Maryland Outdoor Club
Sat, May 10 2008 - A River Runs By It Hike (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): Bryan Frank
Participants:Bryan Frank, Douglas Boorstein, Michelle Dacey, Martine Polycarpe, Ali Badii, Cynthia Ritchie, Nathan Rich, Stefan Mouyal, Jeff Gochnour, Mara, Carl Beard, Giadira Leon

Write Up:
The down pouring rain on Friday night gave me some concern about whether or not we would be able to hike the Great Falls, MD area the following day. When I went to bed, I thought I might have to cancel the hike, much to my chagrin. When I woke up early on Saturday and looked out the window, I saw gray skies and wet streets. Checking the weather radar, I saw that the heavy stuff had already passed by the area and was headed on toward Annapolis and Baltimore. Looking back outside, I vacillated for a few minutes and then decided: "Let's go anyway. It's just a bit of water, and I need to do something today!"

So I sent out an email saying that we were still going. That's when the phone calls started coming in. And that's when the cancellations started arriving. The group had reached its maximum of 17 people during the week leading up to the day of the hike. But the threat of heavy rain and the look of the skies Saturday morning changed many people's minds, and I don't blame them. It did not look appealing outside.

But six other people braved the threatening skies and joined me at the Carderock Parking area at the east end of the Great Falls area. Everyone made it to the correct parking area, but due to a fault in my directions there was just a little bit of confusion about which parking lot. (Mental note: remember to put "turn right at the stop sign" and not leave the left or right turn open for interpretation.) After some phone calls, we all made it to the right parking lot and we gathered in the misting rain. It was really more that you could see that it was kind of raining, but you didn't really get wet. And that was the most it rained for the entire duration of the hike.

We set out along the towpath, crossed over at Angler's Inn and hiked up the Valley Trail and around the Gold Mind Loop on the north side of the canal. We emerged at the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center and stopped for a break to watch a demonstration of donkeys pulling a barge up the canal. We wandered out to the Great Falls Overlook to gaze at the raging waters (I would have to say probably Class IV-V rapids right now). We hiked back along the towpath and voted not to attempt the Billy Goat A trail given the wet and slippery conditions and the difficulty level of that trail. We strolled along the towpath and then meandered off into the woods to hike the Billy Goat B and C trails. We emerged back on the towpath and headed back to the cars as the clouds started to break apart and the sun shined down on us.

What started out as a threatening day turned into a gorgeous stroll through the woods. The wildlife was out in force. I have never seen so many blue herons. Turtles "sunned" themselves on logs. A dead carcass floated in waters of the canal. Pelicans sat out on the rocks. We saw throngs of kayakers paddling on the Potomac and along the canal. We came upon a group of kayakers in the canal right as one of them sped toward a gap in a dam and launched himself over the edge. We got to see him plunge into the waters below.

Upon finishing the hike, we headed over to Bethesda for late lunch at BD's Mongolian Grill for some "create-your-own" barbeque. And then we all parted ways and headed home. Overall, after a few hiccups with the parking lot situation, we had a wonderful hike. I would have to say that people got more muddy than wet. And if anyone got wet, it was below the ankle due to the puddles and streams we had to cross and not from any rain. I hope everyone who attended was glad the hike was not cancelled and that they had a great time.

- Bryan



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