Simple Adventures – Cunningham Falls State Park

Hey everyone!

With my weird schedule (six days on, three days off) I have plenty of time to plan cheap, local adventures and I try to have something interesting set up for every three day break (yay for permanent long weekends!) just to have something to look forward to at the end of day six when I’ve worked 68 hours (yay overtime!!).

Adventuring is a huge thing for me.  I define ‘adventuring’ as: Seeing or doing something interesting that you’ve never seen or done before.

The word ‘interesting’ prevents me from claiming that traveling to a new grocery store is an adventure.  (Unless it’s a specialty grocery store like a Korean grocery store or the first time I went to Whole Foods.) (I love Whole Foods.)

Besides being interesting, the adventure also has to be cheap (or really, really worth it) and preferably within an hour or two.  It can be anything from a pick your own fruit orchard, a historical site, a hike, an old town, a new activity like paddle boarding or a cooking class, to heading to a store to buy something interesting that I’ve gotten involved in like succulents or fountain pens.

Sometimes I’ll plan out the whole day, sometimes I’ll plan out one destination and see where it goes from there.

But we’ll talk more about that later!

Today I went to Cunningham Falls State Park in Thurmont, Maryland.  I was invited out there by a coworker who is having a baby soon and wanted to have a sort of last hurrah before he has to stay up all night and gets housebound.  (Kids are great and all but…)

His big plan was a hike up to some overlooks.  We go hiking together a lot and I bring my camera (because of my goal to win the county fair) so he specifically organized this hike around the overlooks.  Let me tell you, it was great.

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As usual, photos don’t really do nature justice.  It was a gorgeous day to be outside and there was hardly anyone else out on the trail.  We only ran into three other hikers and that was during the last half of the hike.

See that horizon?!  We could see to the end of the world!!  It was glorious!

Here’s a picture from another overlook, this one involving many more rocks.

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This photo was clearly not taken by me.  My coworker was sitting on the rocks to my left.  Isn’t that an amazing overlook!?  Getting up on those rocks was super hard but totally worth it.  There’s not a whole lot that feels as breathtaking as being in a stupid dangerous situation and having the wherewithal to get yourself out of it safely.  Climbing up to the top of the lookout was….sketchy.  But the results were phenomenal.  Caveat here where I have to tell all of you to be careful.  You make your own choices, you suffer your own consequences.  If you can’t do something, have the maturity to admit it and don’t get yourself killed.  It’s not my fault if you do.  Be.  Careful.

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This is another panorama of the woods we were hiking through.  Fern carpets everywhere.  The trees were so lush and green.  The first part of the hike was sort of steep (I mean, we were climbing to overlooks) but in the middle it was smooth, flat, and perfectly pleasant.

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This is us when we were in a good mood.  This is us before it started pouring down rain and we all got super soaked.

It started up on the rocks when we noticed the incoming clouds.  They were dark and ominous.  Plus we’ve been having daily afternoon rainstorms for about two weeks now so it wasn’t a surprise to see them.  As we started booking it down the hill there was this noise that sounded like wind blowing through the tops of the trees but then it just grew and grew as the rain fell through the canopy and became a deluge.  The path started flooding so we shoved our electronics into our backpacks and attempted to find a tree to shelter underneath.  Unfortunately all the trees were skimpy and we couldn’t find any place that would keep us sufficiently out of the rain so we decided to just live with it and started down the pathway in the rain.

We got absolutely drenched.  My boots felt as if they had small puddles in them and every step squished.  I had water running down the back of my legs, down my face and off my eyelashes.  My hair was a tragedy, getting all scraggly and gross.  (I can handle a lot but having scraggly hair is just demoralizing.)  We made it most of the way down before the rain stopped.  There wasn’t really anything we could have done differently so there are no regrets but we did have to hike about two miles back to our vehicles soaking wet.  That was unpleasant.

But you know what?  As inconvenient as that rainstorm was, as unpleasant as it made us feel and as wet as my boots got, the rain has become one of the best parts of the whole day.  Without the danger and discomfort, we wouldn’t really have an interesting story to tell.

If the entire hike consisted of smooth, even terrain and the temperature was a perfect 70 degrees with no humidity, we might as well have just walked in a paved park.  It has to be a little bit difficult in order for it to be interesting and rewarding.  It has to be inconvenient to make it feel as if you’ve accomplished something.

The entire hike was a little over seven and a half miles and it took us four and a half hours to complete.  The rings on my Apple Watch go around and around and around whenever I tap on them on my phone.  My legs hurt but I feel incredibly relaxed and fulfilled.  How can’t I?  I did something incredibly hard today!

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I love this photo.  It’s just an extra.  There’s no special story behind it except it was right after we got down off of those huge rocks and, as you can see, I felt super pleased with myself.  Also, I have weird knees.  I know it.  Don’t judge.

Not sure where I’m going to go next Tuesday but I know it’ll be cheap and interesting.  I’m thinking Harpers Ferry or possibly D.C.  But then again, maybe I’ll just stay home and do nothing.  Adventuring is exhausting.

 

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