Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace

The renown naturalist, author, and preservationist John Muir once said: “Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” His quest to protect nature and save Americas unrivaled beauty led to the creation of Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. Today these along with 57 other national parks provide a respite for over 62 Million people each year to wash their spirits clean. With so many people each trying to find their own patch of vibrant wildflowers, towering redwoods, or seussical Joshua Trees its hard to keep our natural environments pristine.

This is why in 1990 the Park Service co founded a program called Leave No Trace (LNT.) We at Terrapin Adventures embrace Leave No Trace as a way to keep our wilderness’ clean enough to “wash your spirit clean.” The seven basic principles for Leave No Trace are: Plan Ahead and Prepare, Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces, Dispose of Waste Properly, Leave What You Find, Minimize Campfire Impacts, Respect Wildlife and, Be Considerate of Other Visitors. If you want to learn more visit the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics website at www.LNT.org or come on any one of our exciting trips to find your own pristine patch of nature.

Managing Risk While on the Road During Field Trips

Managing Risk on Field Trips

Managing risk while on the road for field trips and backpacking.

Every field trip requires responsibility from the trip organizers. Below are a list of actions an organizer should take so they are correctly managing risk while on the road.

  • Before embarking on a field trip, provide students and their parents with a list of items to pack so your student travelers are prepared for different situations including foul weather, loss of power and unforeseen delays.  Making sure students have proper foot wear and sunscreen go a long way to keeping them comfortable for action packed days outside.
  • Of course having emergency contact information along with any relevant medical histories is also important.
  • Provide parents and students with any consent and waiver forms ahead of time along with answers to frequently asked questions related to the places you are going.
  • Carry a first aid kit as well as plenty of water for travelers to stay hydrated.
  • Make sure the places you are going are fully prepared for your student groups and have the necessary training and equipment to safely engage your travelers on their adventure.
  • Make sure the vendor has the appropriate insurance (general liability, accident) and if so desired, can add your group on as an additional insured.
  • Be clear about the program and goals so both sides (vendor and tour operator) have expectations aligned about the trip.  Take the time to read up on any requirements or restrictions to make sure your group is a good fit.

Terrapin Adventures has four standard programs for student groups and we can customize a program to fit your needs.

Student Trips with Terrapin Adventures

Terrapin Adventures is conveniently located in Howard County, Maryland, between Baltimore and Washington DC. Let us be your guide and unveil a bold universe of outdoor fun. Learn new skills while you explore local parks, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. Each tour will need advance reservations that can be made online or by phone.

Get in touch with a Guest Relations Specialist today and ask about how we can help you plan your next field trip, backpacking trip, or other outdoor adventure. In the meantime, if you have any questions about Managing Risk, please call Terrapin Adventures at 301.725.1313, email us at info@terrapinadventures.com, or fill out the contact form on our website.

You can also follow Terrapin Adventures us on FacebookTwitterLinkedInYouTubeGoogle+, and Pinterest for up-to-date information on events, trends, and other fun and exciting outdoor activities.

Using Technology to Enhance Your Student Trip

Student Trip

Learn how to use technology to enhance your student trip.

It’s a technological world. We’re just living in it.

Let kids use their smart phones, laptops, and tablets to enhance their student trip experience. Mobile devices can be used to reinforce education themes of the trip and pass the time constructively.

If you are going to a historical area, have the students look up background on the place, person, or topic prior to arrival. This will help put a context for what they will soon experience first hand.

Encourage the students to maintain a travel log and share photos and thoughts via Facebook & Twitter. Spur fun learning by having contests that they have to use their mobile computing tools to find answers to questions.

At Terrapin Adventures we provide a unique outdoor adventure setting where we help students develop social skills and learn about the wonders of Central Maryland. Topics that we can incorporate into a program include:

  • Water quality and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
  • Reduce, Reuse and Recycle at home, school and work
  • Leave No Trace Outdoor Activities
  • Using gps to navigate your way in the woods
  • First aid while traveling outdoors

So we support your goals and efforts of Using Technology to Enhance Your Student Trip.

