In the forest primeval

Personal Journeys

My favorite placeMidway through...

October 25, 1998|By Thomas H. Bauer | Thomas H. Bauer,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In the forest primeval; My favorite place

Midway through our vacation in Costa Rica, my wife and I decided to hike to Santo Cristo Falls. Driving up into the mountains from the Pacific Coast, we eventually located the steep, narrow, dirt road that led to the trail head in the valley below. Being fiscal-minded travelers, we had booked our trip during the period between the rainy season and the high (dry) season. The cheaper rates and uncrowded parks were balanced out by a little mud in the backcountry. After a lightning-quick assessment that our rental car would not make the return trip up that hill, we made the hour-long hike down.

The trail to the falls followed the rain-swollen river back up into the rain forest. As we forded the waist-deep river and headed away from the road, each step led us into an impossibly green world far from civilization. The steep path down to the waterfall had makeshift handrails fashioned out of vines and branches tied together. And, boy, did we need them!

As we got closer, quick peeks through the dense foliage and the increasing roar heightened our excitement. Finally, we arrived on the riverbank at the base of the 215-foot high Santo Cristo Falls: just the two of us with our own private jungle waterfall. The water thundered over the 140-foot upper falls before gently cascading down the 75-foot lower falls into an incredibly blue pool. If I had taken my camping gear, we might still be there!

We spent the entire afternoon lounging next to that pool with sandwiches, fruit purchased at a stand on the way in and a bottle of wine that I had packed along. On our way back up, we noticed a small wooden sign off to one side that said, in Spanish and English: "NO NAKED BATHING." If only the water were a few degrees warmer ...

Whenever the Baltimore summer air feels like wet corduroy on your skin, or the pressure of work threatens to make your head explode, the cool breezes from this mountain waterfall blow it all away into the mist.

Thomas H. Bauer lives in Baltimore.

@ Skyline Drive, Va.

Amanda Reeder, Annapolis

"[Skyline] offers several possibilities to relish the wonderful autumn landscapes. You can walk or hike through the mountains, picnic on the lush hills, or drive up the winding mountains to enjoy the breathtaking scenic overlooks."

Renaissance Festival

Jonathan Bronson, Annapolis

"I like it there because it gives me a sense of peace. I can just imagine right now the leaves crunching under my shoes as I walk along the clearing. I feel happy when I am there, and that feeling stays forever."

Western Maryland

Bill Ingley, Joppatowne

"Years ago, I drove a truck to Western Mary-land once a week. The view from the top of Sideling Hill was breathtaking when the change came from deep green to hues of yellow, red and orange. The sun would cause the colors to explode into sight. I'll never forget it."

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Please answer in 50 words or less. Send via fax to 410-783-2519, or write to: Travel Department, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St.,

Baltimore, Md. 21278.

Pub Date: 10/25/98

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