen leaves. I always hope for seeing wild orchids but any pretty or interesting find will do.

Amanita caesarea
Indian pipes

The only distraction is the far away traffic noise filtered through the woods (795?).

When reaching the top of the hill – parallel some row homes (?) – we’ll follow Choate trail (red) to the right. This section is mostly swampy after rain but now when it’s dry the forest looks younger and lets more sunshine in. I haven’t heard the birds since the creek but here, they are back again.

Bigger branches help to get through the muddier areas

Before we get to the crossroads – keeping right again – I hear deer huffing in the bushes but they stay “invisible “.

This part gets super muddy after a storm. Boots are a good idea.

On our left, there are some fenced in small parcels with audio options to learn about the miners life – back in the days when the area was used for this purpose -, but it’s not in working order. Keeping to the right the gate to the parking area is just a minute away.

Checking Mag for ticks revels 7 bloodsuckers! Ouch!

We have done 2.1 miles in sloth pace. Might be a new record! And it’s still before 9 am. Awesome! Another 12 hours to find something to do…..

Ta-ta!

Oregon ridge park – red-yellow trails

June 24th

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“The soul that sees beauty often times walks alone.”

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To tell you guys the truth, for some reason I always forget about this park. Even though I spend a lot of time around Hunt Valley. It is so convenient and amazingly spacious – over 1000 acres – within 15 minutes of Baltimore. It has lots of little trails and at least 2 big interchangeable trails. Two separate parking areas – both entrances are from Beaver Dam rd but one is about 20 feet from Shawan rd. It has a lake aka Oregon pool, 2 playgrounds, several open- and a covered picnic area, a Lodge and an outdoor concert pavilion. It also gives home to the Oregon Ridge Nature Center.

The park was originally created on the site of an abandoned iron ore and marble quarry back in the 1830s.

I pulled Yoda in under the trees so while it’s still be hot by the time we get back, it’ll help a little. Starting towards the Nature Center, greeting the chickens, a turkey and a gander after passing the Nature Classroom and a tenant house on the right. Heading into the woods left to the interactive playground we says hello to a beautiful owl in an inclosure.

Educational boards

I love the sight of these colorful trees along the path. They each tell a story of some sort.

When the path splits after the artwork tress on the top of the hill, we are heading right.

Striped prince’s pine

There is something magical about the forest in the morning sunshine. I feel centered and joyous.

Following the red trail.

Thankfully we are never too far from a creek, giving us an opportunity to cool down and take pretty pictures.

The slight uphill will take us to another split where we’ll turn right again.

Educational board about chestnut trees before turning right.

Getting to the clearance in the woods we turn right on the sunny path and then left back into the forest.

At our favorite bench – it’s really a masterpiece – we take a few minute break to admire the beauty of its construction.

While taking this pic I notice a green caterpillar with a face, on one of the cardinals! Too cute!

Eastern tiger swallowtail’s caterpillar

Follow the yellow cut through to the right.

Shortcut through a fern “forest”.

Reached the yellow trail (S. James Campbell trail).

Even though none of you will notice our distress but from this point on for a mile we got chased by a gadfly. First it was just bothersome but it didn’t wanna quit. Racing downhill to reach the ‘run’ through stones and wood barriers was not something I would do normally. Finally I might have whacked him in the head ’cause it disappeared.

We are safe at last at Baisman Run.

The crossing is a bit adventures for people but easy for dogs. Happy pup.

About another minute away we can cross on a wooden bridge. I prefer the other.

Crossings vary every time we get to another portion of the run.

My wish was granted.

I am soooo glad I have Mag with me! He has found a viscous water root….I don’t know what would’ve happened without him spotting it.

Another beautiful landing in the water. So serene. Could take a nap here.

Back to reality. The trail awaits. Uphill for a while.

In the middle of the struggle, we meet a guy (3rd person today) with a beautiful German Shepard. It’s not enough to huff and puff going up, now I have to drag an 80 lb dog with me as well who doesn’t wanna not great another pup. Great.

On the top I have a minute to relax spotting this toad jumping on the path. He was a poser.

Getting hotter already since the creek is way behind us in the valley.

