Last week, two of my closest friends and I decided to take a day trip to Western Maryland together. For those of you who don’t know, Western Maryland borders Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The Appalachian Mountains cut right through Western Maryland and this area is also home to many state parks, trails, and so on. My friend Mickey is from the Bronx, I, as you all may remember, lived in Queens, and we all, my other friend Keisha included, live about twenty minutes outside of Baltimore, so a day in nature would be a very nice, much needed change of pace.
Our first stop was High Rock in Cascade, MD. As part of the Appalachian Trail, the only way to get there via car (remember we’re still city girls) was to drive up a winding road on an upward slope. If it’s your first time driving in the “mountains,” then this road can be a little intimidating, but, thanks to my hours of adventure in central Puerto Rico, which is full of mountains, the drive up was cake.
Once you arrive to the top, High Rock is the first thing you see. It’s a huge cluster of grey rocks mixed with a set of concrete steps put in to make taking in the sites easier for visitors. If the stature of High Rock isn’t enough to grab your attention, then the rainbow of graffiti will definitely make you look. The enormous rocks look like street art ruins with drawings, patterns, and words in purple, orange, red, white, green, and every other color covering the natural grey backdrop. To me, it looked like nature and the inner city harmoniously collided together to create nature’s art. On the steps central to High Rock in bold white paint, it read “peace, love, compassion,” summing up High Rock perfectly. When you walk up the steps, you see a clear view of the rural towns below and, in the distance, you can see the mountain range, marking the horizon.
The three of us sat at the top of the rock, enjoying the breeze, admiring the view, and feeling at peace. There were times where we sat in silence, but, for most of the time, we talked. We just shared whatever was on our mind, whether it was childhood stories, high school memories, or deep thoughts. The common denominator was we kept everything positive and serene. For a portion of our time at High Rock, we explored around, took some priceless pictures, and conquered some very real fears.
Later that day, we visited Cunningham Falls in Thurmont, MD, which is about fifteen minutes from High Rock. We went on a short hike to see the waterfall, enjoyed the lake for a little while, and played around in the playground like a couple of big kids. Simply put, it was a great day, but the highlight was definitely High Rock.
The serenity it brought me, the uniquely different perspective it creates, and the bonding experience it was for the three of us made it priceless. If I could, I would visit it every weekend just to clear my mind and be at peace. It was just a beautiful metaphor that I’m so grateful to have experienced.
We drove up a winding road, where we couldn’t see how far or close we were to our destination. Once we reached the top, we were in awe of its grandeur and beauty, but, to really appreciate and absorb what it has to offer, we had to move past our nerves, conquer our fear of heights, and climb up those stairs to the top of the rock. Once at the top of the top, you see everything clearly and you’re above it all. You’ve accomplished that, but then you feel the wind pushing against you and you see there is no railing, so you remember a careless decision can take it all away from you. At the same time, you’re in the middle of trees and nature, sitting on a giant boulder covered in graffiti.
The juxtaposition of city life and wilderness. The vulnerability and tranquility. The sense of accomplishment. It all seemed to mirror my life perfectly. It’s experiencing things like this when you realize everything happens for a reason.