Sunday, April 3, 2016

A Lovely Day at Camp Alta Mons

Christine Ward crosses Purgatory Creek over boulders.
Fiddle ferns are popping up.
My good friend Christine Ward and I took advantage of a crisp spring morning today to enjoy our first hike of the season up Camp Alta Mons to Styles Falls in Montgomery County. This is a delightful hiking trail based at a United Methodist camp where my grandgirl spent her camp last summer.

This one began colder (40 degrees) and windier than I expected, but eventually settled into a lovely, crisp (55-60 degrees), clear day with an azure sky and a warm sun.

Alta Mons, which is crossed by Purgatory Creek flowing from Styles Falls, is one of those rare hikes where water is close every step of the way and, in fact, it has three crossings. None is easy. Though the creek is festooned with rocks and boulders, there are jumps involved and often wet feet are the result.

Somebody lost a shoe near the falls.
There is a steep climb up one long hill that looks--and is--dangerous, but nature provides some excellent handholds with roots and small trees the entire way up. Christine looked like a goat tip-toeing over the rocks and up the hills.

The falls, where I went skinny dipping last summer, is gorgeous and noisy regardless of the time of the year. I keep promising myself a hike to the falls in the snow. But today, spring had to do and it did.

One of my favorite finds along the way were several growths of fiddle fern in their very early stage where the root of the plant's name is evident. It looks like the head of a fiddle. I will note with some satisfaction that some good soul has built a ladder below the falls that helps get up one of the big boulders just in front of the pool at the falls. That will be handy when the temperature is warmer and swimming is closer to the possible.
Styles Falls can be spectacular.
Christine studies the first creek crossing.
This is the rock-to-rock leap she is so good at.
Selfie at Styles Falls.
This is the new ladder up to the pool at the base of the falls.
This is me on the ladder.
Purgatory Creek is beautiful.
I can sit for a long time in front of the falls and just listen to it. It is calming.
Christine climbs one of the steep hills.
Spring is here. Count on it.



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