Today, we headed out to our volunteer area for our last level walk of 2013, It was a strangely beautiful day, with an odd combination of light rain and fog that was offset by an unseasonable temperature in the mid-sixties. We encountered one passerby in a car at Fifteen Mile Creek, but, other than that, we were completely alone for the better part of 3.5 hours, or nine miles. That’s rare, even in one of the more remote sections of the C&O.
It seems like the warm weather wasn’t enough to awaken any prospective hikers from the spell of the recently melted snow. Nevertheless, a good samaritan did come along at some point and pick up the fallen trash bag box at the Indigo Neck hiker/biker campsite. There were a couple of fallen limbs and about a half bag of trash, so we did accomplish something. Even so, there was plenty to think about and lots of time for doing it. As the park is concerned, my New Year’s resolutions are to stay in one of the lockhouses and do at least a couple of hikes in Georgetown. I’ve biked below Mile Marker 12 several times, but I can’t say that I’ve ever hiked it. Winter might be the perfect time to beat the crowds. We’ll see. One way to kill both birds with one stone would be to spend the night in Lockhouse 6. That would be the perfect spot for a long round-trip trek all the way to the end of the line.
Yes, I suppose this is the right time of the year for daydreaming and resolutions, but there’s always today, and today turned out to be a great day for a hike. Off in the distance, we counted four deer. They were more spooked than usual but that’s probably a result of Maryland’s recent deer season. Beavers are also very active around Indigo Neck, although we haven’t been lucky enough to see one, and that spans approximately thirty hikes in this area in a four or five year period.
Honestly, every time Candee and I hike between Pearre Station and Little Orleans, I think running into a beaver is a distinct possibility. But a snake on the 22nd of December? The garter snake pictured above is one of the largest I have ever seen, and it had a personality to match. It struck at us on three different occasions–completely unprovoked, unless you consider the fact that I was in its mug trying to get a picture. I suppose you could say that seeing this unpleasant chap was a pleasant surprise–just not for the snake. After snapping a couple of pictures, we walked away, and this cold-blooded rascal was nowhere to be found when we headed back down the trail.
Looking back, 2013 appears to have been a mixed bag along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. There was a closure downstream from the Paw Paw Tunnel because of falling rocks, and the park itself was closed for sixteen days because of government cutbacks. However, I do feel fortunate to have a national park twenty minutes from where I live, and I’m going to continue to try to convince everybody that it’s just as cool as Yosemite or the Grand Canyon. That’s a tall order! In the meantime, we’re going to try to see and write about places that we’ve missed up to this point, and there’s also a great blog or two that we regularly follow. When all is said and done, 2014 should be a great year on the canal. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to one and all!