The last thing I expected to see on my Rock Creek hike last Tuesday was two weird looking heads pop up above a guard rail alongside Broad Branch Road.
I was crossing the road on my way to the Western Ridge Trail. They looked like birds, but with bald heads. Vultures, perhaps? When I made it across the street, I took a closer look. And I saw two wild turkeys.
I knew there were wild turkeys in Rock Creek Park, but I had never seen seen any there before. The turkeys ambled to the stream.
I ambled my own way along the road, making a left onto Ridge Road and then another left onto Western Ridge Trail.
And lo and behold – there they were again, strolling up the trail. I quietly closed in, hoping to get a decent photo.
They let me keep pace with them. I started to wonder whether I would have to follow them all the way to the top of the ridge. Just as I was slowing my pace to adjust to theirs, I saw another hiker coming toward me with a dog. The turkeys quickly turned off the trail.
The hiker had spotted them too, and asked whether these turkeys were a usual sighting in the park. I told her they weren’t – at least for me.
It’s more common to hear the wood thrush singing its little heart out.
It never gets old.
Before my turkey encounter, I had to get through a beech tree that had fallen on the Soapstone Trail.
I emailed the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and Park Service Ranger Bill Yeaman about it early that afternoon. But when PATC trail supervisor Mitch Baer went to check it out later that day, he found the tree had already been cleared.
Who had done the work so quickly? Yeaman told me in an email that fellow ranger Ken Ferebee cleared the trail and alerted the Hillwood Museum about the downed fence.
A big “thank you” goes out to all keeping the trails maintained and accessible, especially in these times. Covid-19 has made Rock Creek Park an even more precious resource.