Let me be your guide to hiking and nature!
Hiking is one of my favorite hobbies, and it is easy to understand why. It is my favorite way to escape from the drudgery and dreariness of my everyday life. It is a way to get some fresh air and a nice change of scene. Furthermore, it has been the basis of a number of my friendships over the years. When I meet people from other countries, I often show them around my region, and that includes trips to the mountains and other nature spots. My international friends are eager to explore a country that is new to them, and and I love sharing my home region with them. My local friends mostly are not interested. I have gone camping a few times over the years also, although I have not done that in many years. The images on this page are ones that I have taken over a period of many years, from the mid-1990s to the Present.
Here are a few of my trips with friends from other countries:
First Row, Left to Right: Fialka Grigorova on the summit of Hawksbill Mountain, Shenandoah National Park in Virginia; Fialka Grigorova and myself on the Hawksbill Mountain Summit.
Second Row, Left to Right: Fialka Grigorova on the beach at Sandy Point State Park near Annapolis, Maryland; Fialka Grigorova on Stony Man Mountain, Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.
Third Row, Left to Right: Peter Phillip on the beach at Elk Neck State Park, Cheseapeake Bay, Maryland; Tanja Vocke and myself at Chimney Rock, Catoctin Park in Maryland.
Fourth Row, Left to Right: Bernd, Stefan, and Olli-Pekka on the summit of Hawksbill Mountain, Shenandoah National Park; Walking through the woods at Catoctin Park.
The nature spots in my region are in several categories…I invite you to have a look and explore!
The immediate area of where I live is all lowlands, with creeks and forests. It is not very hilly. However, there are some very nice trails which are close by and easy to reach. In Maryland, my home state, there are no lakes in the usual sense (no natural lakes), but there are several reservoirs that are fed by local creeks. Several of them have forests around them, and there are some nature trails that are easy and quite pleasant, and are well worth exploring. Take a look at these places, and just imagine that when you explore them, you are only a few minutes away from the city I have spent many days wandering around them, and my father used to take me to them when I was a child. Great Falls Park, also shown here, is larger, more natural and is a National Park that includes the Potomac River and the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal beside it.
First Row, Left to Right: Lakeside path, Black Hills Regional Park; Sunset Gathering, Black Hills Regional Park; Forest Trail, Meadowside Nature Center near Rock Creek.
Second Row, Left to Right: Lake Needwood at Sunset; Lake Needwood at Sunset; Rock Creek Park.
Third Row, Left to Right: Grove of Evergreens, Seneca Creek State Park; Lake Clopper, Seneca Creek State Park; One of the residents of Seneca Creek State Park at Lake Clopper.
Fourth Row, Left to Right: Great Falls Park-Rapids of the Potomac River on the Maryland-Virginia border; Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal and towpath at Great Falls Park; Boulders on the water, Great Falls Park.
These parks are larger, wilder, and more remote. In my region, they tend to be found in Northern and Western Maryland, as well as the State of Virginia to the South. Most of them are natural, although Rocky Gap State Park and Deep Creek Lake are reservoirs that are hidden among the mountains of more remote Western Maryland. The Appalachian Trail goes through many of them (the trail that goes from Maine to Georgia), since it passes through Maryland and Virginia along the way. These parks are my favorites and are among the most spectacular. Have a look at these images!
First Row, Left to Right: From the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain in Barnesville, Maryland; View of the valley from the parking lot, Sugarloaf Mountain; The very first Washington Monument, Washington Monument State Park in Boonsboro, Maryland.
Second Row, Left to Right: From the top of the monument, Washington Monument State Park; Sun bursting through the clouds, Washington Monument State Park; Panorama, Sky Meadows State Park in Virginia.
Third Row, Left to Right: Partly up the hill, Sky Meadows State Park in Virginia; Frozen solid, Swallow Falls State Park in Western Maryland; Muddy Creek Falls, Swallow Falls State Park in Western Maryland.
Fourth Row, Left to Right: Swallow Falls, Swallow Falls State Park; Virgin forest, Swallow Falls State Park; Massanutten Mountain, George Washington National Forest, Virginia.
Fifth Row, Left to Right: Autumn colors at sunset, Green Ridge State Forest in Western Maryland; Top of the mountain, Green Ridge State Forest; Annapolis Rocks (near the Appalachian Trail in Maryland.
Sixth Row, Left to Right: Weverton Cliffs, Potomac River, near the Appalachian Trail in Maryland; Wolf Rock, Catoctin State Park (near Camp David, in Maryland); Chimney Rock, Catoctin State Park.
Seventh Row: Rocky Gap State Park in Western Maryland.
One of the parks, Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, deserves special attention. Skyline Drive, goes through the mountains for 105 miles (about 170 km), going up and down, and has many scenic views along the way. It is a long drive but well worth it. Take a look at these!
First Row, Left to Right: Sunset from Hawksbill Mountain, the highest point in the park at 4050 feet (1350 meters); Old Rag Mountain.
Second Row, Left to Right: View from Hawksbill Mountain; Skyline Drive from Little Stony Man Cliffs, Stony Man Mountain.
Third Row, Left to Right: Trees at the summit of Stony Man Mountain; Little Stony Man Cliffs.
Fourth Row: Isolation and desolation at Big Meadows in the middle of the park. Note: this place is right next to Skyline Drive, but it feels like it is extremely remote; View of Shenandoah National Park and the Shenandoah River, from the other side of Shenandoah Valley.
Parks on the Seashore
Obviously, these parks are completely different—they are in the Eastern part of Maryland, and are directly by the seaside and are flat. They are on the Chesapeake Bay, which divides Central Maryland from the Eastern Shore, and on the Atlantic Ocean. I go to them less often, but they are a very welcome change of pace. Check out these places!
First Row, Left to Right: Sandy Point State Park, on the Cheseapeake Bay near Annapolis, Maryland, with the Bay Bridge in the background; Elk Neck State Park, Cheseapeake Bay, northeastern Maryland near Delaware; Turkey Point Lighthouse, Elk Neck State Park, on the Cheseapeake Bay, Maryland.
Second Row, Left to Right: Chesapeake Bay, Elk Neck State Park, Maryland; Cheseapeake Bay from Elk Neck State Park; Assateague Island (Virginia side).
Third Row: Assateague Island (Maryland side), indigenous pony.
Note: the ponies on Assateague Island are a unique species found only on that island. How they got there and where they came from is a mystery!
In my opinion, cross-country (nordic) skiing is the ultimate winter sport, and I enjoy it more than I enjoy downhill (alpine) skiing. It combines the best elements of skiing and hiking, and I find it easier to deal with than downhill skiing in terms of managing my fear of heights. Once you know how to move on skis, you can move more quickly and efficiently than on your two feet alone, and cover a lot of ground. The images and I have here are from Canaan Valley, West Virginia, which is one of the best areas to go cross-country skiing here.
Top Left to Right: My friend Mason Callejas dons his ski equipment at the start of the trail; View of the parking lot and lodge at the bottom of the mountain, from the trail.
Bottom Left to Right: On the ski trail at Whitegrass; Panoramic view from the trail at Whitegrass.
Here is a video of my friend Mason Callejas, from when we went cross-country skiing together in December 2008.
If you want to go cross-country skiing or hiking with me, please do be sure to contact me! Also, I have more photos and videos of hiking and nature in my online galleries of YouTube, Google Picasa, and Ipernity. You can also view the Picasa and Ipernity galleries as slideshows if you want.