What is the forest challenge? Well, this summer it's been absolutely too hot for me to go out in the sun. My body can't stand the heat. I sweat like a maniac and I burn within 10 minutes of being in the sun, but I had to get out and get into nature. So I set a goal around mid-August of this year to visit one state or national park each weekend to hike and do a portrait of each park, similar to the work I did in the "Forest Mystics" series . My goal is to do this until the end of October. So far I've been to three parks: Gunpowder Falls State Park (Maryland), Cranesville Swamp Preserve (West Virginia), and this past Saturday I was at Gambrill State Park, near Frederick, Maryland. This is a small gem of a park that is easily overlooked given that it lies between the larger South Mountain State Park and Catoctin National Park, but it has a fantastic set of trails that seem to be very low traffic. It's best known for it's historic "tea room", a stone lodge built on the mountaintop by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930's that is now available as a rental for occassions.
I hiked on three of the five trails, which are rated moderate to difficult due to the rocky paths and steep hills, although I only found the Green Ash trail to be challenging in the "how much longer do I have to climb this incline?". I started at 9am and ended the day at 2pm. Overall it was a very quiet, shaded trail, low traffic even for the Labor day weekend. Almost no visible water on the Black Locust or Green Ash trail.