Ladybug on a bench, funny tree, Indian pipes, butterly wing

Follow straight onto loggers trail (we are back on the red trail) ….

….passing by the old ski hill lookout with a bench to take a sec from hiking.

Continuing on the steep red trail we must pay attention to where we step. There are man made steps periodically but still have to be careful.

Indian pipe

At the clearing we keep straight/left until seeing the steps through the overgrown vegetation. This will lead us to the playground.

Walking pass the picnic tables….

….Oregon pool is on our left, with the covered picnic area next to it. Over the water there are dozens of dragonflies chasing each other.

Up the small hill, through the parking area, keeping left, down the brand new stairs to our car.

4.1 miles of bliss. Clean Mag off. No ticks found. Wave good bye ’till next time.

NCR – Sparks rd to Corbett rd

(June 20 2019)

“Go where you most feel alive.”

Today’s “adventure” is starting from the Sparks road parking lot. We are here early, thanks to the heat and humidity index for later. Both of us rather take the 60s. Nice shady spot in front, since only 4 cars are present. Good to be an early bird.

Crossing Sparks rd
Heading to Corbett rd

Some sniffs at the post and then we are off for our walk. The other day we have missed the mile 4 marker because we have turned back at the barrier at Sparks. Well, here it is.

Leaving marker 4, the path starts to turn left and right through the woods. The ground cover here is mostly ferns but at this particular area it’s full of Japanese Meadowsweet.

While we enjoy the lush vegetation and the scattered farms peeking through the leaves, we quickly arrive at Glencoe road. Even though there is a small parking area here for about 5-10 cars the distance is definitely too short to turn around and call it a day.

Glencoe road crossing

We’ll be on our way to the next crossing.

Beautiful old Mansion

The next mile is uneventful and quiet. Not a lot of people around today either. Must be the weather. 96% humidity only stirs the crazy up. We reach the 5 mile post so quick I have to do a double take.

Hot, hot, hot at 10am

Mostly on the right side – I guess thanks to the river running on the left (heading north) – there are a lot of pretty rock formations. They definitely give more interest to our surroundings.

Gunpowder Falls is finally running close enough to the trail that we can see it through the flora.

Calm waters

Another 0.2 up the trail and we can actually head down to it to take a break and a splash.

Clearing to the river through Milkweed forest

Mag is in the water in about 1 sec flat. He is part fish, I swear.

After replenishing ourselves we head back towards north. Mag nicely cooled but I am still sweating up a storm. By the time we get up to the next bridge over the falls, we are hot again.

Through wire fence

Few people are fly fishing in the river, standing on a sand island, one of my favorite farm as a backdrop.

The next mile marker – 6 – is just a spit away from here.

Walking another half a mile from the marker – just after the left bend – is our target, Corbett rd.

We’ve made it

There is no parking here and even though Monkton is just a half a mile up the trail we are turning back because of the heat. On a cooler day I would have just keep walking….but not today. We take a last look at the great old houses here and then head back.

On the backtrack Mag takes a break yet again, ready for a picnic.

He hits the falls one more time.

We come across a lucky charm.

Horseshoe print

Say hello to the three sisters.

Enjoy some alone time, even though there were about 50 bikers passing us just five minutes ago.

We also spot a cool lantern on a tree close to a house next to the trail.

We learn cool info about a Circa 1930s train signal and….

discover yet another cool house.

Almost get hit by a buzzard just before getting back to Yoda, flying above the trail from a swampy area, which deposits a raw smell of death. I have noticed the smell when heading north but didn’t see anything dead around. This bird is proof that some sort of body is laying within the high grass.

He just flew up there.

We are back at the car. After turning on the engine to cool the cockpit, I clean off Mag and check him for ticks. Standard procedure.

We have done about 5.3 miles – AllTrails not trustworthy – and almost passed out caused by humidity and heat. Next week will be more brutal, temperatures will be in the mid 90s. Yikes.

We’ll be back for more!

NCR – Phoenix rd to Sparks rd

“I could never resist the call of the trail.” Buffalo Bill

Starting at this point on NCR requires us to come early. This small lot fills up fast. It’s 7:30 which I consider late….even though it takes us a 30 minute drive to get here.

Only a few cars present and no one on the trail as far as we can see.

