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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Four Adventurers braved dire forecasts of all-day rain to hike the steep and scenic Little Devil Stairs Trail in Shenandoah National Park. Although there was rain on the drive out, there was nary a drop on the trail. Our group enjoyed cool, cloudy weather (it never topped 70 degrees F) while hiking through the lush green temperate rain forest that grows in the side canyons and hollows of the Park. We finished the hike at 2:30 p.m., at which time the clouds cleared and we drove back to Washington in brilliant sunshine. It was a strenuous but satisfying way to spend a Saturday.
Seven Adventurers headed out to the southern section of Shenandoah National Park to hike one of the most scenic trials in the Park on what turned out to be one of the loveliest days of the year. Mother Nature favored us with bright blue skies, moderate temperatures (low 70s), no humidity and many unobstructed views. It was Northern California weather but with intense greenery. The mountain laurel, which graced nearly the entire length of the trail, were in full bloom. After a strenuous 13-mile hike with nearly 3000 feet of elevation gain, about half of the party stopped in for dinner at Giovanna’s Italian Eatery in Madison, an Adventuring tradition.
Strictly speaking, I was the only Adventurer on this bike ride. The other five riders came to me by way of OutRiders. We had a mix of veteran and first-time DC-to-Baltimore riders. Larry, Paul, James, and I departed from Columbia Island Marina and zipped through downtown thanks to all the road closures for Rolling Thunder. At 1st & M Sts. NE we picked up Kenneth, and later Tom caught up with us just as we were turning onto Edmonston Rd. in Greenbelt. At the halfway point I was able to practice my bike mechanic skills learned at VeloCity when James experienced a problem with his front derailleur. Luckily my provisional fix was able to get him to Baltimore. As for the weather, it was almost perfect except for that little downpour we encountered in downtown Baltimore. No matter. We watched the rain fall as we ate a great lunch at Joe Squared. The rain had just about stopped by the time we finished lunch, and in a few blocks we were at the train station. My riding companions were great company. If you haven't experienced this ride yet make a point to try it in the future. I like it and I lead it a lot!
Our six Adventurers had thrills and chills galore today, but mostly before we took our first step. We encountered a major downpour on the drive to the trailhead, so long-lasting and severe that we detoured at the last minute to Graves Mountain Lodge to see if these conditions were going to last. Fortunately, the office manager there checked the radar screens on her computer and saw that the finally-departing storm was a rogue, with nothing bad behind it. Then the last mile of mountain road was not just unpaved but deeply eroded, with gaping canyons everywhere. Somehow our two cars (non-4WD) negotiated this perilous stretch to our parking area. We maintained a very fast pace to Hoover Camp, with just a little occasional light rain to contend with. We got a delightful tour of the Brown House from the volunteer rangers (husband & wife) stationed there for the summer. We were back at our lot on schedule. We ended our day with a leisurely dinner at the Northside 29 in New Baltimore.
Well, we knew rain was in the forecast, but we were hoping it would pass us by. No such luck. That said, it wasn't a total washout, and our group of nine had come prepared with raingear. On the plus side, there were plenty of trilliums to see, though they looked a little bedraggled because of the rain. There was also an abundance of mayapple and wild geranium. Check out our photo album on Meetup or Facebook. We ate our lunch in the dry comfort of an AT trail shelter. The last part of our 8+ mile hike was undoutedly the most difficult. We had a rather long descent on a slick, muddy trail, and then had to wade across a rushing, knee-high stream. At least that washed all the mud from our boots. We stopped at a bakery in Marshall on the way home, and then one of our two cars decided that a stop at Spa World in Centreville would warm us and soothe our weary bodies. Thanks to Sherry for that great idea and to Thang for finding us a Groupon discount for Spa World!
Sometimes one has to travel afar to find beautiful places; sometimes it is just outside our doorstep. Patapsco Valley State Park, located just this side of Baltimore, is a remarkable gem that rarely figures in Adventuring trips. But on this Sunday morning, six Adventurers found themselves beneath a sunny sky, defiant against the forecast of rain, and hiked the lush green valley and swollen streams as the trees awaken from their winter slumber. One particular trail, flanked by bursting vernal leaves, a stream glimmering under the sunlight, almost devoid of people, was an unexpected but heavenly treat. It was with buoyed spirits that the Adventurers departed the magnificent valley, while there was still plenty of sunlight in the sky.
26 Adventurers met at the Arboretum's Visitors Center not far from the R Street NE entrance. Our first "ramble," as the hike's name implies, lasted about an hour as we explored the collection of azaleas. Our general consensus was that the flowers were pretty close to their peak bloom period. Many pictures supporting this conclusion were captured and posted to social media. Our group's next excursion was across the Arboretum in the Asian Collection. We traversed rolling hills as the sun continued with warming influences, which created perfect conditions to highlight the Camillia collections within this section. By noontime we settled down to a relaxing lunch enjoying the peaceful banks of the Anacostia River. After lunch we made a short visit to the restored original National Capitol Columns that punctuate the meadow's grandeur. We gathered here for a parting group photo, and then bid our farewells. Following this smaller groups ventured through other Arboretum areas such as the Bonsai pavilions or the National Grove of State Trees.
Maybe unique in Adventuring’s 38-year history, this hike turned out to be an a la carte Chinese menu “Pick Your Own Hike” type of adventure. We had 13 participants with 5 variations of what they did that day. Adding to the fun was the fact that a number of us were having such a good time at dinner in Harpers Ferry that we missed the final shuttle bus to the Visitors Center; as a result, we had an unscheduled hike (mostly uphill) in the early evening to get back to our cars. So without further ado, here is how 13 Adventurers explored the peaks around Harpers Ferry on the 8th of April, 2017:
2 of us hiked to Jefferson Rock (A) and Loudoun Heights (B), as well as the unplanned “bonus" hike in the evening to the Visitors Center (let’s label that one, Z);
4 of us did A and B, as well as the Maryland Heights Overview (C);
4 of us did A, B, C, and Z;
1 of us did his own hike to the Murphy-Chambers farm, followed by C and the Maryland Heights Stone Fort (D);
AND 2 of us (including your trusty scribe) actually did the entire hike as scheduled (A, B, C, D) as well as bonus Z, resulting 14.5 total miles hiked that day.
Fortunately, we had glorious spring weather for this escapade and even those of us who missed the last shuttle eventually got home.
Let it be recorded in Adventuring's history that, on the first day of the month of April in the year 2017, in Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin National Park, two Adventurers hiked 18.5 miles with an elevation gain of 4,350 feet in 6 hours and 45 minutes. The end, out.
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