Maryland Outdoor Club
Sun, Apr 23 2006 - Moderate Patapsco Valley State Park Hike (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): Jesse Allen
Participants:Jesse Allen, Kimberly Engle, Maria Maranto Dickey, Brian Loughery, Laura Loughery, Tom Reichelderfer, Ian Wright, Katie Wolffe, Mike Wolffe, Terrick Khan, Beth Feeser, Nikki Antonioli, Kate Copanic, Rob Copanic

Write Up:
If there was a keyword that captured the sense of our hike, it was “mud”. “Rain” and “floodwater” would rank up there too, though.

Our hike began with cool temperatures and a light grey overcast as we all gathered at the Park and Ride beside Patapsco Valley State Park. After introductions and a brief wait for a late arriver who never did arrive, we set out to the unnamed hinterlands area of the southernmost section of the park. Here we parked by the railroad culvert and took a path pioneered by ATVs up to the scenic overlook of Elkridge. However, the spring greenness had filled in so much that mostly we gave a lot of green… if you looked the right way. If you looked anywhere else, it was a jumble of discarded refrigerators, 55 gallon drums, glass, plastic, sinks, ovens, and a few cars and mattresses of vintages and places that made us wonder just how they got there in the first place. I mean, who takes their dead refrigerator for a half mile hike in the woods just to give it a nice green wooded place to rust out its last days?

After the short two mile or so loop over that hill, we went back to our next leg of the hike to the Halethorpe Ponds. Around this time, the grey skies decided to move along in their threats and it began to rain. We retreated under the I-895 overpass where we got to see an impressive if rather artificial waterfall that probably made the rain seem worse than it really was. After a brief break here for snacks, we continued on our waterlogged way, where the path was drowned in quite a number of deep puddles and a couple of the side tracks to get around the worse puddles were themselves underwater. When we reached the Patapsco River, it was a fast and chocolate coloured mess.

“Please tell me that is not our stream crossing!” remarked Kim. Fortunately it was not, but Tyler gave fording the river his attention none the less. Those of us still in rainjackets appreciated them when he climbed back out of the water and shood what he could off.

Instead our route over the river was a crossing on the Amtrak pedistrian grate by the tracks, and we headed up along the power line right of way towards the ponds, only to be faced with a long muddy hill with the shallow stream to cross at the bottom… and the shallow stream was shallow no longer. In fact at the shallowest spot, it was at least five feet or more deep, so after exploring as deep in as we could on our trail, we stopped for lunch, and turned back. Once we reached our cars after completely a few miles of hiking, about half the group decided to call it a day, but the rest of us decided to valiantly try to reach the Halethorpe Ponds from a different angle.

But it was not to be. When we got to the spot, we found two different places where to continue required fording a stream again of substantial depth. We did, however, spot an impressive black snake sunning himself, and get a brief glimpse of a beaver retreating from the raging torrent of the Patapsco River. Thwarted again, we headed home tracing back our original way into the park, only to find ourselves now thwarted by a serious car accident which blocked our access road completely. None the less, we found our way back to the carpool, shed what mud we could in changing shoes, and called it a day.

--Jesse Allen

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