Frogs are our only companions. Ribbit ribbit.

We quickly reach the Phoenix rd. W. bridge. Ok not that quick since Mag smells everything.

Sorry for the graffiti language, some people have too much time on their hands but not enough brainpower.

On the right after the bridge there is a little creek and about 40 feet in my fave tree which I take a picture of in every season. Not today though ’cause of poison ivy. This pic is from 1 year ago.

Ribbit ribbit.

There are also a few crows being chased by smaller birds. Probably nest thieves.

Vegetation is pretty thick in June so I can only get a glimpse of Gunpowder Falls.

I also notice, there aren’t a lot of wildflowers to photograph. That’s a bummer.

Even though I love milkweeds, there are so many pics I can share of them with you before you get bored with it. I wish I could attach the fragrance of the same plant. It’s beautiful.

We are walking through one of the small bridges over a sub creek….

and also reaching the mile 3 post.

After this point there are some small kinks in the path.

Cooling the temperature down on our right are stone formations with filtered water seeping through, wetting the trail with its veins.

On the left, Gunpowder lazily flows beyond the trees and shrubs.

When paying attention we can see an about 80 feet drop ravine on the right behind the trees over the embankment. No need to panic! It’s dropping towards us so it’s actually 80 feet tall.

Years ago in the spring I have seen a brown owl here flying through the woods.

The temps are so much cooler here that the milkweeds are still just before flowering.

If I could get to the seeping water at the stone wall I would drink from it. But swampy soil and plants are in my way.

Heading straight ahead, only stopping for a second to take a pic of my favorite stone which I used in the past to turn around when I was training for a half marathon.

At the 3/4 of this longer stretch of the trail there is a house with this cute gate.

Mag sniffed here for so long I ended up pulling him away.

Sparks rd is not far from here after the bend. If we would wanna go to the 4mile marker, gotta keep walking. It’s another 0.2 miles away, after crossing the rd.

NCR is pretty clear cut so our walk back is uneventful. Except Mag getting in the water at several stops….

Rolling in high grass and meeting a friend (cannot prove the later) ….

Sitting (standing I mean) on a bench….

Checking the creek from up above….

Finding an occupied birds nest….

Ribbit ribbit

And finally taking a picture again of the river, while leaving Mag on top of the stairs.

After photographing the road sign….

we cleaned off and headed back to the city.

As I said in my last post AllTrails is not reliable to measure the distance, actually we only did 3.7 miles.

I would recommend NCR to anyone who likes a nice stroll in nature or want to bike for miles without getting worried about traffic or training for an event or really, anyone. Love this easy, long trail close to the city but far as well thanks for its length.

P.S.: by the way….the parking lot is full inside and outside the fenced area.

Soldiers delight – Serpentine trail

“Sometimes, the shortest path between two points is serpentine.” Christopher Benfey

Got up early today as usual. Thanks to Mag.

Got to the visitor center at 8, even though this environmental area only opens at 9am. Since the gate was open we took liberty to drive up the road and park Yoda in our usual spot. Gearing up Mag and putting on my boots and long socks only took a few minutes.

We gonna start counter clockwise today to beat the possible heat/sun combination later on. Heading to the right sort of into an open field on Almart trail. Kind of feels like we are going back towards Deer Park rd., which we are.

It only takes a few minutes and 0.4 miles to reach the ‘outside’ parking lot.

We will walk along the road keeping left than pass the cars and information board, nearing to the Serpentine trail sign.

The trail looks innocent from here….

English daisy, ?, Blue elderberry, Common self-heal, Wild garlic, Pine cone

but do not let it fool you. It’ll get rooty and rocky soon enough on a slight downhill within the woods.

Who knew?

Into the woods we go

Boots recommended

I always feel like Little Red Riding Hood walking through this part of the trail.

There might be a wren living in this tree

Soon enough we get out to the open where the power lines cut through the vegetation.

When emerging, we scare a doe, running into the narrow wooded area on the opposite side. Too fast for me to take a picture.

“I smell a doe” Mag says

This next – probably half a mile – portion is the reason we started out against the clock from where we’ve parked. Coming through here, late on a summer day can be waaaay too hot. (Speaking from experience.) Pretty much no coverage after we leave the tree line.

