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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Serenity in Suburbia. (Believe it or not, this lake is not real!)

In my last post about my hike to Sugarloaf, I started a theme upon which I would like to expand
this time. It is perfectly possible, at least where I live, to discover nature and get some peace and quiet, practically in your own backyard, not far from your home in suburbia. I am accustomed to traveling at least an hour or more to see the mountains, and because of this I have neglected perfectly nice places near my home. Indeed, my region is heavily forested, and there are parks in Rockville, my city. I shall show you one of them today. I took two trips to one of them recently. I made the two trips on Sunday evenings, one week apart.

My hike begins in the north of Rockville, near the border to Gaithersburg, near Muncaster Mill. The Meadowside Nature Center (not shown here) describes the flora and fauna of the region. Here we are in the upper part of Rock Creek Park

The Trail starts innocently enough at the top of a hill in the middle of the forest, near the parking lot for the Meadowside Nature Center...

The trail winds its way through the forest and downhill.

There are several branches and ways that the trails wind, but there are two basic directions that you can go, which intersect at a couple of points. This creek is at the bottom of the hill, and follows the Sleepy Hollow Trail.

The first way which I will show you was from my first hike – you can go out of the forest and into a meadow area, which will get you views of the meadows and more open land areas. From this view of the creek, you turn right, and then turn left to cross the bridge in the photo below.

The trail leads you out of the forest to the meadow. This area is more open. I was able to feel the summer heat more here , but it was peaceful, especially in the late afternoon and early evening.

This next area over is next to a farm...

Further down, you see a pond...

This view is further back near the Nature Center. Next to the Nature Center is the Lathrop E. Smith Outdoor Education Center, and this forest of Evergreens is in the back part of the Smith Center. When I was a child I stayed overnight here on several occasions. It was in part due to this place that I learned to love and appreciate nature.

On my second hike to this park, I visited Lake Frank, the other major feature of this park. I went back to the creek at the bottom of the hill and crossed it at a different point this time.

The creek snakes on through...

and eventually becomes wider and opens up into Lake Frank....

The path winds its way through the forest around the lake.

By the time I saw this last view it was starting to get dark, and I found the trail that took me back to Meadowside Nature Center.

I do not show it in these photos, but Lake Frank is artificial. It is a reservoir, and there is an artificial hill with a concrete monstrosity in the water in front of it that shows this. However, I chose to ignore that, because the rest of the lake looks natural and very peaceful. I was less than ten miles from my home in suburbia, but it felt farther, and after my walk I felt better.

On this walk I met a couple from Shanghai, China, and a couple from Augsburg in Southern Germany. It was the first time in a while that I had practiced my German, but we did not have time to chat long because it was already getting dark.


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