Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Ride on Skyline Drive and a Walk in Patuxent Wildlife Refuge

We have another big bike trip planned this year, so Saturday, we did our first mountain ride of the year on Skyline Drive. The weather couldn't have been better: bright, sunny, and highs in the 70s at higher elevations. We didn't realize it was a fee-free weekend in Shenandoah National Park, but we should have know because we got the last parking place in the lots just before the north entrance. There was definitely more traffic than usual and there were more cyclists than usual. We chatted with one of the fee station rangers that we know at the end of the day and he said they had nearly 50 cyclists ride through that gate. In spite of all of the people, almost everyone was considerate on the road, so I really can't complain about the crowds.
Little Devils Staircase overlook  and Old Rag in the distance.
The bikes resting at the top of Hogback at milepost 21.
Looking south from Range View overlook at milepost 17. Spring is creeping up the sides of the ridges.
Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot). Pretty flowers are as good a reason as any to take a break from climbing hills.
Redbuds blooming with Compton Peak in the background.
Apple blossoms.

Sunday morning, we drove up to the north tract of Patuxent Wildlife Refuge near Laurel, Maryland. As often as we've visited and ridden in the south tract, we had never made it up there. It is so much quieter. We saw fewer than ten other people there. We were only there for a couple of hours because we needed to get some work done in the garden, but we definitely plan to go back and explore further.
 Bailey Bridge Marsh
Claytonia virginica (Spring Beauty)
 Mertensia virgnica (Virginia Bluebells)
A cool fungus on a downed log
 Erythronium americanum (Trout Lily)
 Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman's Breeches)
We were lucky enough to see an osprey. If you click and enlarge the photo, you can see it near the center of the photo. It isn't the best picture of an osprey that I've ever gotten.

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