Grassland ahead

Information board

Views

We were her a month ago and I was outraged that someone started a fire out here on this open plain but I looked it up online and turned out that it was a controlled fire. It reintroduces the process of fire to strengthen restoration efforts and helps rare plants survive.

Before and after (1 month)

There are two little streams going downhill from the grasslands making Mag super Happy!

For about a quarter of a mile it will be uphill through rough, stony surface but nothing extreme.

Hang on until the 90 degree left turn in the woods.

After the bend, the trail turns to being the only option for the rushing water after rain to escape so it is rough at places. Gets pretty narrow and overgrown as well.

That is why I always wear boots. Doesn’t matter how hot it gets. Anywhere we go mud, rocks, roots, bugs, rivers can happen. And ankle twists – when wearing running shoes. Live and learn.

We are out in the open grasslands again. If we look over the plain, we might see other people where we have been 30 minutes ago walking either direction.

Up ahead the trail is being rerouted to save some of the vegetation from us hikers. Following the sign to left at the fence, walking through again the narrow patch of woods we end up being under the power lines once again.

Continuing across into the tree line….

we will soon reach the Red Dog Lodge….

and to the left on the trail the Visitor Center….

and the parking lot with Yoda!

Yay! We have survived another adventure!

So as it turns out AllTrails GPS system is not so reliable. It cheats about 0.15 miles / every mile, counting more than we actually do. Doesn’t seem too bad until we are doing way more than just a few miles per occasion.

Until next time.

Leakin Park II

“It’s all about convenience. You have remote access to everything.” Kevin Marquess

Convenience = location close to home won out today.

We have parked at the main parking area again on Eagle dr.

There is a little path from here on the left side of the tennis courts.

But we are not going to use it today since they are still working on the BGE pipeline and it’s cutting through this little path. Looks quaint though.

Keeping on the left side of the loop like last time, we’ll go through this natural tunnel of branches.

This is the portion of the path with all the nature art displays. Nature inspired self-expression is very popular in Baltimore. I have seen art in the woods at several locations around here.

Nature art

At the wooden sign we keep left towards the Nature Center, keeping an eye out for all the critters we might come across.

Jane doe

At the end we turn right still heading towards the Nature Center. When reaching the praying mantis and the squirrel,

– cutting through the grass – “skulking” behind the building, searching for the direction post. There it is!

This track will lead us to the elevated wooden plank path through a green passageway.

Here we go!

It is the perfect height from the shallow swamp floor.

At the end of this portion of Wetland trail we end up on paved Hutton ave. Turning right onto Hutton, watch for traffic! This road right now has a lot of heavy load vehicles. When reached Wetheredsville rd. (next paved road across) we need to look for the trail sign to the right at the edge of the woods.

We are walking slightly uphill from here into the woods, following the blue diamonds painted on trees. Periodically crossing over wooden paths to elevate us from mud and wetland.

It’s good to keep an eye out for animals – mostly deer and birds – and awesome nature built structures….

Heading downhill now, it feels like we are in the middle of nowhere. Feels so remote even though we are in the city. I can hear the rushing water of Gwynn’s Falls and Dead run branch.

Pass the sign that says Ridge trail until the next one at the bottom. We will follow Stream trail this time around, almost immediately getting a look at the creek.

Over a hundred years old wall structure growing out of the water giving home to moss and fern. We spotted a Great blue heron gliding above the water looking for a nice landing spot but seeing us he kept going (🙁).

Around here – the water being so close – gets really muddy after a nice rainfall so I always recommend to wear boots and watch your steps! Feeling the remoteness of these woods also reminds me of warning you, that there are not a lot of people around. I haven’t seen anybody today so far since we have parked the car. Always tell someone where you are going and be safe!

While I was running my mouth we have reached the bridge at the bicycle path. Keep right on the paved road.

First time since we started out that there are some sign of life. Construction work noise cuts through the trees, coming from the little South located parking area. Dead run branch is almost running dry here or maybe its bed is just oversized.

Unfortunately the trail here looks in despair and abandoned even though the parking area is well kept on the other side of the water. I particularly like the bridge with its pretty railing. Looks old age quality work. Must have been a beautiful area back in the days.

