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Monday, March 28, 2016

Walking into the past

A different sort of bloom

All attention this weekend is no doubt focused on Washington, D.C.'s cherry blossoms, which are at the peak of their bloom. On a day as sunny and warm as yesterday (Saturday), many people made plans to visit the Tidal Basin to see the Somei-Yoshino ソメイヨシノ trees at their finest, and it wasn't surprising to see bumper-to-bumper traffic in the morning on Interstate 66 going into Washington. I, however, was headed in a different direction, having already seen the blossoms earlier in the week. My destination was Little Bennett Regional Park in Clarksburg, Maryland, a thirty-minute drive from my apartment complex. Though far from a challenging workout (I hesitate to even call it a "hike" as there was only one section that had any elevation or steepness to it), it felt good to be in the outdoors again, especially now that spring has arrived.

From the parking lot, a flat and wide trail led to an old schoolhouse named after one Luther King, who operated a whiskey distillery in the region. The building served as a classroom between 1893 and 1935:

From the schoolhouse, the walk proper commenced. Much of the initial route ran parallel to the clear waters of Little Bennett Creek:

Ignoring the yellow warning tape strung between two trees, I trespassed walked onto the Beaver Valley Trail, through a marshy area made wet by beaver activity and across a wooden bridge cross-crossed with more Do Not Cross tape. This soon led to the Mound Builder Trail and the following sign:

The nests referenced in the sign are built up in order to receive sunlight, which serves as incubation for the ants' larvae. There were a number of visible mounds along this trail, all of them teeming with ant activity, but proving difficult to photograph:

Crossing that meadow when I came to it:

A pine grove of dead trees would look fascinatingly eerie on a foggy morning, but in the bright afternoon sunshine, they appeared far from menacing. They were also alive with bird sounds, including one very active woodpecker hammering away at a trunk:

Most of the trails I used this afternoon were relatively flat:

Water on one side, shale boulders on the other:

Another historical relic. As the sign explains, the original mill was in operation between 1783 and 1918, when it was destroyed in a fire. A new building was quickly put up in its place and now serves as an arts center:

The adjacent miller's residence is still privately-owned and not open to visitors:

Notice anything missing in the below photo of Little Bennett Creek? How about a way to get across? No bridge or rocks acting as stepping stones meant the only way was to ford it on foot. The water wasn't deep but did go up to my ankles, resulting in a soggy walk the rest of the way back to the car:

It took a little less than three hours to cover 6.9 miles (11.1 kilometers):

The girls are due back from Taiwan this Tuesday, bringing an end to my temporary bachelorhood, a state of affairs I'll be glad to see pass. 

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