For more information or a quote for your student group, call 301-725-1313 or email us at info@TerrapinAdventures.com.

What Kind of Animal Are You?

When working together as a team it is important to be understanding of each person, and his or her personality. There may be various personality types working within your team, but recognize that each type has a value and each person can be effective in his or her own way, even if he is choosing to do a project in a way that differs from the way you would do it.  As mentioned by the Myers & Briggs Foundation, “Knowledge of type can help you deal with the culture of the place you work, the development of new skills, understanding your participation on teams, and coping with change in the workplace.”

Listed below are the 16 personality types. We have even taken this a step further and compared each type to a specific animal. If you are looking for a fun team building activity, buy masks of all the animals listed below. Have your team sit in a circle and then as a group identify the personality types of each person in your team. Once identified, each colleague should put on their mask and mention one strength that the person sitting to their left brings to the table, and mention how this is connected to the kind of animal they are!

What Kind Of Animal Are You?

What Kind Of Animal Are You?

ISTJ
The Duty Fulfiller; Beaver

Quiet, serious, earn success by thoroughness and dependability. Practical, matter-of-fact, realistic, and responsible. Decide logically what should be done and work toward it steadily, regardless of distractions. Take pleasure in making everything orderly and organized – their work, their home, their life. Value traditions and loyalty.

ISFJ
The Nurterer; Deer

Quiet, friendly, responsible, and conscientious. Committed and steady in meeting their obligations. Thorough, painstaking, and accurate. Loyal, considerate, notice and remember specifics about people who are important to them, concerned with how others feel. Strive to create an orderly and harmonious environment at work and at home.

INFJ
The Protector; Wolf

Seek meaning and connection in ideas, relationships, and material possessions. Want to understand what motivates people and are insightful about others. Conscientious and committed to their firm values. Develop a clear vision about how best to serve the common good. Organized and decisive in implementing their vision.

INTJ
The Scientist; Octopus

Have original minds and great drive for implementing their ideas and achieving their goals. Quickly see patterns in external events and develop long-range explanatory perspectives. When committed, organize a job and carry it through. Skeptical and independent, have high standards of competence and performance – for themselves and others.

ISTP
The Mechanic; Cat

Tolerant and flexible, quiet observers until a problem appears, then act quickly to find workable solutions. Analyze what makes things work and readily get through large amounts of data to isolate the core of practical problems. Interested in cause and effect, organize facts using logical principles, value efficiency.

ISFP
The Artist; Sloth

Quiet, friendly, sensitive, and kind. Enjoy the present moment, what’s going on around them. Like to have their own space and to work within their own time frame. Loyal and committed to their values and to people who are important to them. Dislike disagreements and conflicts, do not force their opinions or values on others.

INFP
The Idealist; Meerkat

Idealistic, loyal to their values and to people who are important to them. Want an external life that is congruent with their values. Curious, quick to see possibilities, can be catalysts for implementing ideas. Seek to understand people and to help them fulfill their potential. Adaptable, flexible, and accepting unless a value is threatened.

INTP
The Thinker; Owl

Seek to develop logical explanations for everything that interests them. Theoretical and abstract, interested more in ideas than in social interaction. Quiet, contained, flexible, and adaptable. Have unusual ability to focus in depth to solve problems in their area of interest. Skeptical, sometimes critical, always analytical.

ESTP
The Doer; Fox

Flexible and tolerant, they take a pragmatic approach focused on immediate results. Theories and conceptual explanations bore them – they want to act energetically to solve the problem. Focus on the here-and-now, spontaneous, enjoy each moment that they can be active with others. Enjoy material comforts and style. Learn best through doing.

ESFP
The Performer; Otter

Outgoing, friendly, and accepting. Exuberant lovers of life, people, and material comforts. Enjoy working with others to make things happen. Bring common sense and a realistic approach to their work, and make work fun. Flexible and spontaneous, adapt readily to new people and environments. Learn best by trying a new skill with other people.

ENFP
The Inspirer; Dolphin

Warmly enthusiastic and imaginative. See life as full of possibilities. Make connections between events and information very quickly, and confidently proceed based on the patterns they see. Want a lot of affirmation from others, and readily give appreciation and support. Spontaneous and flexible, often rely on their ability to improvise and their verbal fluency.

ENTP
The Visionary; Parrot

Quick, ingenious, stimulating, alert, and outspoken. Resourceful in solving new and challenging problems. Adept at generating conceptual possibilities and then analyzing them strategically. Good at reading other people. Bored by routine, will seldom do the same thing the same way, apt to turn to one new interest after another.

ESTJ
The Guardian; Honey Bee

Practical, realistic, matter-of-fact. Decisive, quickly move to implement decisions. Organize projects and people to get things done, focus on getting results in the most efficient way possible. Take care of routine details. Have a clear set of logical standards, systematically follow them and want others to also. Forceful in implementing their plans.

ESFJ
The Caregiver; Elephant

Warmhearted, conscientious, and cooperative. Want harmony in their environment, work with determination to establish it. Like to work with others to complete tasks accurately and on time. Loyal, follow through even in small matters. Notice what others need in their day-by-day lives and try to provide it. Want to be appreciated for who they are and for what they contribute.

ENFJ
The Giver; Dog

Warm, empathetic, responsive, and responsible. Highly attuned to the emotions, needs, and motivations of others. Find potential in everyone, want to help others fulfill their potential. May act as catalysts for individual and group growth. Loyal, responsive to praise and criticism. Sociable, facilitate others in a group, and provide inspiring leadership.

ENTJ
The Executive; Lion

Frank, decisive, assume leadership readily. Quickly see illogical and inefficient procedures and policies, develop and implement comprehensive systems to solve organizational problems. Enjoy long-term planning and goal setting. Usually well informed, well read, enjoy expanding their knowledge and passing it on to others. Forceful in presenting their ideas.

What kind of animal are you? Comment below and let us know!

Meanwhile, if you have any questions about Team Building and juggling multiple personality (animal) types, please call Terrapin Adventures at 301.725.1313, email us at info@terrapinadventures.com, or fill out the contact form on our website. You can also follow Terrapin Adventures us on FacebookTwitterLinkedInYouTubeGoogle+, and Pinterest for up-to-date information on events, trends, and other fun and exciting outdoor activities.

Team Building Tip of the Month: Food For Thought: Is Social Media Making Us Lonely?

In a May 2012 Atlantic Monthly article, Stephen Marche talks about how technology and social media are good at helping people connect.   People are able to stay on top of what is happening within the business community and within their personal sphere of family and friends. While social media has enabled us to get or stay connected with many more people, many of these connections are superficial. We wonder, is social media making us lonely?

Social Media Illustration

Is social media making us lonely?

Many more people are in single person households now.  Computers and smart phones have enabled us to stay connected with people as we deal with the ex-burbs, and long commutes. 27% of households today contain only one person compared to 10% in 1950.

In 1985 only 10% of Americans said they had no one with whom to discuss important matters, and 15% said they had only one such good friend.  By 2004, 25% had nobody to talk to, and 20% had only one confidant.  In the face of this social disintegration, we have essentially hired an army of replacement confidants with huge increases in clinical psychologists, social workers, counselors and therapists to share our personal thoughts.

Many would argue that having a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account has helped them get more connected.  They are able to keep up or reconnect with people far away or who have gone in different directions.

No matter what your take on the subject, take time to make connections with people. When someone asks you, “Is Social Media Making Us Lonely?” Now you have an answer. Pick up the phone, post to your social media account, react to others postings, get together in person and enjoy the human experience.

Team Building with Terrapin Adventures

Located between Baltimore and Washington DC, Terrapin Adventures is uniquely suited to provide a custom Team Building solution for any group, both onsite and offsite.Presented in a fun and creative way our group facilitators will lead your group through unique events followed by debriefing sessions to help your group not only work better as a team, but fully understand the strides they made during their team building program.

Serious Team Building partnered with Serious Fun!

If you have any questions about Team Building and fostering better communication and collaboration, please call Terrapin Adventures at 301.725.1313, email us at info@terrapinadventures.com, or fill out the contact form on our website. You can also follow Terrapin Adventures us on FacebookTwitterLinkedInYouTubeGoogle+, and Pinterest for up-to-date information on events, trends, and other fun and exciting outdoor activities.

Team Building: Stretch Your Body, Stretch Your Mind

Team building on ropes courses challenges people to go beyond the familiar.  They  get a work out mentally and physically.  Stretching your arms and legs to by climbing or traversing  to achieve milestones can help many gain confidence.  Also, working in groups, participants on challenge courses have to work with people they might not know very well.  Therefore they are exposed to different ways of thinking as the group works under constraints to solve both mental and physical problems. Stretch Your Body, Stretch Your Mind.

Team-Building

Team-Building

Athletes and musicians develop muscle memory from repeating a sequence of steps.  Students also learn by frequently practicing a series of rules in reading, writing and arithmetic.   So what happens when a person is faced with an unfamiliar environment?  Some fight.  Others take flight.  On a challenge course, we ask you to ask for help and work together.  While most courses operate on a challenge-by- choice doctrine, what happens when peer pressure or better yet, supportive team mates encourage you to try?  Well you stretch yourself and learn.

Learning comes from failure as well as success.  A group that takes on a challenge will often learn more about themselves and each other by coming up short than by succeeding.  The games may be silly but the lessons translate well and stretching yourself yields many benefits.

–Matt Baker, Chief Adventure Officer

Team Building with Terrapin Adventures

Terrapin Adventures has spent years perfecting its team building programs. Our guides are experienced Team Builders. Presented in a fun and creative way our group facilitators and guides will lead your group through unique events that are designed to not only boost morale, but also break down barriers and foster better communication and collaboration amongst your employees. In layman’s terms, our team building programs are designed to help your employees work better, as a team.

Come to our facility or we can bring our fun to yours.

If you have any questions about Team Building, please call Terrapin Adventures at 301.725.1313, email us at info@terrapinadventures.com, or fill out the contact form on our website. You can also follow Terrapin Adventures us on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn,YouTubeGoogle+, and Pinterest for up-to-date information on events, trends, and other fun and exciting outdoor activities.

When camp is over, send the kids back to camp!

“Mom, we’re bored,” they say with whining voices. The moment you have dreaded all summer long has finally come. Summer camp is over, school has not yet begun, and your kids have nothing to do. Of course, as a parent you just want to see your kids happy, and so you scramble to find small activities to keep them busy. Perhaps a day trip to the zoo, or spending some time at the local community pool. But, you have a full two weeks before school starts, and there is just no way you can take them out EVERY day.

Well, I have good news for you! Did you know that there are camps for after camp? There are a variety of camps that you can enroll your child in when most camps have already ended. For example, this year Terrapin Adventures will be running two sessions of their Ultimate Adventure Camp. When camp is over, send the kids back to camp.

Campers at Terrapin Adventures

Campers at Terrapin Adventures

Each camp session is one week of adventure, exploration and discovery. Here kids will learn about outdoor leadership skills and test their strength and courage while having a blast conquering Terrapin Adventures challenge course and exploring nature along the Little Patuxent River while biking, geo-caching, river tubing and more.  The sessions are in the beginning of August- those dreadful weeks when you must find activities to entertain day after day.

Of course, I would still encourage you to spend time with your children, because often it is those fun family trips to the pool that will create memories that will last a lifetime. (I still think back to the summer days I spent with my mom and siblings at the local community center pool – laying on towels while drying off from our swim, laughing, and eating Bugels. No trip to the pool was complete with out Bugels to put on the tips of our fingers!) But, that is why I think this idea of a one-week camp after camp is such a great idea. This gives you the best of both worlds. You can spend time with your children, but also enable them to have new experiences and fun while attending a one-week camp that is packed with adventure.

The Appalachian Trail: Eleven Years Later

Backpacks on and ready to go, the three of us faced the camera and my mother snapped some pictures. No, it was not the first day of school. We, my dad, my sister and myself, were about to embark on a four-day hike on the Appalachian Trail.

Family Photo on Appalachian TrailFour days? The words kept echoing in my mind. I was excited for the trip, but reality was starting to hit. I had been on camping overnights with the Cub Scouts, but never a trip like this. The Appalachian Trail runs from Maine to Georgia; we were going to hike the Maryland portion in its entirety – 36 miles!

Today I am an Adventure Guide at Terrapin Adventures. I am a big hiker, and have hiked the Appalachian Trail many times and in various states. But, each time I remember my very first experience, the hike that spurred my interest in outdoor recreation, ten years old on a four-day 36 mile hiking trip…

Before I could protest and back out, we were on the trail. Carrying 50 pounds on my back was tough, but my dad encouraged me by explaining that we would just be traveling five miles at a time. I could handle that! My sister and I complained about the blisters our boots were giving us, but we made it to the shelter our goal for the day. But, when we arrived there we still had energy flowing. The next shelter was just another five miles away, and so we decided to continue. We were having a fun time, and we were still psyched about the idea of a four-day hike. But, soon the sun was going down, and the shelter was nowhere in sight. So, we found a flat spot on the side of the trail and set up camp.  For dinner we had freeze-dried meals (so much food packed in such a small bag!)  Then we played cards by flashlight, and crawled into our sleeping bags.

Scenery on Appalachian TrailThe next morning we were ready to conquer the next ten miles of trail. As we hiked, we talked The conversation was light as we considered recent T.V. shows and what mom was doing at home without us. We would stop from time to time to hydrate and eat some GORP – good old raisins and peanuts. We finally reached the next campground, and we were exhausted from the long 10-mile hike  We made freeze dried spaghetti, which was nasty and ended up in the garbage. And, like the night before, we played a round of hearts before going to bed.

“We are going to the Washington Monument,” my father explained as we ate our oatmeal the next morning. (Of course I thought this meant we were hiking to DC. But I soon learned that the Washington Monument is actually located in Boonsboro, Maryland, a wonderful place to behold.) As we journeyed onward, we would stop to view the beauty of Western Maryland, or to make sure the bug creeping up our leg wasn’t a tick. But, we kept trekking to our destination. We passed a thru-hiker that told us that we were not to far. Though, a thru-hiker who came all the way from Florida would think that anything was close considering where he came from.

A long time later we finally came across the Washington Monument. We found a nearby picnic table, and oh, did that first can of coke taste good! (Over the next 11 years I would return to this place and remember the majesty of the monument the very first time I saw it. I will always have an affinity for the Washington Monument State Park.)

After a while we put our packs back on and set out on the trail again. We fell into a good rhythm and before we knew it were at the next shelter. We set up camp, made dinner (better than the spaghetti the night before) and played cards. And then we heard a  weird rustling sound. Bear! Bear! Bear! It was going to burst through the tent and eat us! I stayed quiet, as directed. But it seemed that the bear knew what I was thinking. The rustling noise now moved toward the back of our tent. I sat there holding my breath praying it would go away. And then… PURR…  it was not a bear after all. It was a cat! And that is when my dad whipped out his handy trail guide, and read to us that this was a frequent phenomenon. Cats frequently visited the campsite hoping that hikers would share their food. Phew!

After my heart rate returned to normal, we had some fun with the cat, and then settled in our sleeping bags for we knew that the next day was to be our last. We woke the next morning well rested and ready to trek to our final destination, Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

Family Photo on Appalachian TrailWe continued our journey discussing all that had occurred in the past three days. Wow, this was going to make a good story to share with my friends! We soon came close to the road and got off the Appalachian Trail and headed toward the train tracks, and finally we reached the bridge stretching from Maryland to West Virginia.

We did it! Four days, many slices of moleskin, bad spaghetti, and a wild animal – almost. We hiked a total of 36 miles from northern Maryland to West Virginia.

Now, eleven years later I am 21 years old and a lover of the outdoors. Sometimes I wonder why so many people do not take advantage and enjoy the nature that surrounds them. Perhaps if they had hiked the Appalachian Trail as a kid, this would not be the case. I recognize that this trip was not just fun; it was a learning experience. I learned (with my parents encouragement) that I could accomplish great things. I learned the power of sheer will and motivation. And, I learned to appreciate nature.

If you are a parent, I hope you will consider taking your child on a hiking/camping trip. Spend time with them and create memories that will last a lifetime. Encourage your children to spend time outdoors, and teach them to appreciate their surroundings. Show them what they can accomplish. (Trust me, without my parents pushing me, I would have never thought of going on a 36 mile hike, and I certainly would not have succeeded in many of the grand endeavors I have had since then. Thanks Mom and Dad!)

–Billy Orndorff
Billy is an Adventure Guide at Terrapin Adventures, who is currently a senior at Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, VA. He still enjoys learning about his outdoor environment as he studies Environmental Science. You can occasionally find him studying in a tree or running on the local trails.

Hiking for Picture Perfect

The locals seem to have an unnatural affinity for Spam, and the pineapple here tastes better than anywhere else in the world. The language is hard, really hard. It has only 13 letters- 5 vowels and 8 consonants. But what stands out the most about this place is the natural beauty. I am talking about Hawaii, of course!

I have traveled to Hawaii several times, but on my most recent visit I found myself in Oahu, Hiking for Picture Perfect. Hawaii has more than 100 islands; Oahu, translated to English as “The Gathering Place,” is the most populated, and is home to the states largest city and capital, Honolulu. Despite the fact that there is over a million people on the small island, Oahu is still full of wild and beautiful scenery. It seems that one is never far from some amazing summit, hiking trail, or scenic vista. During my visit, I hiked three trails – Koko Crater, Ka’ena Point, and Diamond Head State Monument. Each hike was an adventure I hope everyone gets to experience in his or her lifetime.

Koko CraterKoko Crater is an ancient volcano located on the southeastern coast of Oahu. Koko is not the tallest peak on the island, or the largest crater. However, its views are not to be missed. In fact, the view from the crater is possibly the only thing that draws people to its summit, as the hike to the top is one of the mostnotoriously difficult on the island. An abandoned inclined railroad bed leads straight up the side of the 1,208-foot tall summit. There are no turns, no switchbacks, and no easy way to get to the top. The trail is steep; at its steepest point it shoots skyward at over 60 degrees! A slip here would not be advised. But at some points crawling and using your hands is recommended. Half way up, the old volcano throws the hiker another obstacle: a 25-foot deep, 100-foot wide chasm. Luckily the railroad crosses the gap, but one must use caution as the ties of the railroad are 2.5 feet apart, and there is nothing in between. But once at the top, the view is absolutely amazing and breathtaking… until you remember that the only way down is the same way you came up!

Kaena PointKa’ena Point is the westernmost point of Oahu. Due to steep sea cliffs and jagged coral shore, it is completely inaccessible by anything other than hiking boots. It is an amazing place to get away from the crowds of Honolulu and truly enjoy the rugged beauty of Hawaii. The Ka’ena Point trail is located in Ka’ena Point State Park, and is only 3.5 miles long. This trail is easy by most hikers’ standards, but it isn’t the challenge people come for, it is the wildlife. Located here is a wildlife preserve that contains many endangered species, some found only in Hawaii. The Hawaiian monk seals are the star attraction; there are only 1,100 of these seals left in the wild, and the point is an excellent place to see them. Ka’ena Point is also home to Laysan Albatrosses, with wingspans of up to 8 feet. In addition, during the winter, the Island is host to one of the great migrations of nature, as hundreds of humpback whales make the waters of Oahu their temporary home. Visitors can see the whales, and it is an astounding site. I believe that Ka’ena Point is an under rated, and under appreciated Hawaiian attraction, and one worth visiting.

My last hiking location on this trip was Diamond Head State Monument. Diamond Head is another ancient volcanic crater. Almost perfectly circular, and easily visible from all of Honolulu, Diamond Head has become a famous symbol of the state. The hike is only .75 miles, but begins inside the crater. Most of the hike is a hot, dry, steep, and windless climb of switchbacks up the inside of the crater wall. The crater was previously used as a military installation, and the trail takes you through the remnants of World War II defensive bunkers. Exactly 203 very steep steps later, youreach the top, and the view is post card perfect from every direction. The vast Pacific Ocean lies in front of you. To the right is the skyline of Honolulu, and to the left is a view of Koko Crater. Also, while enjoying the scenery at the top, be sure to savor the cool breeze of the famous and ever present trade winds, because once you descend into the crater it will become very hot once again.

In Hawaii it seems that everywhere you look, an amazing view or experience awaits. Hike the Koko Crater; the challenge is worth the rewarding view from the top. At Ka’ena point you will see wild life that you cannot see anywhere else in the world. At the Diamond Head State Monument, climb from inside of the crater wall. Explore Oahu; enjoy the natural beauty of the most isolated islands in the world. And, don’t forget the pineapple, its amazing!
Honolulu from Diamond Head
– Sean Myers

Sean is an adventure guide at Terrapin Adventures. Growing up on a farm in rural St. Mary’s County contributed to his love for the outdoors. He enjoys backpacking, rock climbing, and scuba diving in his free time.

A Fresh Perspective; Hiking in Savage Mill

“Get up off the couch and go outside,” I told myself! I was lucky to have the day off on what could possibly have been the warmest day in February 2012.

Hiking in Savage Mill

Those of us who live in the Columbia, Maryland area should consider ourselves extremely lucky. We have natural resources in our backyard! From Terrapin Adventures in the Savage Mill, it takes about five minutes to access four different trailheads with over fifteen miles of trail to explore. There is the Wincopin trail, both sides of the Savage Mill Trail, and the Patuxent Branch trail. All of which, while only minutes from major highways, are quite tranquil and filled with local flora and fauna.

So, on this beautiful day, I decided to explore the newly opened section of the Savage Mill trail. The trail begins at the top of the Mill parking lot and follows the Little Patuxent around to the old mill ruins. At the beginning of my walk I wasn’t expecting much, but with the noon sun shining and hitting the water perfectly I saw this area in a new light. The beauty of the area was amplified by the clear water and wildlife at almost an arms reach away.

Heron at Savage MillAfter passing some old rusted out bridge trusses I happened upon a heron and was able to snap a few quick pictures. It’s incredible that we can see such impressive animals with the ever-increasing encroachment of development around every corner. Around another bend in the river I came upon the small rapids where the water flow was quite high and impressive. The sound of thousands of gallons of water crashing around massive boulders is soothing and constant–providing contrast to its violent action.

During my hike, I had time to think, and I realized how incredibly rare and special it is to have the opportunity not only to see these wonders, but also to have the time to appreciate them. So as you sit at your desk and slave away, I urge you to take some time to get out; go outside and really see the nature surrounding you, even if it is only for five minutes. This can provide you with a fresh perspective so you don’t burn out in the haze of florescent lights. Go outside and get your first sunburn of the season in February, like I did! You will feel refreshed and renewed.

–Byron Bell

Byron is an adventure guide at Terrapin Adventures. He enjoys sailing, aggressive in-line skating and unicycling, and has extensive experience camping and hiking.