It’s strange not being at Jack Mountain. I woke up yesterday morning and immediately felt out of place. I was in my grandparent’s cabin in NewJerseyy and couldn’t hear the woods around me. As it said in the title, Jack Mountain’s field school provided a constant supply of fuel for the thing in me that craves the wild, and know I have to wean myself off a bit until I head back up in January.
So that’s what I’d like to talk about today. It’ll be short because I’m exhausted from the drive down, but I’ll lay out my plans for the months I’ll be in Maryland.
First off, let me go on record as saying that being back among throngs of people isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’m happy to see my family, and get reacquainted with Baltimore, the city I’ve been away from for far too long. I’m also incredibly lucky to be in the state that is referred to as “America in miniature”. If I want mountains, it’s an hour and a half drive west. Ocean? About the same but heading east, and the whole state is crisscrossed by the Potomac, and a few other rivers where I can continue to paddle my way through any time off I have. Like I said, I’m lucky to have this as a staging area until I can get back up to Maine and the rivers and woods I fell in love with over the last few months. So far I have a few definite plans I’d like to see fulfilled while I’m here. I’ve already fed the addiction a bit since I got down east, going to a few nature reserves and the ocean with my grandparents. It’s not enough though. I got a taste over the last few months, and I’m not stopping. So here’s my initial list. Believe me when I say it’ll get added to constantly.
(Osprey in nest at the nature reserve. She really wasn’t happy I was so close. )
The first is canoeing or kayaking the Potomac River. I want to keep improving my canoeing abilities, and if I convince friends and family to come along, I can practice the day to day skills involved in guiding. (Plus I want to show off my fancy new open fire culinary abilities.) I’ll also be taking as many day trips as I can get away with by myself along the rivers and streams here, just continuing to observe and finding new plants to press, animals to look up and getting a better grasp on reading the weather and water. An advantage of this field ,I’m coming to realize, is that there are endless opportunities to improve yourself for it, as long as you have the motivation to find them. One of the biggest ones on the list is paddling through the paw paw tunnel in western Maryland. It’s an old canal built for moving goods, and not really a part of the original river, but get this. It goes underground. How the hell do the gods of canoes expect me to resist that?
(It was so good to be back in the ocean. I missed my Atlantic.)
Secondly, I plan on studying like a madman for my guide exams. In my time during this semester, I noticed a tendency in myself and other students to avoid the academic side of this field. I shouldn’t have let myself do that, and I’m going to relearn the habits I let fall to the wayside over these next few months. I want my guide license more than I ever wanted my degree in college. It’s not just a symbol of the fact that I sat in enough classes and memorized enough facts to spit them back out. It’s a gateway into this field in a real tangible way. It’s proof that I’ve got enough knowledge and experience to take out someone who knows nothing about the outdoors, and bring them back in one piece. (Perhaps a little sore if it’s a canoe trip, but hey, I can’t fix everything). Really this should be number one on the list, but that whole “paw paw tunnel” trip hit my adventure button hard.
So, if you know of places around Maryland, Virginia or the surrounding area that are worth checking out, please let me know. I guarantee I’ll find a way to go see it.