I decided to take Roland and Zoe hiking at Gunpowder Falls State Park. After an hour drive down 40, I was in Joppatown MD. I picked them up and headed out to the park using my GPS. The first attempt to reach the park was not a success. It ended up being the beach section, which closely resembled Cape Henlopen. There was a small trail we hiked that traversed through a swamp. We met a family that was celebrating a graduation from law school. They were quite friendly and happy. Over the next few hours of driving through the park, we could not find the place we were looking for.
Two hours later, with much aggravation and frustration, we arrived at Big Gunpowder Falls River. We parked and headed out. It was a nice 1.1 mile walk along the river. Let me come back to finding this park for a moment. Apparently, there are multiple entrances in multiple sections. The park is not one sole park. It’s made up of many small disconnected parks, each with its own address. Since it’s in Maryland, it’s not labeled very well either. I literally drove around for two hours trying to find the central section. To make matters worse, the map the state issued is absolutely absurd. Not only was it not drawn to scale, it didnt even have a compass, so trying to figure out which road went which direction was a thrill. Finally, the icing on the cake,was that the road names on the map didn’t match the ACTUAL road names. I got so frustrated I decided to head home. On the way home, I passed over 95 and thought to myself “OK. One last time.If not, we go home.” As luck would have it, BINGO.
Now this park had one small lot, and an even smaller overflow lot. Both of which were very full. I parked, got the dogs ready, and headed out. This scenic walk along the river was flat and fairly quick moving with the occasional stream or fresh spring to hop over. I must have passed a dozen or so groups of people. This was definitely a popular area. While on the main trail, I took a small offshoot to avoid the heavy foot traffic. I happened upon a large hollowed out tree that was big enough to fit inside. With very little coaxing, Roland was inside with me, sniffing around. After taking a picture with my best buddy, we headed back to the trail. This trail then came to a stream crossing that was more than ankle deep. While watching all the other people try to step carefully on the rocks, the dogs and I reached a different idea together, as if there was a link among us. We crossed, not caring about getting wet. The rest of the trail was like the first half; cluttered with people and pets.
The trail head came to a fork. To the left; an overlook. To the right, potrocks. Easy decision. Left we went, up the steep rocky hill to the overlook. Guess what we saw when we got to the top? More people, how exciting. The trail took a nice quiet turn from there into the woods. From here, it was just me and the dogs, all by ourselves. We hiked for another half hour before it was evident that that Roland and Zoe were tired and hot. After a short water break, we headed back. On the way, we came across a trail branch that said “Potrocks”. At this point, I was thinking “Why not?” So off we went, and after about 5 minutes, I immediately regretted the decision. This section of the trail was no wider than 6-8 inches, and overgrown with thorns, vines, and high grass. It was littered with roots and rocks, so definitely not easy going. It was so narrow that we had to walk single file. As we headed down the north face of the trail, it seemed to open up at the end in the river bank. It was so thick, it was almost dark. I broke through the end of the trail, and was blinded by the light and openness of the river bank.
As my eyes adjusted to the light, that’s when I saw her. She was sunbathing on a rock in the middle of the river. Her skin, golden brown, glistened in the sun as the light danced across her playfully. Her long slender legs draped along the large, flat rock. Her hair was the color of a dark wild rose. Today, she is the single most beautiful, remarkable thing I’ve seen. It’s as if in this point in time, she belonged on that rock, part of the river. I couldn’t help but stare, and take in the moment.
I was brought back to reality by a man’s voice bidding me “Hello!” He wore an Air Force hat, and we struck up a conversation about dogs, the service, and swimming. I removed the dogs packs, and we all swam for a little while, with him and his dog. When we finished, I decided to tie them up, next to this large rock that they could lay on, and dry off. We sat there for a moment, just watching the river. As I was taking in the amazingly scenic view, I noticed the beautiful woman coming over. She gracefully walked over to me and said hello. We immediately became lost in conversation. We talked about everything, as she loved on the dogs. We exchanged names, and she asked if I was coming back the next day. I told her I was. As we left, I told her I would see her tomorrow. The dogs and I headed out, and I thought to myself, “these days are the days I’ll never forget.”