Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Snowy Antietam

Horizontal Tread invited Michael and I up to Antietam National Battlefield for an afternoon on snowshoeing on Sunday. While we didn't get any snow to speak of, they had 4-6 inches up there. That is just barley enough snow to use the snowshoes. In a perfect world, it is nice to have a foot of snow for snowshoeing, but we can't be too picky in the Mid-Atlantic. Opportunities to use them without driving three hours don't come along even every winter.

When we left the DC area, it was 45 degrees and sunny. I thought I would be snowshoeing in my base layer. It was colder in the Sharpsburg area, which wasn't a surprise, but the moment we arrived at Antietam, it clouded over and the wind picked up. I wound up needing a coat for the whole hike. We started on the the north side of the battlefield and made our way south across the cornfield. We passed several farms and stopped to have lunch on the porch of one of the houses that are part of the national battlefield.After lunch, we headed south, pausing to climb the Tower and then further south, all the way to Burnside Bridge. By the time we made it back to the car, the mood was up and the sun was below the horizon. One of the cool things about this hike was that we weren't really following any trails. We just set out across various fields, generally aiming for the next stop. 

Horizontal Tread was a great tour guide, providing context for what we were seeing. I don't know enough of the details of the battle to get into it beyond noting that more soldiers (on both sides) died that day than in any other single-day battle in the Civil War. Almost a quarter of the troops involved in the battle perished. A detailed account of it can be found here

 Looking southwest towards the observational tower, which was built in 1890.
One of the cannons in the Cornfield.
 A directional plate in the observational tower.
A dried seed pod in the snow.
Horizontal Tread (left) on interpretive duty.
 A snowy field in the late afternoon.
 Burnside Bridge.
A Red Bellied Woodpecker in a Sycamore Tree (click to enlarge).
 Monuments near the visitor center in the setting sun.
Moonrise over the fields near the visitor center.

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