This past weekend, Mark looked up a map of Western Maryland and began searching. He looked for a place we had never been and eventually settled on a spot on the Appalachian Trail, near the Washington Monument. We filled our camelbacks with water, grabbed Solo's harness, packed a few granola bars, and headed out.
As Mark pointed out once we were on the road, Google had described the Washington Monument as being "off of 40." While I felt this to be a somewhat vague set of directions, Mark had full confidence in his ability to get us there in one piece. After all, it was a beautiful Saturday morning, one with a gentle breeze, a mild sun, and plenty of green country to walk through--what was the rush?
We found out later that we certainly took the long drive to the park: a winding, lazy way through back country, pastures, and corn fields. But, I'm glad we lost our directions, even for just a little while. How else would we have found the hidden spots where tiger lilies, black-eyed Susans, and Queen Anne's lace grow wild? How else would we have seen the two fawns, already bereft of their baby spots, dash into the roadside thickets? How else would we have seen the quiet, farmland ponds and their drooping, covered bridges?
Sometimes it's worth it to toss the map and get good and lost. Well, lost with a general sense of where you're going.
Without much incident, we found ourselves at Washington Monument State Park, the site of a beautiful dry-stacked stone tower, the first monument erected to our first President. Built long before the sleek white one standing sentinel in Washington, D.C.
Although the hike from the parking lot to the tower itself is essentially a short stroll, the Appalachian Trail skirts the tower's base. So, after poking around the tower (which reminded me of a super-sized clay chiminea), Mark and I headed north on the trail. We passed several weekend hikers, groggy and dirty in their packs and boots but ready with a nod and smile. Solo had a tail-wag and finger-lick for each of them.
At an open stretch of trail, I found several wild blackberries growing on the trail edge. The fattest juiciest berries were hidden deep within the bushes' thorns and folds, further than I was willing to dig. But the handful I was able to forage tasted better than any store-bought berries I've had all season. Their bursts of juicy sweetness and later my purple-stained fingers reminded me of Georgia summers and home.
We've been so lucky with our summer weather lately. The mild breezes and warm sunshine belies the fact that it's early August and tempts us with thoughts of October, crunchy leaves, and fall. I know this perfect, mild weather is only here for a little while and that summer will soon roar back in full force, but we enjoyed being out in the coolness while it lasted. Summer, you're spoiling me; why don't you stick around a little longer?