Flew out of the city like bandit bears with a swarm of angry bees on our tails. At the top of a mountain, pitched the tent only to return an hour later to find another tent pitched next to it, despite the many other available sites nearby. It gets harder and harder to escape humanity. But, alas, this was not a backpack-into-the-middle-of-nowhere situation and, after all, on the first truly nice warm weekend of the spring after an unpleasantly cold winter, what can one actually expect. Surely not solitude with nature when still so relatively close to representations of civilization. Surely not the absence of every last vestige of human life. Surely not that. What one can expect, however, is depraved college-age youth yelling and carousing until the wee hours of the morning. Yes, one can count on one’s expectations in that regard to indeed be met. Even in the midst of such pure and innocent natural beauty, the horror of humanity awaits us.

I shoved all that to the back of my head, though, and we made the best of it. For example, I saw a Brown Creeper! I was excited about that. Chipping Sparrows engaged in esoteric mating rituals. Northern Flickers abounded. And on an isolated Sunday morning hike at Catoctin we met a couple of spry older men in training for their hike of Mount Kilimanjaro next month! It was a pleasure to engage in dialogue with such good folks, and it wove back together a few tattered shreds of our hope in humanity, which had been subjected to such vicious thrashing of late.

Bike parking at Catoctin:

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  1. Ah, yes. As usual, I completely understand. As development in our area has increased, the population has of course increased along with it and all the “secret” solitary places I used to go have now been overrun. Before most hikes or bike rides, I have to talk myself into accepting the fact that I’m going to be sharing the place with multitudes of other people who don’t have the same reverence that I do.Catoctin’s a perfect example. I’m glad you got up there at this time of year to see the woods coming back to life, before the hordes ascend upon summer’s approach. Did you camp up at Owen Creek?



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