by Caitlin Finnerty
August 04, 2011
“Video guy” Matt and I hop in his truck one Monday morning. It is 85 degrees outside (and it’s only 9 a.m.), and although an air conditioned office can offer some relief, Matt’s idea sounds much better. Today’s adventure? Chasing waterfalls. (That’s right, just like that TLC song, circa 1995).
Annapolis has plenty of water, but most of it is too still and too calm (although, as a newcomer to the area, I am constantly surprised by the number of bridges I cross on my daily errands). We are headed to Cunningham Falls State Park in the Catoctin Mountains, an area just where the farmland surrounding Route 15 meets the Appalachians.
Before I know it, we have left the bustle of the DC-Baltimore-Annapolis area behind and we are climbing up a hill so steep that other hikers are using some sort of ski-pole-like device to help them grab the terrain. Gigantic rocks surround us on both sides. They were probably formed during some Ice Age, Matt and I decide – a dramatic environmental event that has left its remnants for us to climb! It’s not long before I am covered in sweat.
Eventually, the terrain levels out and we hear the sound of water…running water!
I rush towards it, following Matt down the path. He stops me short, making a SHHH! signal. He is taking photos of two pileated woodpeckers. The birds are larger than I had expected, and there are two them, pecking away at a log. It is a rare opportunity for me to run into a creature in its natural state like this, and we shoot away (with the camera, that is).
We are joined by others at the falls, most of them children. I feel like one as I crawl up the gigantic rocks, which have been smoothed out by years of water running over them. The water is trickling down from somewhere I cannot see, but it is clearer than any water I’ve seen in a long time. I take off my shoes and soak it up. This beats air conditioning.
On our way home, we pass farm stand after farm stand, and with a little bit of memory from my college days (Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md.) and a little luck, we find our way to a few local orchards. One displays a “calendar” of pears and apples that are scheduled to appear; I make note of “pink lady” and promise the lady selling us peaches that I will be back.