Snow in Maryland and West Virginia

The nor’easter yesterday blanketed western Maryland with snow. There wasn’t a huge amount of snow on the ground in the places we visited but it was still quite beautiful!

We were originally planning on driving to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia but Skyline Drive, the road through the park, was closed due to snow. We decided to visit some places in Maryland while waiting to see if any parts of Skyline Drive would open. Ultimately, none did.

Monocacy National Battlefield

Our fist stop was the Monocacy National Battlefield just south of Frederick, Maryland. The local roads were still being cleared as we arrived and many of the park roads were snow covered. We ended up parking at the visitor center parking lot as it was already fully plowed although the building was not open.

There was a period of freezing rain yesterday which resulted in all the trees being covered with ice! It was quite beautiful! The effect was really only noticeable when looking towards the sun. When viewed in the other direction, the ice was virtually invisible.

The snow was fresh when we arrived and virtually untouched by humans. However, various types of animals had walked by. We definitely aren’t even amateurs at identifying tracks, however, we guessed one set was a running deer based on the huge distance between footprints.

The cannons made for an interesting subject as we walked through the snow covered field next to the visitor center. They also had snow and ice on them though it didn’t produce quite the same effect as on the trees.

Gallery: https://gallery.thesun.arfycat.com/Galleries/USA/Maryland/Monocacy-National-Battlefield-2020-12

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Our second stop was Harpers Ferry, about 30 minutes south of Frederick and Monocacy. The town and park is located in West Virginia where the Shenandoah River flows into the Potomac River and borders both Maryland and Virginia.

We parked at the train station which is still actively used by both Amtrak and MARC, Maryland’s rail system. From the station, the town was into the sun which resulted in a beautiful view with the ice covered trees.

We decided to walk across the railroad bridge to the Maryland side. We saw a freight train rumble by on the adjacent bridge as we started walking. The chain link fence that separates the pedestrian walkway from the track was covered in ice though it was melting fast. This resulted in some interesting ice formations that protruded from the fence. We also saw a few pieces of ice suspended by spider silk! After admiring some of the icy trees on the Maryland side, we walked back to West Virginia.

Icicles

A line of icicles suspended underneath a railing at the river’s edge. Maryland and the railroad bridge we walked across are in the background.

There were also a number of ice covered trees in the town. It was a bit hard to try to photograph them as the ice effect is only really noticeable when looking towards the sun. This is definitely one of those cases where it looked more beautiful in real life!

Gallery: https://gallery.thesun.arfycat.com/Galleries/USA/West-Virginia/Harpers-Ferry-2020-12/

Antietam National Battlefield

Our next stop was Antietam National Battlefield, about 30 minutes to the north in Maryland.

Once again, we parked at the visitor center parking lot. It felt a bit warmer here and the trees did not have as much ice on them. We briefly took a look at the two large monuments that were nearby before continuing onwards.

Gallery: https://gallery.thesun.arfycat.com/Galleries/USA/Maryland/Antietam-National-Battlefield-2020-12/

Washington Monument State Park

Our final stop was the Washington Monument State Park, not to be confused with the tall obelisk in DC! This is the first monument to George Washington that was completed, though it has been rebuilt.

The monument is located at the top of a small mountain, or perhaps better described as a tall hill. It definitely snowed more here than the locations we visited earlier in the day. Looking at some of the snow covered trees reminded us of Colorado! Especially the pine trees with their branches bent downwards!

Unfortunately, the entrance to the stairs to the top of the monument was padlocked. It looked like it would have been perfectly safe! We did walk around to the back where there is an overlook with a great view of the land below.

While there were ice covered trees, the effect was often not as noticeable as what we saw in Monocacy. Sun angle and arriving before the sun has had a chance to melt much of the ice seems to make a big difference!

White-Throated Sparrow

As we neared the parking lot, we saw some birds foraging for food in the snow. They were White-Throated Sparrows! We watched them for a bit as they darted here and there, occasionally picking something up from the ground and eating it!

We also saw a Carolina Wren under a pile of leaves next to a picnic shelter. We initially heard the leaves rustle and saw them being tossed around. It was awhile before we actually saw and identified the bird!

We also saw what was likely a Red-Shouldered Hawk fly by.

Gallery: https://gallery.thesun.arfycat.com/Galleries/USA/Maryland/Washington-Monument-State-Park-2020-12/