Our original plan was to have a mellow day today and I don't know if was the extra hour of sleep or whatever but we wound up packing in a day of diverse adventures: hiking a bit of the Appalachian Trail, visiting a Crystal Cavern, and then doing a little hiking in an out-of-the-way Maryland County Park named the Devil's Backbone. It was another beautiful, crisp autumn day here in western Maryland.
We started off east on I70 from Hagerstown because we had noticed a George Washington Monument State Park sign on our frequent back-and-forths on that highway. The park featured a stone tower at the summit which had incredible views. You could actually see West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Virginia from the top of the tower, which was accessible via a cool stone winding staircase. Unbeknownst to us, the park was also crossed by the Appalachian Trail so we hiked north along that for a bit and then hiked back south to the park. Best trail exchange: Me: "How much farther to you want to go?" Wendy: "Doesn't this loop back to the parking lot?" Me: No, it ends in Maine"
On the way out to George Washington Monument, we saw a sign for Crystal Grottoes Caverns, so we stopped in there on the way back for a cool tour. The cave was discovered in 1920 when they was blasting away some rock for the Boonsboro Turnpike which, incidentally, was the first macadam road in the United States. The grandfather of the current cavern owner (pictured above with his real sweet dog) happened to be building a barn nearby and convinced the property owner to commercialize the find. It's been in operation ever since. Unfortunately, they don't allow photography inside and I could see Wendy's trigger finger itching through the entire tour. The caverns are relatively small (they're still excavating new passages and rooms) but there is a staggering amount of beautiful formations inside. The caverns are just south of Boonsboro in lovely rolling farmland so Wendy was able to fully exercise her love of cows. Hey, Photographically! The lanky spelunker who guided the tour tipped us off to a scenic County Park nearby so we headed there next. One of the other persons on the tour lived in Harper's Ferry and said we should check that out also. Western Maryland, is there anything you can't do?
Devil's Backbone is a scenic little park with a wide low dam that appears have had a mill on it sometime in the past. The rapid water below the dam looks like it might have some trout in it. Of course, that's an amateur opinion since I haven't touched a fishing pole since I was about 7 years old. But it looked like a trout stream to me: cold, fast, and dark.
-Gerry (text, photos of Wendy) & Wendy (photos)