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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Cunningham Falls State Park

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

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"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Cunningham Falls State Park

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Saturday, Bobby and I took a day-long excursion to Cunningham Falls State Park, near Frederick, Maryland. CFSP boasts--among other things--the State's second-largest waterfall: a 78-foot (23.8 meters) cascading waterfall.

We'd done six hikes already this year before Saturday but they were all easy trails. CFSP--aside from the direct trail leading to the Falls--has nothing with a rating less than "Difficult." We were up to the challenge.

Saturday was a beautiful day with temperatures in the mid-80s. When we woke up, the clouds looked threatening, but Bobby checked the radar and there was no rain in sight for 600 miles. So we headed west on Interstate-70. One of the wonderful things about Howard County is that one only has to drive west for fifteen minutes before the mountains become hazy in the distance. I've never lived so close to mountains before.

Cunningham Falls is part of the Catoctin Mountains, which are in turn part of the Appalachian Mountain range. The Appalachians are the oldest and were once the highest above-ground mountain range in the world, comparable to the Himalayas. Millenia of wind and rain have worn them down to the graceful mounds that now grace our western horizon.

Getting to CFSP was a bit of a challenge, as MapQuest was a little dicey, then a sign was down and so we ended up guessing our way. Luckily, we made the right choice and ended up in the place we needed to be. There were two ways to get to the falls: the easy-rated Falls Trail--the only "easy" trail in the park consisting of a well-maintained gravel path*--and the difficult-rated Cliff Trail.

It is my nature-snob's opinion that no "trail" lined with gravel or containing fences to keep hapless walkers from falling over the side should count as a trail. If you're not getting your boots sucked off in mud, ducking under fallen trees, and possibly tramping through dung, then you're not really hiking.

Bobby and I thought that we'd have time for two hikes, so we were going to take the easy trail and save our climbing for later in the afternoon. Alas, we stepped onto the Falls Trail right behind a gaggle of suburban yuppies complete with the screaming kids...and we looked at each other and said, "Cliff Trail? Yes!"

It was worth it too because we never got around to the second hike. But the Cliff Trail was called "difficult" for a reason, though (luckily) most of the climbing was in the beginning. I have learned that climbing is best done as such: take a deep breath, put the first foot forward, and go. Don't stop. If you stop halfway up, it's hard to get going again. Momentum is your friend.

We made the climb, and it basically meandered down to the falls from there, past several interesting rock formations. The first photo turned out a little blurry but shows the top of the rock formation that you will see in the second picture.

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Once we climbed down, we found that the rocks were spectacular indeed! Of course, I assured Bobby, being named after a Lord of Caves, I knew that they were there all along. I find myself wondering how elements over time have given rocks their shapes. These were deeply gashed in places and actually looked a bit precarious, like piles of blocks that might tumble over at any second. I wouldn't want to be standing beside them when we got a rare Maryland earthquake.

And yes, the dork to the right of the picture, staring at the rocks, is me!

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Shortly, after, we reached the Falls. Unlike Swallow Falls (the State's largest waterfall) they are cascading waterfalls and so it's hard to get a picture of the whole thing. We did our best with the different sections though.

The Falls--as we expected--were crowded...and with the sorts of people who step outdoors for a purpose other than walking to their car at most once per year. The falls were best accessed by crossing the river and climbing a rock face. Coming from a somewhat neurotic family, I was nervous about climbing the rocks. Bobby had already scrambled up, and I said, "I don't think that I can do it."

It was just enough of a fall that I could hurt myself if I lost grip. And the rocks were very smooth, without handholds. I wubbled. I really wanted to go up.

So I put one foot up, just to see what it felt like. Then two feet...and I slowly began to climb. I slipped...but didn't fall. Then I was at the top and the worst was over! Until coming down again, that is.

We climbed up the falls, taking pictures along the way.

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Naturally, I had to yell at Bobby periodically to be careful on the rocks and close to the edge. Well, it's an improvement over when we hike to the King and Queen's Seat at Rocks State Park and I won't even let him within five feet of the edge!

But here's proof that I did it: Dawn with the Cunningham Falls in the background.

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And my handsome husband:

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And the two of us together, taken by a friendly fellow up on the rocks with us:

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This one made Bobby go, "Awwww...it's the 'gund!" last night while we were looking at the pictures. (Yes, he calls me the 'gund...and Felak too!)

