It took tremendous strength of character to be out on the cold and windy morning, but this was precisely what nine Adventurers did for a Sunday Cherry Blossom hike around the Tidal Basin in mid-March. However, the Cherry Blossoms have had better years, for the Dark Forces That Hate All Things Beautiful colluded to wreak havoc on DC's beloved flowers. Nevertheless, our Adventurers boldly stared down the wintry morning and enjoyed a brisk exercise free of hustling crowds. One thing for sure, next year's hike will be better!
What was meant to be a typical hike in George Washington National Forest turned into a Trial of True Adventurers for our seven hardy souls. The first sign of deviation from our plan was the closure of the forest road to the trailhead. Thankfully, with the ingenuity of many minds, we identified an alternative path to our destination. However, the reason for the road closure soon became apparent: Great North Mountain was thickly layered with the remnants of the winter storm from the past week. But mere snow was no deterrent to our band of Adventurers. We plowed onwards to Big Schloss, at times blazing a path through feet of virgin snow, slipping and tumbling but never faltering. The perseverance of the Adventurers was handsomely rewarded with unrivaled views of the naked beauty of Nature snuggled in the snow. Despite covering only half the planned distance, the effort was a challenge more strenuous than the original 13 miles, proving that these Magnificent Seven embodied the true spirit of Adventuring.
The coldest weather since early January held down our attendance to just nine, but the day was actually pretty comfortable, thanks to endless sunshine and light winds. More people were out on the battlefield than you might have expected, but we always had plenty of elbow room. We had a very interesting chat with some volunteer "Battlefield Ambassadors" hanging around the Cornfield to answer visitor questions. Someone calculated we walked about 6.5 miles in several segments, mostly within shouting distance of the Visitors Center and the rest around Burnside Bridge. We ended just after 4 p.m., giving us plenty of time for a relaxing stop at Nutter's in beautiful downtown Sharpsburg to fill up on ice cream.
Ten Adventurers embarked on what is probably the longest Adventuring hike in many months. Bravely bearing witness to what we hoped would be the last gasp of winter, we wove our way through a myriad of trails in Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin National Park under a sunny sky. The 15 miles and the many steep and continuous uphills were a challenge, but it is a reflection of the strength and endurance of the Adventurers that we completed our hike before sundown in a season when Nature was still thrifty with her daylight.
Five of us spent a long day taking advantage of the early appearance of warm Spring weather and sunshine with views from Loudoun Heights and Maryland Heights. The only surprise was the chill wind blowing from the west on the Loudoun Heights overlook, reminding us that, yes, this was still February. But at least we had the outcropping all to ourselves for our entire visit. Maryland Heights, drenched in sunshine and protected from the wind, was more like a crowded beach with beautiful views and sunbathing with a large number of your "best friends." A sighting of a circling Bald Eagle more than balanced out any hard feelings.
Fourteen Adventurers hiked 14 miles on a beautiful “spring” day, where the temperatures reached the low 70’s even though it was only February 18. Hiking mostly along the Appalachian Trail in Maryland, we started at the Washington Monument State Park and trekked 7 miles to the spectacular rock outcroppings of Black Rock Cliff, where we had our lunch. Then on our return trek, we stopped to take in the panoramic view offered by Annapolis Rocks. We ended the hike on this President’s Day weekend at the first monument to our first President, George Washington. Erected by the good citizens of Boonsboro in 1827 (supposedly after a copious consumption of spirits), this Washington Monument preceded the completion of that upstart in the District of Columbia by more than six decades. After the hike, six of us decided to follow the example of the good citizens of Boonsboro by descending on Dan’s Restaurant and Tap House in Boonsboro, where after consuming a large quantity of great brews and comfort foods, we made our way home. Maybe next year, we’ll repeat the experience and this time erect our own monument.
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