Friday, June 24, 2011

EXPERIMENTAL CONTROL PLOT






I love to hike. My husband hates to hike. Thus I end up hiking alone A LOT. This usually does not pose a major problem, since I primarily hike in the woods by my house and the biggest risk factor is a tick. (Although my neighbor swears she saw a bear) When I'm at our Deep Creek Lake house, there are many hiking options. When pressed for time or hiking solo, I typically stick to the state park trail 5 minutes from my house. In/Out in 60-70 minutes and park rangers seem plentiful should any disaster strike, such as snake bite, bear attack or twisted ankle.

After hiking said trail 5 DAYS IN A ROW, I am sick of looking at the same rocks and trees. I decide to venture out somewhere new. Honey, do you want to go for a hike with me? That sounds like too much work. I'd rather fix the dock. What does it mean if the map says that the trails are unblazed? It means that you will get lost. People tell me all the time that it is UNSAFE to hike by myself in the WOODS. They are right; it is unsafe. (Clearly this is not an incentive for him to accompany me)

REASONS WHY I'M NOT SUPPOSED TO HIKE ALONE
Reason 1: Axe murdering rapists could be lurking, ready to attack.
Clearly someone's watched Deliverance one too many times. Most of the trails are very remote and I rarely encounter another person. An ax-murdering rapist could grow old waiting for a woman to hike by. He would have better luck lurking at the honi honi bar where scantily clad girls down copious amounts of alcohol.

Reason 2: Bears could be lurking, ready to attack
Black bears do populate the forests, but they are the small, friendly, black kind that are more scared of you than you are of them. I keep hoping to see one, but haven't had much luck. Only 1 sighting in 8 years. My husband however sees them frequently outside our house eating the neighbors' garbage. Last night, he woke up at 3am, because he SMELLED a bear. This from the man who can't even smell his own gas.

Reason 3: I could break my leg. No one would find me and I'd have to cut off my leg and eat it to survive.
I concede that this COULD happen. Not sure how I'd cut off my leg, since I don't carry a knife. Most forests do not have cell phone coverage, so I might be stranded for a while. I decide that this is a risk I will take.

I choose a trail called SNAGGY MOUNTAIN. It is a 9 mile moderate hike.
Directions: go past Roman Nose Blvd, Cheeks Lane, The Saw Shop and Drunken Brethern Church. In the dip of the road before Herrington Manor, pull over and park. It starts to rain 2
minutes into the hike. It's remote and I do not see any other hikers or ax-murdering rapists. I don't even see footprints or pawprints to indicate recent visitation by hungry black bears.

I pass through a meadow and see a sign in the middle of the woods that says DO NOT DISTURB. I assume this is a park ranger's idea of a joke. Do not disturb the nature. ha ha. Like anyone in their right mind would wander off the trail into the tick-filled grass to touch a tree. Of course now that I've seen the sign, I'm a bit curious and I venture into the tick grass to get a closer look.

That's when I see the OTHER SIGN. Experimental Control Plot. I think I've watched too many seasons of Lost, because I immediately think of the episode where the Lost crew discovers the hatch in the middle of the forest. What is the plot? Is it a grave plot that I'm not supposed to disturb? How can it be both experimental and controlled? Who is controlling it? Perhaps the government is plotting secret experiments in the Garrett Forest, as part of their anti-terrorism campaign and they've enlisted all the axe-murdering rapists to assist them? In case the plot is booby trapped with a bomb, I keep a respectful distance of 5 feet. My cell phone does not have a zoom, which prevents me from getting proper documentation of this covert plot.

I hike back out with no unexpected encounters with animal, plant or alien life.
To be continued....
radioactive orange mushrooms a few hundred yards from the experimental control plot.

stormy meadow near the experimental control plot

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