Prettyboy Dam in the Hereford Zone of Baltimore County

I left my bike at home today and joined S. and J. for a hike in Gunpowder Falls State Park out in Baltimore County. Those two are fearless, but I’m a baby so we took a slow slide on mud and wet leaves above the river until we had our feet on more expansive flats. The air smelled like decaying leaves and fall and, according to S., just a little bit like licorice in a spots. We walked along, stopped to admire S.’s rock-skipping skills and J.’s apparent natural talent for the same, admired impressive mushrooms and wished for a Field Guild to Mushrooms, and enjoyed apples while sitting on a fallen tree. I impressed with my bravery on the walk back as I just shimmied right along. S. had to head to work, but J. and I took a side trip before heading home to see Prettyboy Reservoir, which holds a maximum of 30 billion gallons of water, according to the signs. If you know me, you know know I have a thing for infrastructure, so I was excited to take a walk around the dam built to hold back Gunpowder Falls. Water was shooting from one valve at the bottom, but even prettier were the sheets of water washing over and down the sides of the thing. This water enters Gunpowder Falls, then Loch Raven reservoir, and then through the Montebello Filtration Plants before becoming Baltimore City’s drinking water, which I just take from the tap without really thinking about it. There’s something terrifying to me about the hubris necessary to decide to just build a wall against a river, and the politics and economics of damming is anything but pretty. It sure looked that way today, though, all surrounded by blue skies and fall colors. Sometimes aesthetics interrupt my politics, and today they did. Just beautiful out there, all the prettier for getting out of the car and taking a walk.

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