We are stumbling over broken pavement pieces here, heading towards yet another sign….

and still to the right towards one of the history boards….

and a little further up to the Picnic grove.

Keeping right, walking through the little wooden bridge….

onto Ravine trail on top of the stone ruins.

From this point it slightly uphill. We’ll take Old Fort trail towards the Mansion.

This uphill hike feels good. Gets my old body’s juices flowing. Good to have Mag pulling me upwards a bit though. I have caught so many spiderwebs I probably look like a cotton candy.

Mossy old wood, ruins, Paulownia tomentosa, spider

Keep heading towards the Mansion to make our loop.

Right….I can tell we had good rain recently because the trail is washed out a little bit. Looking up though I rather marvel at the huge tulip trees. They are amazing!

To the right again….up to the parked cars.

Yay! Got to Orianda Mansion.

Reaching Eagle dr. we can head either way but we will turn left to face incoming traffic on this one way loop. I like to see if cars are coming even though there are not too many of them. Two of the original buildings are this way. One is the honeymoon cottage the other is the carriage house with a new extension. All of the buildings are used by the Outward Bound School.

Details of the carriage house

I love looking at the blooming chestnut trees, their flowers reminding me of fireworks. Their fragrance is pretty spectacular too.

Leaving the trees there is a weird structure close to the tree line. It’s some sort of exercise contraption for the outbound school. I have yet to see anyone on it….

Few hundred feet from the parking lot on the left is the Baltimore city bike unit’s station but on the right is the beautiful Winans chapel. It is under construction at the moment but I hope they will do justice to this amazing little building when finished.

We are almost back at the car, passing by the playground and the tennis courts.

Rounding up our walk today at 2.7 miles we are back at Yoda, patiently waiting for us.

Solituday

NCR trail – Paper Mill rd to Phoenix rd

Love the sight of an almost empty parking lot on a Sunday morning. Thanks to the dreary weather today, people stayed in bed I guess.

This is sort of the beginning of NCR. The main parking lot is on the left side on Paper Mill rd. coming from Hunt Valley. However the 0 mile marker is about a half a mile further down on NCR towards the city – after crossing Paper Mill by foot – at Ashland rd. Parking is very limited, no sense even trying, except being dropped off.

Having a goal of completing the about 20 mile distance in MD and the additional 20 in PA from the beginning of NCR I still would park at the main parking area, walk back to warm up to the 0 mile and start my journey like that. Just an idea.

This is my version of solitude. No one’s on the trail for a half a mile behind or before us. Beautiful. Just Mag and me.

Definitely best to come in the morning, perhaps before 9am. On the weekends even earlier. Close proximity to Hunt Valley makes this location highly popular.

This Lime Kiln in the hillside was probably constructed in the late 1800’s.

We have just reached the 1 mile marker, before the bridge and it starts to sprinkle.

I hope it won’t become a bigger problem ’cause Mag is not a fan of getting wet. Soaked is not even an option.

I recall one day in our evening walk in our neighborhood. It started to pour without giving us a fair warning – overcast doesn’t always mean rain -. Mag had scooted under someone’s overgrown front foliage, pulling me with him. Not that it was good coverage. We were still getting soaked just not from direct rain. A neighbor driving by offered to take us home – two blocks away – but I rejected, thinking of her car getting dirty. I ended up pull-running (nice ring to a new Olympic sport) Mag home which must have been a sight.

Gunpowder Falls

Passing the bridge and yet again, like so many times, I can hear the elusive Pileated woodpecker’s laugh. It just took off from the tree above us, crossing the river. Bummer…. I don’t think I will be able to take a good pic of them….like ever!

I think he is laughing at me! Flew right back, landing on a tree above our heads. I can actually hear several of them in a few hundred feet radius. I am the laughing stock of woodpeckers. I still love these creatures though.

Corn chamomile, Red-bud leaf, dewy leaf, Yarrow

Walking pass the floodplain we can hear toads conversing about life. Mag finds their ribbiting rather amusing, freezes in deep concentration, trying to figure out what alien sound that could be.

