Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Frigid Temperatures and Flowers in the Frederick Watershed

When we arrived at the trailhead on Gambrill Park Road northwest of Frederick, MD, it was 37 degrees, windy, and sort of misting.  It wasn't enough precipitation to really call it rain, but it wasn't really dry, either.  In spite of that, we were going to look for flowers that our friend had seen a couple of days before.  When it wasn't 37 degrees.  I did not have much hope that there would be any flowers left, but with the weather calling for rain most of the day, I didn't want to drive very far to hike either. 

We were accompanied by our friend's dog, who made an excellent hiking guide for the area.  She made a point of keeping the group together and usually chose the right trail when we came to an intersection.  When she wasn't chasing sticks into the water, she was a rather impatient hiker.  If we stopped to take pictures, she would start whining to urge us on. 

We ended up hiking a total of 13 miles on the Catoctin Trail, the trails around Sand Flat, and a few roads.  It turned out to be a fairly decent day.  The rain held off until late afternoon, although the sun never came out.  The leaves on most trees are just starting to turn, but a few species, like blueberries are already bright red.  In spite of the cold, we saw a lot of flowers, including several I had never seen before.  Best of all, very few other people were out hiking or mountain biking in what is normally a very busy area. 

Pictures (click to enlarge):
Our canine guide.  She is very motivated by Clif bars.
A small waterfall near the Catoctin Trail.
One of the many ponds along the route.
Eupatorium hyssopifolium (Hyssop-Leaved Boneset). 
Two tiny red mushrooms on a bed of moss.
 Headed towards Fishing Creek Road.
Symphyotrichum laterifolium (Calico Aster). 
Hiking north towards the Catoctin Trail.  One of the challenges of the Frederick Watershed is that there are so many social trails, it can be difficult to determine if an intersection is really the one you are seeking.  Good practice navigating.
 An overlook on the east side of the Frederick Watershed.
Conoclinium coelestrum (Mist Flower)
Symphyotrichum racemosum (Small White Wood Aster) on Gambrill Park Road.
Rudbeckia hirta (Black-Eyed Susan).
Asclepias syriaca (Milkweed) pods on the Gambrill Park Road.

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