14 Miles of the AT, Vistas, and More
This 14-mile trek along Maryland’s Appalachian Trail includes a visit to two natural wonders as well as a peculiar manmade Presidential wonder. The natural wonders are the spectacular vistas at Annapolis Rock and Black Rock Cliff. The peculiar manmade wonder is the first Washington Monument, which was erected according to legend by the good (and slightly inebriated) citizens of Boonsboro MD on July 4, 1827, and then re-constructed by the CCC in the 1930s. In between are 7 miles of the Appalachian Trail. We’ll start at Washington Monument State Park, hike the 7 miles to Black Rock Cliff, have lunch, and then return stopping at Annapolis Rock and the first Washington Monument along the way. Total length of this moderately strenuous hike is 14 miles with less than 1,000 feet of elevation gain. Bring beverages, lunch, sturdy boots, sunscreen, bug spray and about $10 for transportation and trip fees. For those interested, we will have an optional post-hike dinner at fun and delicious Dan’s Restaurant & Taphouse in Boonsboro. Meet at 8:30 a.m. at the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Station.
Blackberry Ice Cream Hike & Splash
(Sat); Craig(202) 462-0535
Here's another variation on our popular summertime series of treks that are focused not just on the hiking but also on the treats we'll indulge in afterwards. Today's itinerary will begin with a descent from Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park just north of Stony Man Mountain down to the historic (and still much used) Corbin Cabin. Then we'll follow the Nicholson Hollow Trail until we reach the point where the trail crosses the Hughes. Here we shall Lollygag Dynamically (TM) no little time in a pool more than suitable for sitting, wading, splashing, and maybe even swimming (but don't count on that). We'll use different trails to get back to our cars. Then it's on to Skyland Lodge Mountain Taproom for their better-than-ever blackberry ice cream or whatever. Total length of our moderate-to-strenuous semi-circuit will be about 7.7 miles, with 1600 feet of elevation gain on the return leg, none of it especially steep or rocky. Bring plenty of beverages, lunch, bug spray, sunscreen, swimsuit and towel, about $25 for transportation, admission and trip fees, and whatever you want to spend at Skyland. We'll carpool at 9 a.m. from the East Falls Church Metro Kiss & Ride lot (to your right as you walk out of the station) and might not be back before dark.
Austin Mountain-Furnace Mountain Hike
(Sat); Peter(202) 302-9606
Kick off your Labor Day Weekend with this VERY STRENUOUS hike in the southern section of Shenandoah National Park overlooking Port Republic, VA. Our itinerary offers great views and varied terrain, particularly along the Austin Mountain Trail, atop the Furnace Mountain summit and at the the Blackrock summit, which provides some of the most stunning vistas in the entire Park. The 13.5-mile circuit hike with approximately 3000 feet of elevation gain is for aerobically fit, experienced hikers only. Long sections of the trail include hiking along talus (broken rock) slopes that are exposed to the sun. Bring plenty of water (at least 3 liters), lunch, bug spray, sunscreen and about $25 for transportation, admission and trip fees. We will stop at the Sheetz in Madison, Virginia on our way to the trailhead, where you can buy made-to-order sandwiches for lunch. We plan to stop for dinner at Giovanna's in Madison on the way back.
Meet at 8 a.m. at the East Falls Church Metro Kiss & Ride lot, at N. 19th Street & Sycamore. Because of both the length of the the hike and the distance from the DC area, we likely will not get back until after 9 p.m.
Old Town Alexandria-National Harbor Hike
(Mon); Craig(202) 462-0535
Come join us on our annual Labor Day hike from Alexandria to National Harbor. Starting from the King Street Metro Station, this time we will take a leisurely stroll through Old Town Alexandria before arriving at Alexandria National Cemetery. From there we will head toward the Alexandria waterfront via the Wilkes Street tunnel. We will enjoy spectacular views underneath the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and then head to nearby Jones Point Park for lunch before crossing the bridge. Our 1.1-mile crossing of the Potomac should be a delightful experience, as we enjoy more magnificent views before arriving at the National Harbor development. At this point there will be an option to check out the new MGM Casino; Cher will be in the house, so keep your eyes open. With or without a Cher sighting, we will be carried back by water taxi to the Alexandria docks, close to the free trolley that heads back to the King Street Metro. Total length of this easy-to-moderate one-way hike will be approximately 7 miles. Bring plenty of beverages, lunch, the $2 trip fee, $8 for the water taxi, and as much as you won't mind squandering away at the Casino. Do bring your own lunch, since it eats up too much time if everybody tries to buy lunches en route. Lots of water, sunscreen, and bug spray are also in order. Meet at 10 a.m. at the station attendant's kiosk inside the King Street Metro.