Dame’s rocket, mossy twig, Hydrangea, Rose meadowsweet

By the time we reach the little rest area at mile 2 the rain let’s off a bit so I can take some nice pics of the flowing river. We made our loop for today so will be heading back. (Next time around we’ll be parking here, heading towards Monkton.)

Steps are slippery when wet!

Though the frogs are still super interesting on the way back, movement from the other shore is even more engaging. Mag has spotted a Canadian geese family with at least five chicks taking a break at the edge of the water. The chicks totally blend in with their surroundings, only the parents white head-markings visible – not on the photo though. (Where is Waldo? – see that circled black line in the middle? That’s momma perhaps. Babies towards the left from her.)

Continuing our walk I notice, it feels hot and humid but at the same time caused by the light drizzle, chilly as well. Such a weird feeling….

Driftwood overload under the bridge

These little creatures are also on the move, amusing Mag endlessly. The orange slug is the only one we come across from the gastropod family but plenty of tiny frogs crossing the path coming from the river. We save as many as we can mostly from bikers.

So I have counted 10 people all together this morning on the trail. Highly unusual thanks for the rain Even that parking lot has only a handful of cars.

We got super lucky. As soon as we get to the car it starts pouring again. Mag is pooped, even though we have only done 3.3 miles.

It’s time to clean him off and check for ticks.

He is falling asleep already….

Our drive home is about 30 minutes so he’ll have a little time to snooze.

Funny enough at the end of our driveway, after coming back from the wilderness 😻 this is what greets us….

That’s city living in Baltimore!

NCR – Freeland to McCullough

(North Central Railroad trail AKA Torrey C. Brown Rail trail)

This is the first of several NCR walks we’ll do and one of my favorites. About a 20 minute drive on I83 north from Hunt Valley. Far enough from the city that most people don’t bother coming up this far. Parking area is on Freeland road – west of 83 – off of the Maryland line exit.

Parking is pretty spacious, however I have never seen more than 10-15 cars here at a time. Other great thing about this spot – on NCR – that there is a “restroom” other than those awful portable toilets. It’s an actual building with composting toilets, kept pretty clean and gender segregated (close the lid after you are done).

We are only the second car here, even though it’s almost 8 am. The weather is also in our favor today, a nice, breezy 66F. I love coming out here early in the morning. I wish I could get paid for walking around in nature with Mag, taking pictures. I wish, I wish, upon a star…. or maybe this Black-Winged Damselfly.

Sweet honeysuckle filling the air with its narcotic scent.

Tiny yellow leaves are trickling down from above, making me feel like I am in a fairytale. A Red- bellied woodpecker almost takes my bangs off, then lands on a dead tree.

I’ve spotted 2 or 3 bigger nests close to the trail but I am not sure what type of birds occupies them. They are definitely not squirrel’s because no leaves are present just twigs.

One mile from the PA line

We are approaching the little organic farm on the right with the Little Free Library. It’s a birdfeeder- sized house-shaped structure where people leave books for others to take. I have had exchanged many books here since it’s appearance.

Little bit further up there is the house of cats. Every time we pass by here there are cats on the little embankment, playing or sitting on trees. This time they are snoozing, scattered haphazardly in the greenery.

We have just arrived at Oakland rd., crossing over it.

Which reminds me to warn you guys of poison ivy! It is unfortunately everywhere! I am allergic to it so I don’t let Mag in it if I can help it. It only disappears for a few hundred feet when we get to the rocky part of the trail after this little creek.

Our view, approaching the PA (Pennsylvania) line.

Great info here of our whereabouts….

and a nice little dipping spot for Mag (video will play horizontally).

As you see I have crossed the creek and will continue in the grass until Orwig rd. (few hundred feet).

AND this is where the most interesting and loved part of trail is for Mag! The horse farm!

Except the horses are MIA today. This has never happened before. I don’t know if they are inside or just traveling? Mag is super confused and do not wanna believe his eyes!

We will continue towards New Freedom hoping on the way back they will be outside.

From here on, the old railroad track is still visible. We reach McCullough ave. in about 15 minutes and turn around (at the 1 mile mark from the MD/PA line) after chatting with new friends and their dogs.

Off course Mag must stop in the mud pit, since he is a Pig Bull.

