Saturday, May 18, 2013

Morning Hike in Patapsco Valley State Park

Friday I took today off of work and started my day bright and early.  I started by enjoying a strawberry banana protein shake on the balcony with a back issue of Elle.  These magazines always seem to pile up before I can read them!  (I'm not too far behind - this one's only from March.)
Mid-morning I headed out to go on a hike in Patapsco Valley State Park.  The weather was perfect for hiking with a cool breeze and bright sunshine.  Of course once I got about 15 minutes and my hike the cool breeze meant nothing because I was already all sweaty.  I hiked a trail I'd done a number of times called the Switchback Trail which runs in a little over 4 mile loop around this area of the park.

The trail starts not so much as a hike but just as a walk through the woods following a flat, sandy path.  After a while the trail splits and I took the high ground option which was a series of switchback trails up a tall hill.  After not too long the trail fork met back up with the main trail down by the Patapsco River. 

Other times doing this hike I've seen tons of deer, toads, and other wildlife, but there wasn't much to see on this particular trip.  Though I did see this giant spider - trust me, the picture doesn't do it justice! 
After a while I started seeing tons of huge turtles along the river sunning themselves on logs and rocks. I first noticed them when I heard an animal in the bushes run away from me as I passed on the trail.  At first I thought it was a squirrel until I heard it plunge into the water and realized it must've been the fastest turtle ever.  

Then I started seeing them everywhere including this little one hiding in the bushes.
Before long the trail started quickly up the hill with a staircase and then a series of switchbacks that soon put you high above the river.  (Seeing "foot traffic only" signs is never a good sign - if a bike can't do it, I probably don't want to either!) 

After a few more grade changes going up and down the hill the final ascent put you in the picnic and parking area of this part of the park.  I stopped at a picnic bench to grab some water and snack on left over movie treats.  
And of course to enjoy the biggest perk of visiting any State Park: the bathroom, actually stocked with toilet paper and soap!
The hike ended up taking me just under two hours, leaving me with the rest of the afternoon for other errands.  And apart from seeing someone giving another person oral sex just as I emerged into the parking lot (yeah, that was surprising ... I don't think they even noticed me as I quickly walked by diverting my eyes), it was the perfect way to start the day!  (And I bet you're glad I didn't take a picture of that!) 

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