Monday, April 13, 2020

A First Hike in Gunpowder Falls State Park

Two weeks ago, the stars looked to be aligning: the weather was going to be top notch, and our day free. We could finally get in some quality hiking! Because we wanted to practice smart social distancing, we opted for what appeared to be a low traffic hike: Little Gunpowder, Winterfell, Quarry Loop located in Gunpowder Falls State Park.

We arrived at the trail head to find cold and dreary conditions. On the plus side, the cruddy weather appeared to be keeping people away. Off we trekked into the wilderness, opting to take the hike uphill first to help us warm up.

For the first half of the hike we found the seclusion we were looking for. We saw no other hikers, and while the conditions remained cold and damp, they also served to enhance the scenery. With the mist, it felt like were in enchanted woods.

This was our little guy's first official hike and for the first couple of miles he slept right through it.

As we descended the Quarry Trail and re-joined the Little Gunpowder Trail we found ourselves with a choice: go left and log an out-and-back hike which would get us more miles and a chance to see a waterfall. Or go right and close out the loop we'd started. At this point, our 10 week old woke up and urgently asked where his next meal was. It also became clear that it wasn't going to warm up and that the 70+ degree temps we'd anticipated weren't coming. We hadn't expected to hike the full day in 50 degree weather, and weren't properly equipped for the day.

So we opted to close out the loop. We encountered a few families at this point, and I'm sure we looked like quite the sight: our little guy slurping down a bottle while we hustled back to a warm car.

All told we logged only 4.26 miles out of the planned 6.6. I got yet another hard won lesson in the need to closely watch the forecast and plan accordingly. I kick myself, because if I had planned for cold weather, we'd have almost certainly completed the full hike.

Still, I'm counting the hike as a success. We learned about a new state park to explore, our 10 week old got his first taste of the wilderness, and a number of gear choices were spot on. Mainly, I carried a large backpack which had food, our little one's diaper bag and my essentials, and Shira carried the kid and a small fanny pack with her essentials. At the last minute, Shira opted to use the Moby Wrap carrier instead of a Baby Bjorn one. The reasoning: the Moby does especially well in cold conditions. This turned out to be a smart move.

Later in the day Shira noticed this tweet from our trusted weather friends Capital Weather Gang:

And where's Gunpowder Falls State Park? Outside Baltimore. D'oh!

I look forward to getting back to Gunpowder Falls State Park and seeing this elusive waterfall.

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