Unfortunately the horses were still missing so he opted to roll in high grass instead of crying himself to sleep….

There is a roofed picnic table on the right about a quarter of a mile before we would get back to our parked car – Yoda – and there is a small path down to the creek. One last dip and he’ll be sleeping for the rest of the day.

Sorry, I guess I have turned my camera….

5 minutes later we are back at the car, cleaning off Mr. Piglet

Heading home the long way, ’cause it’s Sunday and we have nothing else to do!

Both my mileage trackers stopped working while out so I cannot share pic of route but we did 4.7 miles.

Have a wonderful week everyone!

Thank you for reading our little stories.

Sleepy Saturday

“Weekends don’t count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless.”

I was telling Mag that I will sleep in. His dad let him out at 5 in the morning so in my opinion there was no reason for waking me up at 7am. He did anyway….

This morning we’ll check out

Lake Roland Park

(we will enter from Falls rd. at Wrights lane – this is the first time I have noticed that the trail’s unofficial entrance have an actual name – under I83 (inner loop))

Map

RANT: (Verb – speak or shout at length in a wild, impassioned way)

Please do everyone a favor including yourself! If you are coming from North (I83) do not park on your right. It is clearly posted that there is NO PARKING on that side! Because it is NOT safe for you to cross busy Falls rd.! Drive up about a quarter of a mile and safely turn around at the next development’s entrance/exit (it only takes a minute of your life, really). After you have done this amazing maneuver (proud of you all!), please DO NOT STOP in the curve of the road on you right either….this spot is also clearly marked with NO PARKING signs. Pull up about 30 feet onto the gravel and park your wonderful vehicles there.

I have seen such daredevils aka #letsscarethes..toutofincommingtrafficwhiletryingtocauseafatalaccidentcauseidontwanttowasteaminutegoingdowntheroadtoturnaroundsafly (you might notice I am going for a world record here), who would actually park on the left side of Falls coming from the North – facing incoming traffic for a few seconds in an S shaped road – and also on the left side of the 90 degree right curve NO PARKING zone.

NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! HELL NO! Are you trying to kill yourself? Or others?

Please!!!! I am pleading here!

You have come here to enjoy nature, to exercise, to take pictures etc. or because obviously you have the time to be here any given day of the week instead of doing more important things (I am guilty as charged!) Take your time to be safe for all of our sakes!

Thank you!

Caring is totally stressing me out. #BREEEEEEEEEEATH!

Keep on walking, keep on walking….

This trail is always a good idea when it’s hot since it stays much cooler thanks to its huge trees and the Moores branch.

Mag loooooooves this part of the trail under the bridge.

Today we are following the RED trail until we reach this wooden sign

then we are turning right onto the GREEN trail, which will pick back up to the red one but will give us a bit of more challenge (1% more).

It is a tiny bit more hilly, rocky, rootsy.

We have just scared away a doe close to the creek….I have pooped my pants and Mag almost ran up the hill to chase after her. Sigh….

When we reach the RED trail again, we’ll turn left to make our loop. There is about a quarter of a mile with pretty nature art (it’s a very popular way of self-realization in Baltimore).

The trail gets arrow straight for awhile with the old railroad tracks still visible.

This section also gets really muddy after a good rain so be careful or use the other trail on the right about 20 feet away. Even though there are wood circles and planks laid down on the path at several locations, all should still watch their steps. I was unlucky enough about 2 months ago, badly twisting my left ankle on them, another mile of walking still ahead of us. Recovery was more than 3 weeks and it’s still very finicky in certain angles (I have never had any injuries in my life, if you wonder).

As always, today’s walk was great! We met quite a few friends, mostly friendly ones this time around. Mag was very pleased.

Off course no day goes by without me forgetting something, so there is no image from AllTrails today since it slipped my mind to turn it on. I’ll blame my rant for that one.

As you can see we are packing on miles as time goes by. The further we go out of the city the more walking we’ll do.

While cleaning Mag off in the car I got suspicious of a weird sound. Started listening and sure enough there was a bird nest above Yoda. Chicks were screaming their heads off for food!

Nature/animals never stop to amaze me. There is a forest next to us and this little bird builds a nest right above a busy road’s gravel parking area. I am crossing my fingers for them!