Happy New Year! I took a “first day hike in a state park” on my own with my partner Flash and our dog, Odaat. I love visiting our state parks and North Point is probably my favorite. At least it is the one I frequent the most, especially because I swim in the Chesapeake Bay there often throughout open water swim season between April and October.
This “first day hike" was a chance to reflect upon how much I love to be in the woods and by the water and how fortunate I am to have open space that is preserved and public. Do you visit our state parks? Do you have a favorite?
I brought my camera and shot from Ferry Grove Trail out to where sunken barges rest looking like gigantic whales tails at the end of what used to be a pier where ferry boats brought city folks to spend a day at a beach and amusement park.
The sunken barges are what I aim for and spot off of when I get into the water at the beach further down shore, swim out and then decide whether to go left or right, depending upon the current and the wind direction.
I shot from the long crystal pier where one could promenade out hundreds of yards in the Bay Shore Park heydays when bathers, amusements, restaurants, and entertainment were all part of a long day’s experience folks had by taking the trolly out of the city and returning home in the evening for a round trip ride that cost thirty cents.
The crystal pier today is falling apart but is easily walkable and usually always enjoyed by people fishing off the end or sides. From there on a clear day one can see the Bay Bridges, the Eastern Shore, Pasadena and Hart-Miller Island.
The park is just outside the mouth of the Patapsco River and I know how far out you have to swim before you can spot Key Bridge which is not visible from the park itself and I know this because I have swam across the Patapsco a number of times, either from Venice on the Bay to North Point State Park or visa versa.
So, yes, the park and water there have special meaning for me, too.
In my last swim venture event there that included raising funds for watershed groups and having a water safety support team, I hopped into a Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel at North Point State Park and was taken down to North Point, the land marked off of Fort Howard directly across the river from Fort Smallwood, spread my mother’s ashes and swam up to the mouth of the Back River by the Craighill Channel marker that looks like a rocket, got back into the boat and came ashore again at North Point State Park where I was greeted by watershed activists who had a picnic in the rain under the trolly barn and then everyone waded into the water.
I picked up a copy of Gunpowder Currents today. That’s the official newsletter of Gunpowder Falls and North Point State Parks, where I read about how wildlife anticipates weather, the graduation ceremony for 280 at-risk youth at the end of their Conservation Job Corps job program, the damage done by Irene and Lee to park trails and volunteer opportunities for citizens to support the struggling park system.
I also took pictures of the drift wood that has washed ashore during these and other storms. I always want to bring drift wood home I guess because I want to keep the park and the water close to me.
Now that I am in my sixties my park experiences are free. I just waive my Golden Age pass!
To learn more about our parks, visit www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/central/gunpowder.html or www.northpointstatepark.net