Sunday, April 10, 2016

Thomas Farm Hike

I was planning to hike Brooks Hill today – the other “half” of Ford Loop, but the gate was closed, so I went on down the road to Thomas Farm. 

I wanted to do Brooks Hill because it was ccccccold this morning and pretty much the entire trail is sheltered from the wind.  Thomas Farm is wide open and yes – it was very brisk indeed!  This is the view across 270 to Worthington Farm, which is where the Ford Loop/Brooks Hill trail head is - and that's my shadow!

Bright sunshine and clear blue skies.  The Thomas Farm  trail is about 1.75 miles, mostly flat. It is a blue blazed trail.  There is a little side trail with white blazes that takes you down to the river.  I think it adds about another half mile.  The path down to the river is a bit steep, but once on the river, it’s quite flat.  Trail details here -

It’s amazing how different the landscape is from Ford Loop, even though the two trails both border the river and are really close together.  The trail today had almost no bluebells, but hundreds of Dutchman’s breeches – most white, some pink, tons of spring beauty and a bunch of another little flower that I don’t know the name of –will see if I can figure it out.  I couldn't get good pics without lying flat on my belly and it was too doggone cold to do that - plus I would have had way too much "help" from my canine buddies!

Jason and Cam love it because they can really move out and also because there must be a million ground hog holes lining the trails that they can poke their noses into.  This one was like a ground hog condo with several holes around the base of the little hill.  I wish I could see a map of the interior – I wonder if anyone makes a cave drone?

Even though the vistas from the farm are beautiful, the downside to the farm is that 270 runs right alongside the trails and even on a Sunday morning, the road noise is a little intrusive. I just blocked it out and listened to the birds singing.  I was surprised not to see any deer because I almost always see deer there.  Maybe they were hiding out at a warmer locale!  I did see a woodpecker, but it was elusive, so I don’t have much detail on it – it kept peeking around a tree at us – very funny!  Also saw several bluebirds on the return trip along the trees/hedgerow.  This is the treeline - the sun was so bright, it kind of burned everything out, but the beautiful pale sky and pale grass shows up.  Gorgeous!

I don’t want to be unkind to Jason – I don’t always think of him as a rocket scientist type of dog – but every once in a while he surprises me.  There are lots of small trees lining this trail and he managed to keep his leash from getting tangled about 95% of the time.  He was definitely keeping an eye on where he needed to be.

I took a picture of Brooks Hill – that was where I was planning to hike this am – the trail tops out on the ridge and runs along the clear space for a short while before diving back into the woods.  Maybe next weekend, although I am thinking of trying to get up to Gambrills for a hike early next Sat AM. 

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Morning Hike at Ford Loop

Gorgeous walk on Ford Loop at Monacacy Battlefield this cold April Morning with Cammie and Jase.  I had to scrape ice off the car because of the sleet that fell before sunrise.  The drive was beautiful with mist rising from the river.  It was overcast, so no pinks or golds, but the clouds were still beautiful.

There wasn’t a soul around when we got there.  Both fields by the parking area look to be planted in alfalfa.  We walked straight out along the road that runs by the pastures.  The young dairy heifers were fascinated with us and followed us all along the field. 

Cam got a little close to the live wire on the bottom of the fence and got zapped!  Cresting the hill, I saw one of the momma beef cows standing over a baby in the pasture to the left.  They were pretty far off, but the baby still popped up to its feet when we came over the hill.  Just beyond them was a dead cow.  I didn’t take a picture, but guess I should have – new life and death side by side.

I debated peeling off to the left and taking the Brooks Hill loop, but it was pretty wet overall and the trail is pretty steep, so I opted to stay on the Ford Loop.

It was very wet down by the river and slippery as can be.  Even Jason slipped at one point.  I went carefully.  The Virginia bluebells are out and their elusive sweet/spicy scent came and went.  They are so beautiful to look at and so hard to photograph! 

There was a lot of storm damage – just about as hard to get a good photo as with bluebells, but there was a mighty downed tree in our path, so I grabbed a shot of it.  Had to bushwhack around it as it was too high for Jase and me to go over - lots of spikey branches sticking up and actually too low for Cam to go under.

The pups were happy as can be, poking their noses into everything. Jase dived into some brush and came out sporting a huge sticker branch tangled in his fur!  I stepped on it and sent him on his way and fortunately, it came out – I didn’t want to handle it – it still stuck me in the leg though!  It’s amazing how different their coats are.  Nothing ever sticks to Cam, even as low to the ground as she is, but Jason is like a magnet – everything wants to stick to him.

The trail runs along between the river and sort of a swampy pasture area – we were nearly at the place where we cross a little bridge over the swampy area to head back up the hill when I saw a flash of tawny wings.  It was a big raptor – I couldn’t tell what it was at first, then as we cleared the trees, I saw a huge owl sitting there watching us.  Beautiful!  I really need to bring a better camera with me.  I am generally pretty happy with my little cellphone photos, but to get a picture like that takes a little more horsepower.  A bit of a "where's Waldo" pic, but I think you can find the owl!

On the way up the hill, we saw a pair of cardinals flirting with each other.  In fact, there were birds and birds singing everywhere – I should get a little smarter about identifying them.   The heifers were not in sight. Poor Jason went to pee on the fence of the dairy pasture and got zapped by the electric.  He was so upset that he clung to me for a few minutes.  I gave him some petting and hugs, and we went on our way.  Then he tried to do it again!  Goofy dog – I guided him to the other side of the trail. 

There were maybe 20 deer in the field beyond the woods as we came up along the dairy pasture.  They saw us and took off towards the parking area.  Cam saw them right away and wanted to chase them.  I don’t know what a 25 lb dog thinks she is going to do with a herd of deer each of which is 10 times bigger than she, but I suppose she would think of something!  Jason was still a little cowed by his zapping and wasn’t very interested in them.   Wet and dirty dogs!

They ran to the edge of the field and watched as we loaded up back into the car and went on our way towards home and a yummy breakfast for all.