Big Schloss Hike
(Sat); Peter(202) 302-9606
This strenuous hike near the VA/WV state border in the George Washington National Forest features 360-degree views of the Great North Mountain area from the Big Schloss outcrop. The 13-mile circuit hike with approximately 2300 feet of elevation gain is for aerobically fit, experienced hikers only. Nearly all of the elevation gain comes early in the hike during the ascent up the Stony Creek Trail to Sugar Knob Cabin. The hike is almost entirely in the woods. Big Schloss itself is the only viewpoint, but believe me, that will be plenty. Bring plenty of water (at least 3 liters), lunch, bug spray, sunscreen and about $20 for transportation and trip fees. We will stop at a Sheetz along the way to the trailhead, where you can buy made-to-order sandwiches for lunch.
Meet at 8 a.m. in the East Falls Church Metro Station Kiss & Ride lot. The drive to the trailhead will take about 2 hours, and the hike itself should take about 7 hours. We likely will get back to the East Falls Church Metro station between 7 and 7:30 p.m.
Whiteoak Canyon-Robertson Mountain Hike
(Sat); Jackson(410) 422-9257
Distance: 14.3 miles
Elevation gain: 4500 feet
Difficulty: **Very strenuous**
This is a repeat of the highly successful hike last month, combining the beautiful Whiteoak Canyon with the challenging Robertson Mountain in the heart of Shenandoah National Park. Beginning at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, we will first climb Whiteoak Canyon amidst multiple splendid waterfalls, then head down a valley through the narrow, secluded Corbin Hollow Trail and finally charge up the Robertson Mountain Trail for a hearty workout and a spellbinding view of the valley.
Be warned: Robertson Mountain is an infamously nasty beast to conquer, with a steep and sustained ascent that will test your limits! The elevation gain for this hike is disproportionately high for a typical hike of this distance. As a rule of thumb, **you should be able to do a 10-mile hike comfortably** in order to attempt this hike. If you are unsure whether this hike is suitable for you, please discuss with the trip leader.
We'll carpool at 8:30 a.m. from the East Falls Church Metro Kiss & Ride lot. Bring plenty of water, lunch, sturdy footwear, bug spray, sunscreen and about $20 for transportation and trip fees. A post-hike change of shirt is optional but usually recommended for your own comfort. The regular Sheetz stop en route to our trailhead will provide the opportunity to purchase your favorite snack or sandwich. On the way home, we may stop for dinner. Because of the duration of the hike, we can expect to return to East Falls Church Metro Station after dark.
Wintergreen Hiking Weekend
(Fri-Sun); Craig(202) 462-0535
This will be Adventuring's second weekend of hiking the Blue Ridge mountains south of Shenandoah National Park based at fabulous Wintergreen, a sprawling year-round mountain resort with comfortable accommodations, several excellent restaurants, and a wide range of amenities and distractions to amuse us when we're not hiking.
I have reserved us a 5-bedroom house for the weekend of Friday September 22 through Sunday the 24th. Our place includes 7 separate beds, a full kitchen, 4 bathrooms, living and dining rooms, a fireplace, a deck and washer/dryer.
Saturday's hike will be a long and strenuous outing on the Appalachian Trail featuring outstanding views (weather permitting) of the impressive mountain called The Priest. Sunday's hike is TBA but will be something off the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway, probably not either Crabtree Falls or Humpback Rocks, since we've been to both of those places recently.
