Stepping Back in Time - A Day-Hike in Morgan Run NEA - Part One

I love going outside. It really doesn't matter the setting as long a nature is all around. I like hearing the sounds of life all around me...not the hustle and bustle of machinery. The activity doesn't matter too much either, I like hunting and fishing, hiking and camping, geocaching, most anything that gets me out amongst nature. I also love taking pictures of whatever I see while I am out. With that in mind, I plan to take two of my sons (my youngest son has a dentist appointment, he and I will go on another weekend) on a day-hike today (Monday) in the Morgan Run NEA (Natural Environmental Area), which is located in Carroll County, MD, just south of Westminster (the county capital). I have hiked there many times and I also fly fish on the stream (Morgan Run) that runs through the area. I just purchased a little Kodak digital camera for my oldest and my middle son will use the digital camera I pack along when I am out fishing or hunting, I of course, will be using my Canon Rebel Xti (I'd like the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III, but who can realistically afford it?).

There are the remains of an old farm on the property that I have photographed twice before now, about a year before I got my fancy DSLR. This farm is one of the main targets during the hike. There is something about the crumbling buildings that call me back there. Looking at them brings out thoughts of a “simpler” time with less technology getting in the way. A time before the hustle and bustle of daily life got so “hustley” and “bustley”. One of the buildings is an old wooden barn, the boards still hold on to their red color, that has a dated stone of 1938. The world was at war with the Nazis when it was built. The other, larger building was another barn of sorts, it is cinder block and poured concrete though with two huge concrete silos connected on the back end of it. I haven't seen any date on this building, but it does have an old electrical/fuse box on it. With what is left of the insides, I can't tell what it was used for, but it has metal “rails” that look like they could have been used as stalls. Maybe is was an old milking barn. Who knows? If you do, please post a comment letting me know, I'd really appreciate it.

Anyway, I hope for us to hike back there tomorrow, so that we can get some decent pictures of the dilapidated structures and with luck some decent wildlife photos. The place is crawling with deer, foxes, squirrels and other critters as well as many birds prey. Parts of the NEA are also open to hunting when it is in season (tomorrow starts the last week of the deer bow hunting season), and although we aren't going to the area where hunting is allowed, we are going to wear hunters orange vests just to be safe (our family motto for is “Do whatever is necessary to be safe at all times”, especially when we are going out away from the civilized world, you know, state parks and cities.). I may even get my fishing license in the morning and sneak along a fishing rod, so we can try to hook up with a trout or two.

One of the things I like about this particular NEA is the variety of environments located in such small area. There is a good bit of forest and most of the rest is open lands where the state allows the grasses to grow to their normal height with horse/hiking trails mowed throughout the area so you can easily walk around. There is also a pond called Tadpole Pond that is very small, but has a nice atmosphere about it, I imagine it could be frozen over right now, that would make for some nice pictures). There are several tiny streams that eventually flow into Morgan Run herself and they each offer a staggering variety of differences that attract many different kinds of life during the spring and summer, in the winter however, they seem rather empty with most small creatures hibernating or staying in their dens during this cold weather.

The hike will be slow paced and relaxing, we won't be in any hurry as we will have four to five hours to walk around. It may also help us work off some of the “winter pounds” we have all put on. We are going to start out at about 9:30 or 10:00 in the morning. We will eat a picnic lunch sometime during the walk and just enjoy having nature all around us. If we get done in the main section with sometime left, I may even take them over to the handicapped access ramp on the other side of the NEA. The access ramp was built by the Patapsco Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited, so people who are wheelchair bound could have easy access to fish on Morgan Run. The area on this side of the NEA has a nice hiking trail along the stream and there are some good places to take pictures of the little “waterfalls” that occur along the stream.

I just looked at the weather report on WeatherBug. They are now calling for a good chance (70%) of snow on Tuesday and Wednesday. I may have to be late for work on one of these days, so I can get some good pictures of the stream while it is snow covered! That would be fantastic!!!

Well, that's all for now. Keep safe and warm until next time, and above all, enjoy life as much as you can.


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