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Then came the process of climbing down, which took me a while while I had my pride handed to me by a bunch of kids who made easy work of it. I kept imagining how I was going to explain a broken leg to my skating instructor, since our show is on Wendesday. But I made it down without even a scratch. Next time, it will be easier. And--as I told Bobby--in twenty years, he can hope that I've cured myself of neuroticism altogether.

Bobby had packed a lunch of bagel chips, cheedar cheese cubes, and apples, so we walked back to the picnic area and had that. It was about 3:30, and we decided that it was probably a little too late to start the ambitious hike up to Cat Rock that we'd planned. We'd spent longer at the Falls than expected. Also, the Cat Rock hike is a seven-mile hike rated "difficult"...and with a two-hour skating rehearsal the next morning and a show on Wednesday (not to mention that my hip has been hurting again), we both thought it best to save it for another time.

So, instead, we went canoeing!

I'd been in a canoe once in my life before: at the age of nine, at the Beechmont Christian Day Camp in Kingsville. (Yes, Dawn went to a Christian Day Camp. No, the place did not burn down the moment that she stepped through the gates.) I was the second least popular girl in my camp group, so naturally, my canoeing partner was the least popular girl in the camp group, and I think that we managed to row about three feet before giving up and trying our lucky with the pedal-boats instead.

It took Bobby and I a few minutes to get the hang of the best way to work together as a team, but then we were off and good to go! We did most of the perimeter of the lake, and Bobby got some nice pictures of the lake with the Catoctin Mountains in the background.

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This one is my favorite because you can see the shadows of the clouds moving over the mountain. There is something fascinating and beautiful about watching cloud-shadows move on mountains.

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And Bobby in the canoe:

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And Dawn in the canoe (with her crooked sunglasses on--don't laugh!):

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It was a great afternoon, and we're already planning to go back and do the Cat Rock hike, as well as check out the boat rentals at our more-local Patapsco Valley State Park to go canoeing again.
  • Looks like you had fun, I still have to e-mail you the pics from our day out:p
    • Yes, please do, when you get a chance! :)

      Btw, Bobby and I are watching Episode III and at the part where Anakin flies out of bed from a nightmare, I totally thought of you. ;)
      • Anakin=yummy:)

        Actually, I have a card that I bought for you and I'm going to send you a picture CD instead, complete with our pictures from that Saturday along with other pics of the babies.:)
  • YAY! I could look at piccies all day! And, gol dang, you're cute, girl! And hub is too...

    Huggles
    • *giggles*

      That's a mighty fine icon you have here! :-)
    • *huggles back* Thank you! :^D

      You might regret saying that when we get back from Puerto Rico with a digital camera bursting with pictures of every ant, bird, and grain of sand between San Juan and our resort.... ;)
  • I like the one in the canoe. You look like you wanna say: okay now where is Maedhros, he said he would be here and peddle with me to the middle of the lake and have a picknick there...

    Lovely pictures, thanks for sharing :)
    • I like the canoe one too! Crooked sunglasses and all. ;)

      Given Maedhros' track record with events involving water and boats, I left him home that day! ;)
  • (no subject) - callirhoe
    • You look sooooo much like my boss in that second picture. o.O

      Hehe...well, unless you work for Maryland Parole and Probation, I can assure you that I'm not!

      (And if I am, please let me know: If I supervise people, I can move up to Research Analyst II and get a pay raise! :^D)

      And that looks like it was a monstrously fun day! That's a beautiful lake... :-D I'm a canoe/kayak/windsurf counselor at the YMCA camp I work at, so I'm in and around the water all the time, and that particular water looks fantastic. *loves water*

      How cool! I love water too, though I hadn't been out in a canoe since the age of nine. But we loved it, and when we went to Sunny's the next day to buy a knife to taking hiking and diving in Puerto Rico, my husband was seen checking out the prices of kayaks.... ;)
  • Oh, that's some nice photos! And it looks as if it was a fine warm day, too... *grumbles something about rain over here*

    There is something fascinating and beautiful about watching cloud-shadows move on mountains.

    There certainly is! When I was in Italy (can you tell I'm obsessed about Italy?) we were in Volterra, a small town perched on a rock above the hills of Tuscany. I remember there was a place where you could look down from the city walls and see the shadows of the clouds move over the fields. It was fantastic. (I shall have to look if I find a photo of that somewhere on the net...)

    It is my nature-snob's opinion that no "trail" lined with gravel or containing fences to keep hapless walkers from falling over the side should count as a trail. If you're not getting your boots sucked off in mud, ducking under fallen trees, and possibly tramping through dung, then you're not really hiking.

