2008-12-28 - Northwest Branch and Rachel Carson Trail Loop

8+ miles @ 13-14 min/mi

Kind Caren Jew picks me up at 0645 and drives us to the stables at Wheaton Regional Park, where in the dim dawn we set off downstream beside Northwest Branch. It's warm and humid, temps in the upper 50's or lower 60's already, and the wind which greeted us when we started soon fades away. We admire rocky outcrops and scenic sloughs. Caren spies a fox that speeds across the trail at our approach. After 40+ minutes we pass the point where Mary Ewell and I turned around last week (cf. 2008-12-20 - Northwest Branch with Mary) and continue on ~10 minutes to Rt 29. We joke about daring one another to tiptoe across the dam's spillway, but neither of us is foolish enough to try. After energy gels and drinks we take the Rachel Carson Trail back on the left bank of the stream. It's longer and far more rugged than the NWBT, with steep hills and half a dozen muddy tributary stream crossings. Halfway back Caren stops to point out a large gray-and-blue bird with white wing blazes—a kingfisher, most likely. She gives me half a dozen wonderful lime-flavored sports beans, one of which I drop and get to pick up off the trail before eating it. We spy tracks left by cloven hooves—deer, or demon? Back at the stables after 1:54 we visit with the horses briefly.

^z - 2009-01-02