The ONLY way to reserve your spot for this excursion is to mail me a deposit check for $160, which will cover your accommodations for the two nights. I will not open RSVPs on Meetup, since too many people have done so for similar excursions but then did not send in their deposits. Make your $160 check payable to "Craig Howell" and mail it to my home address: 1825 T Street NW, Unit 206, Washington, DC 20009. You will get a full refund if you cancel before Tuesday September 5.
When you send in your deposit, please let me know whether you can be a carpool driver or will need a ride. We'll work out exact carpool plans later. There is parking for two cars at our place.
Team DC Promotes LGBT Sports in DC Area
Team DC is a charitable organization providing information on the many LGBT sports and recreation groups in the Washington DC area, educating the LGBT community on the benefits of individual and team sports participation, and working within the broader community to dispel discrimination against LGBT people participating in sports. You can subscribe to their Sportsgram or find out more about LGBT sports and recreation in the DC area by visiting the Team DC website: teamdc.org
Pick the Place—Set the Pace—Be the Face
Have you ever wanted to be the one who decides where Adventuring goes? Have you ever thought, “I would like to set the pace?” Have you thought, “More people like me should be on this trip.” Become a Trip Leader, and you can pick the place, set the pace AND be the new face of Adventuring!
Adventuring’s volunteer Trip Leaders hone leadership skills while having fun with friends. Trip Leaders share practical tips with each other while serving Adventuring’s unique mission—opening up the Great Outdoors to the LGBT community!
Becoming a Trip Leader is easy and free. Contact the Program Coordinator in your area of interest listed at http://www.adventuring.org/about.htm , or simply contact any one on our Program Coordinators (either Woods Coordinator or Other Coordinator) listed at http://www.adventuring.org/about.htm.
Adventuring will pair you with a current Trip Leader with similar interests, and the two of you will plan and conduct your first Adventure together. Once you are comfortable with the process—then you get to pick the place, set the pace and be the new face of Adventuring!
New Partnership with REI
Adventuring – LGBT Outdoors Club announced their decision to partner with recreational retailer REI for some joint special activities throughout 2016. Adventuring and REI kicked off their new partnership during the week after Capital Pride 2016 in Washington, DC with two great adventures right here in our Nation’s Capital. The DC BYOBike Tour was held on Wednesday, June 15th and the DC Monuments Sunset Kayak Tour was held on Friday, June 17th. More details and photos can be found on the Adventuring.org website or our Meetup and Facebook pages. Adventuring also held a Summer Happy Hour at the REI Community Space at Wunder Garden on Thursday, August 18th. We look forward to holding more of these co-promoted events in the future.
Adventuring continues it's partnership with the Capital Climbers (LGBT rock climbing group) http://www.capitalclimbers.com/ that began in 2015. One of the highlights of this partnership is the annual Big Meadows/Meteor Shower Weekend held in Shenandoah National Park in early August. The Capital Climbers reserve campground spaces while Adventuring reserves a block of rooms at Big Meadows Lodge which members from each group are welcome to stay at either location. Adventuring plans two days of hiking along the SNP trails while the Capital Climbers set out to scramble the face of Stony Man summit. In the evening they come together at the lodge for drinks at the Tap Room, dinner in the dining room and a late night hike to the meadows to view the annual Perseid meteor shower.
Blackberry Ice Cream Hike Part I (Jeff)
You couldn’t have asked for a better day: sunny, breezy, with temps in the 70’s. A friendly group of 15 Adventurers took full advantage of this perfect weather as we hiked a particularly beautiful stretch of Shenandoah National Park. We began with the rugged climb to the summit of Hawksbill, SNP’s highest peak, where we enjoyed the views and the inviting wind. Then, we followed the Appalachian Trail to Stony Man, Shenandoah’s second highest peak, where we again were met with spectacular views and cooling breezes. After a vigorous day, the group retired to Skyland Lodge where we indulged in a variety of SNP’s signature blackberry ice cream treats. This was Adventuring’s first hike after the Summer Solstice, hopefully representing a harbinger of many exciting adventures in the warmer months to come.
