This trail is an entity that fascinates me; it’s a being created from the contiguous natures of humans and the earth. Someone conceived of a path that would begin at a point on another path, crossing over fields and streams, through forests, along roads and alleys between backyards. Many people contributed to building the trail and many others since have given their weight to the task of tramping down enough of the flora to keep it in view. I still have to learn more about Bob Yost, who is credited with having founded the trail. He died in the not too distant past; there’s a memorial granite marker in the Iron Hill Park in Newark I’ve visited.
People sometime confuse the Mason-Dixon Trail with the Mason Dixon Line; both have their own history. I assume that the trail (which came many, many moons after the line was laid) was named because it very loosely crosses over the line a couple of times. Who knows (really, comment if you do)?
This trail passes through some of the most picaresque (I like this spelling of the word… seen on many late nineteenth century albums) scenes in the mid Atlantic. It also passes through some sad, run down neighborhoods. I’ll be photographing along the way, of course, and will try to snap some of all the colors and shades I notice. I have to remember to lift up mine eyes, so to speak, and stop watching where I’m stepping.
Yesterday, in fact both yesterday and the day before, I went out to the areas between Perryville and Northeast, Maryland, to scope out a section that is listed on the map/turnsheet as having been under development in 2004. The map/turnsheet indicates the trail as it was supposed to have become, but in fact the developers (Principio Business Park) have never gotten around to creating the rerouted trail and, well, a good long while was spent scratching my head as to where I should head to continue “on trail.” This is, after all, one of my most important tasks: to stay on trail. I gave up the first day and found out through some of the trail’s veteran hikers that the reroute had not taken place, so yesterday I returned and figuered out where to go. The old marks, sky blue blazes, 2″ x 6″ streaks of color on ides of trees, or curbs, or rock, fade or are moved or, in the case of trees, return to the ground in blowdowns (those pesky trees that don’t have the sense to fall away from the trail).
One section of the trail, about 50 feet long, in the area was thick with sawbriars (those tentacles that make the pricks of wild raspberry plants seem like a gentle message by comparison). Nobody had passed through that section of trail for many many months (years?).
Most of us don’t ever realize that a trail like this might even make its way across a familiar road we traverse every day on our way to work. I certainly didn’t know how the MDT passed accross 213 in downtown Elkton, for example. The blazes are there if you look closely, on the lamp posts or on the telephone posts, directing the wandering traveler to turn here, to push on there.
Some of the blazes are bright and clear, others are faded. The trail’s alive and reflects my life back to me, all the pushing on, the turns, the getting lost the paved way or the leaved track. I think this is why I’m going to traverse it.