Posts Tagged ‘Camp David’

Babies on the Rocks
Little Catoctin Mountain Park is sort of a red-headed stepchild of the National Park System. It’s just a “park”, not a “national park” nor a “national monument” nor a “national historic park” nor any other such designation. It doesn’t have any grand natural wonders: no canyons, no snow-capped peaks, no staggering escarpments, no 2,000-year old trees. It doesn’t have herds of buffalo, grizzly bears, elk, or endangered manatees. Maybe a few bald eagles, that’s about it.

It does fit two good niches, however. First, a portion of Catoctin was carved out and turned into the Presidential retreat of Camp David, site of important moments in American history from FDR’s war councils, to the Sadat-Begin summit in ’78, to Iraq war lie crafting by the Bush administration. I’m sure having a National Park Service site as a neighbor helps with Camp David’s security and secrecy (although ask any pizza delivery guy in the area and you’ll get instant directions to the place, proving that even the greatest military power in world history still travels on its stomach).

Vista © 2008 America In Context

The second, and in my opinion more important, niche that Catoctin fills is it’s status as a destination campground available to millions of people in the greater Baltimore-Washington metropolis. I’m a firm believer that everyone should have access to the great outdoors, especially those in the big cities who might otherwise not even think about trees & forests. In Catoctin’s case, it provides access for millions in just an hour’s drive or so. It certainly seemed quite popular when I visited: the campground area was nearly sold out, and dozens of folks were hiking the trails.

Wolf Rock © 2008 America In ContextThere’s a popular spot in Catoctin called Wolf Rock, a flat granite expanse full of cool nooks & crannies. Hopping over all the crevices is pretty entertaining, especially for the pre-teens in the crowd. Boys and girls alike were having all sorts of fun clambering over the rocks and jumping the various pits & cracks in the rock face. Just good, old-fashioned, dangerous fun, the kind kids have been having for hundreds of years. I’m not one of those adults who think kids should be prevented from having dangerous fun, the danger is part of the fun and needs to be embraced by kids. After all, it’s healthier than sitting in a sheltered environment playing video games. Let’s see: a slight risk of a head injury, or a near certain future of obesity and Type 2 diabetes? I’ll take the craggy rocks, thank you.

Say No To Crack © 2008 America In ContextBut let’s get realistic here. After my own brief experience hopping craggy rocks (much more difficult on 40-year-old joints than 12-year-old joints), I headed back to the trail. I passed a group of young adults with backpacks, obviously ready for their own turn on Wolf Rock. Turning for a polite “good morning” to my fellow park enthusiasts, I noticed one of them actually had a baby on a backpack carrier, ready to walk on craggy Wolf Rock! Now I think kids need to be exposed to the risks of the world, and I don’t think parents of young children should be captive in their own homes, but come on! It’s a craggy rock face full of sharp points and deep crevices, and you bring your baby with you? Come on, kiddies! You’re parents now, show some responsibility, for God’s sake! Taking the baby into the woods is fine, but be careful where you’re walking, folks.

I’ve seen lots of people doing stupid things in the National Parks, but bringing a baby onto Wolf Rock is definitely in the Top Ten Stupidest list.

Rolling Hills © 2008 America In Context

[All pics on this post are mine and copyrighted thusly. This is just about the extent of my pics of Catoctin, however. It’s a nice spot, to be sure, it’s just not particularly photogenic. A couple more photos can be found here]


Catoctin Mountain Park

Brief History of Camp David

Google map to Catoctin Mountain Park

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