Monday, September 16, 2013

Keep It Local: Clearwater Nature Center and Cosca Regional Park

As some of you may know, this summer we were on the hunt  for new hikes. We can't remember where we first heard of it, but we knew that Clearwater Nature Center in Cosca Regional Park in PG County was supposed to be pretty great. In general, we find that hiking loops off of nature centers are pretty tame. So mom didn't plan particularly well for a hike -- she was in flip flops and I had a little dress on.

We hit the nature center up first, which is small, but has a really fabulous stream leading up to it and an impressive collection of animals. And a cave to explore! We watched a few owls scarf some mice and looked for fossils in the cave. And then we were both itching (no pun intended, yet) to get outside and hike. So we asked a ranger to point us in the direction of a relatively easy "hike" and she indicated that we should aim for the loop around the lake. Simple enough.

Too simple. Because then mom decided we needed to geocache while we were "hiking." There was a cache close by, but way off trail. We set off for it and kept circling and circling around it. And large animal poop. LARGE. Then mom's phone started to die and with it the GPS geocaching app. Fortunately we found the cache in time, but then we were stuck to find our own way back to the trail. As Kane indicated he was about to go "past panic," mom decided we'd just take what she thought was the shortest route there (based on her expert opinion of sun location and wind direction) and she pulled us through a bunch of bramble.

She was actually right on and we found the trail and headed back home. Mom was pretty pleased with herself. She was less pleased when she found two ticks on each of us about 3 days later -- she didn't think to check and they were sneaky little suckers hiding really well. We were not pleased when daddy extracted them and the nurse at the doctors office was not pleased when mom brought them in in a plastic baggie (although daddy was proud that he got them off mostly in tact). No worries -- everyone is fine and we now know to check thoroughly for ticks even after our little "hikes." And wear proper shoes. And long pants.

The weather this week looks great for getting out and about, so if you have a chance, check out Cosca. In addition to the nature center and hiking trails, there is a playground and a (likely manmade) lake with swan paddle boats available to rent. The boathouse is still open until mid-October (weather permitting).

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