    I think you would like the teacher I had when I was in school. He used to take our class hiking/biking/canoeing/whatever several times and we somehow managed to end up in extreme situations every time. Once we ended up in a snowstorm and I literally had icicles growing from my face. It was always funny, though. ;)
    • It's been flat-out hot over here, with temperatures getting close to 40C...and humid. Yech. Gotta love Maryland summers!

      But I'll take that over cold, miserable weather any day...just as long as we have air conditioning in the apartment. Last year, when the temperatures soared, we discovered that our unit wasn't working. Great timing. o.O

      I remember reading the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder as a kid (I used to fangurl them like I now fangurl the Sil) and she would always talk about the cloud-shadows moving across the prairie and I was so disappointed that it didn't work in my backyard. I'm glad to appreciate them now on the mountains.

      (And when I visit Italy someday, if I end up in Volterra, I will look for it there too! ;^D)

      As for hiking disasters, I think that I could do without icicles on my face. ;) I took Trail Hiking for phys ed credit in uni and our instructor used to give us "challenges," most of which I never did because they involved climbing up things or crossing high places on logs and I'm neurotic when it comes to things like that. ;) That's about as extreme as I've been while adventuring in the Great Outdoors.
      • But I'll take that over cold, miserable weather any day...just as long as we have air conditioning in the apartment.

        I long for some warmth over here. We have about 10°C, far too cold for June. The only bad thing about some heat would be the fact that I do not have air conditioning at all, and my apartment faces south. So when it starts getting really warm all I'll wear is loose skirts and bikini tops, and I'll need a cold shower every morning. But I'm so tired of being cold right now. :--/

        And when I visit Italy someday, if I end up in Volterra, I will look for it there too! ;^D

        I bet you'd like it. And - among us - they have fantastic ice-cream there, too! :-D
        • I seem to remember the ice cream being mentioned in a post of yours...? I will definitely have to keep that in mind!

          10C?! Yech! Thanks for making me grateful for our typical hot, muggy Maryland summer! ;)
          • I seem to remember the ice cream being mentioned in a post of yours...?

            Probably. I seem to obsess about Italy practically all the time. ;)
  • Oh, that was great! The pics are awesome, just awesome. Wow--after reading the post and looking at the photos, I felt as if I had gone on that hike and canoed too! *whew* How exhausting!

    LOL!

    And you guys are, of course, adorable and so cute and huggable!

    {{{{{Hugs to you both!!!}}}}}
    • *hugs back from both of us!*

      I expected to be sore the next day, yet I wasn't. I must be stronger than I thought. ;) Well, my hip hurt but that hurts no matter what I do!

      We had all intentions of really pushing our limits but my skating show being three days away (and a two-hour practice at 9 the next morning) daunted us.

      Now I can't wait to go back!
  • From the looks pf it, you've had a fabulous time. The pics are great and the both of you look just like Jenni says: cute, huggable and sweet together. Even you, with your crooked glasses on! ;) I love going hiking and I always tend to stray from the "easy" trails, because I like to explore and get away from the noise and what-not of other people in the area.

    And water... *sigh* Was that lake's water cold? Because it looks so great that I'd have taken a bath, myself. *loves water*

    I'm so glad you shared all those pics with us. Not only do they show the awesome places you went to, but also you and Bobby. It's nice seeing you guys. I feel like I know you a little better this way.

    I WISH YOU TH BEST OF LUCK FOR TONIGHT'S SHOW AND I'LL KEEP MY FINGERS CROSSED, WAITING FOR AN UPDATE ON HOW IT WENT. {{{{Dawn}}}}
    • The lake had a section roped off for swimming and there were lots of kids in the water, so I don't know how cold it was. Probably cold. Kids will swim in anything and we'd had less than a week of hot weather at that point.

      (I stuck my hand in the river at the falls, and that was very cold. And kids were playing in it nonetheless.... ;^D)

      I had to gently remind Meryth that it is not our people's custom to strip and bathe in rivers and lakes in public parks. Otherwise, I would have been getting a call from the local police to come bail out my Elf from jail on Indecent Exposure charges!

      Bobby and I don't like hiking near other groups. We will linger to let others pass and get ahead of us, then continue on. And now that we've been hiking for about five years, we're getting more adventurous. (Plus, believe it or not, we're both in much better shape than we were five years ago!)

      As for pictures, you'll be seeing lots of us once we get back from Puerto Rico.... ;)

      The show went great and your update is coming! :^D
  • So, my computer hates me and is still having picture problems, so can you send me the links? Pwease?
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