Western Maryland. If you go expecting quaint, lovely farmland, you'll have a great weekend. If you believe the websites and go expecting 'the highest point in Maryland, the third highest waterfall, acres of virgin timber, hikes along a scenic river' and let your expectations rise, well, you might be a bit underwhelmed. If you also instruct your 'hiking partners' not to bring cotton clothing and to bring daypacks for extra layers and food for vigorous hiking, you may not only be underwhelmed, you may look like a super-intense hiking fool. The highest point was 3,360 feet and was a 1 mile hike up to a picnic table overlooking rolling farmland. The waterfall was lovely, but was encased by boardwalk trails and old folk in white tennis shoes. The virgin timber contained slow-growing, fairly slender hemlocks that just looked like lovely old pine trees without much underbrush. The best part for me was while my two companions journaled by the water, I found a nearby cliff and did some close to the ground rock-climbing. I miss climbing outside!
We stayed in a cozy 1940's log cabin with a wood stove, fully functional kitchen and bathroom, and comfortable beds. I'm hoping to go back in the winter with expectations properly adjusted and do some cross-country skiing. The parade was part of a Garrett County "Autumn Glory Festival". While munching on kettle corn and funnel cake we gleefully watched marching bands, Shriners in little cars, and "Red-Hat Brigades" (ladies over 50) from nearby towns and counties. I grew up watching fireworks more often than parades, but one of my friends was a small town girl and told us great stories about her years dancing in the local December parade (a typical Minnesota tradition)
I drove out with two friends from church. One of them, Stephanie, has ambitions to solo hike the Appalachian trail. She's also the one who only owns jeans and tennis shoes. I recommended she start by buying some hiking boots. At the end of the weekend, Gretchen turned to me and said, "I used to think I was an outdoor person, but after spending the weekend with you I've realized, I'm not." How did I go from being a girl who couldn't sleep if there were crickets outside the tent, to this?! It's all my husband's fault. (thanks, babe!)