Blackberry Ice Cream Hike Part Deux (Craig)
We 14 Adventurers enjoyed a fantastic day of hiking in Shenandoah, with nearly wall-to-wall sunshine, comfortably warm temperatures, low humidity, great visibility, refreshing breezes, and hardly a raindrop in sight. Meanwhile, the DC area was getting pelted with massive thunderstorms! No idea how we managed to avoid such tribulations in the Blue Ridge. Anyway, the blackberry ice cream at Skyland afterwards was as scrumptious as ever. One odd note: We unexpectedly encountered quite a few Appalachian Trail thru-hikers, who seem to be several weeks behind schedule if they intend to reach Mount Katahdin in Maine before the snows fly. Peak season for AT thru-hikers in Shenandoah is late May-early June.
Independence Day Hike @ Great Falls (MD) (Jeff)
Normally our 4th of July hikes are insufferably hot and/or accompanied by a tropical deluge. This year Mother Nature was kind and gave us a glorious day for our little stroll. The Great Falls park though was not as accommodating as it barred entry to view the Great Falls themselves – always a highlight of the trip. No matter. 34 friendly Adventurers enjoyed the abundant beauties of the park minus the falls. There were many first-time Adventurers in the mix who we hope will join us for future sojourns in nature.
Billy Goat Trail Hike (Jeff and Matt)
A sunny day with blue skies made this hike along the Billy Goat Trail a most pleasant one. 19 Adventurers hiked several sections along the main C&O Canal towpath, interspersed with some fun but challenging rock scrambles. We enjoyed a brief lunch break by the Potomac, set to the gentle sound of nearby rapids. The group included both seasoned Adventurers and new friends. All in all, it was a lovely Saturday.
Bear Church Rock Hike (Peter)
Eight Adventurers set out for the central section of Shenandoah National Park on a sunny, dry (low humidity) and relatively cool day in mid-July. Our out-and-back hike followed first the Rapidan River (but that only briefly), and then tracked the Staunton River for a much longer time, before climbing steeply up the side of Jones Mountain to the Bear Church Rock overlook. After enjoying a long lunch break with a view looking into the heart of Shenandoah NP, the group retraced its 2200 foot climb back down the mountain, adding an extra jaunt to visit the Jone Mountain Cabin. All in all, it was a wonderful day in the park.
Cunningham Falls-Catoctin Mountain Hike (Jackson)
(This trip was postponed to August 5 because of predicted rains. Here is Jackson's trip report for what he substituted on July 29, an 11-mile hike on Catoctin Mountain.)
For a hike put together and posted in less than 24 hours, this last-minute replacement was quite a success by many measures. For one, we avoided the rains elsewhere in the area for a mostly dry day at Catoctin, with remaining precipitation wrung out of the departing stratiform clouds while we were well sheltered inside our car. For another, it was an uncharacteristically cool summer day, with temperatures low enough for us to comfortably prance through the palette of Catoctin overlooks but not so frosty that we had to snuggle inside our jackets. It was still in the afternoon that four Adventurers returned home, a mission well accomplished for an adventure on so short a notice.
Whiteoak Canyon-Robertson Mountain Hike (Jackson)
The one-week postponement of this hike because of inclement weather proved to be an excellent decision. For one thing, the weather was outstanding, a stark contrast to last week's: a cloudless day with low humidity and cool temperatures throughout the hike. For another, all four Adventurers demonstrated remarkable tenacity in this extremely strenuous hike, notwithstanding the underestimation in the hike description by 1.3 miles in distance and 900 feet in elevation gain. And it was a pleasant solitude, away from the throngs of Whiteoak Canyon and Old Rag, that we Adventurers savored atop Robertson Mountain while recounting the three separate encounters we had with the same juvenile bear on the way up. This bear, clearly not a responsible hiker, was witnessed skulking between the trees, trampling over the undergrowth, and defecating near the trail. Leaving this delinquent behind, we made it back to East Falls Church Metro with daylight to spare.
ADVENTURING COMMITTEE CONTACTS
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Leaders to make Adventuring's activities tick. Please
call them if you have any ideas, questions about our
events, hikes, rides and splashes, or if you want to
volunteer your skills.