While other vacationers at Deep Creek Lake were stepping into ski boots, my daughter and I were tying on hiking boots.
There was snow, real snow, in the mountains around Wisp Ski Resort and we wanted to enjoy the slopes in a quieter, slower way.
Garrett County, Maryland’s westernmost county has trails for anybody who wants to take a walk. We regularly walk the trails at Swallow Falls State Park. Who can resist glorious water falls, a cathedral of ancient hemlocks and an easy to follow path?
Trouble is, it’s always filled with lots of people — and we were looking for something different. A staffer at the Deep Creek Visitor Center recommended all kinds of places — Big Run State Park for a nice walk in the woods or Herrington Manor State Park for a walk along the 53-acre Herrington Lake. Tempting…. There were other lakeside options, too: at Deep Creek Lake State Park or Broadford Lake in nearby Oakland.
Or, she added, almost as an afterthought, you could go to Fork Run Recreation Area.
She described trails in the mountains around Wisp, some easily walkable, some more strenuous sounded more like what we were looking for.
Since we were already on the top of a mountain, we didn’t have to do much climbing along the path we chose. Instead, we listened to the silence. The only sounds we heard were the crunching of snow underfoot and our own voices. We never heard a bird tweet or the wind rustle through the bare branches. There were footprints but those had been covered by the previous night’s snowfall. We were the first here today. For a cold afternoon (and it was mighty cold), this mountain top was ours.
A cluster of boulders beside our path reminded the nerd in me of a Hobbit house. Alas, no round door.
Another cluster of boulders invited climbing — but for me, thanks. We explored it from the snowy ground and wondered how the view was from the top.
Fork Run has nearly 10 miles of trails. We covered about one-tenth of it. We loved it for its snow, its silence and the rare moment of feeling like there were no other people in the world.
At that point on top of a mountain, there weren’t.
Ⓒ Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman