Muddy Adventure

I’ll say one thing about the weather this year:  There’s never been a dull day.  An earthquake, followed by a hurricane, followed by what was likely a hundred-year storm this past Wednesday, courtesy of another tropical system.  Massive flooding kept me off my bike Wednesday and Thursday (yesterday).  The flooding didn’t start until around noon on Wednesday, and there’s a good chance I might have biked in on Wednesday morning, but we had a contractor at the house in the morning, and I took the car to avoid getting to the office too late.  I got to UMBC around 9:45, and I forgot how bad parking has gotten on campus since last year.  I drove around for 20 minutes, and ended up parking around a mile from my office.  The whole time, I was thinking that I might as well have biked, because I would have gotten to the office just as fast.  But the decision to drive turned out to be fortuitous.  If I had biked, I would have been stuck.  By afternoon, every bikeable route home was flooded out.  Route 1 was closed at the Howard County line, and Ellicott City’s Main St. was a raging torrent.  I got home via I-95, which has a very high crossing over the Patapsco River.

Conditions had improved significantly by this morning, so I hopped on the bike and rode down into Patapsco State Park.  Now, I ride through the park year-round in all sorts of conditions, and I’ve seen it pretty washed out before.  But nothing compared to today.  River Rd. was bikeable out to the swinging bridge, albeit a bit muddy and debris-strewn in spots.  The upper Grist Mill Trail (between the bridge and Ilchester Rd.) was closed off with a sign warning of “landslide danger.”  I started down the lower Grist Mill, but I soon came to a spot blocked by a fallen tree and a massive landslide.  The debris was around a foot thick.  With hiking boots, I could have slogged through it, but road bike shoes and cleats weren’t going to cut it.  I turned around and doubled back on River Rd. to the Avalon day use area.  The river itself was impressively swollen, raging, and muddy, and while the water level was as high as I’ve ever seen it, it was no longer overflowing its banks.  The entrance road was muddy and had standing water in a few spots, but was otherwise OK.  The slippery mud was the biggest hazard in the park.  I had meant to bring my camera to take a few pictures, but I forgot it, and I doubt it would have done justice to the mess anyhow.

Wow.  Will we ever have normal weather again?