The hike began with a quarter mile downhill section. There were some switchbacks but also some steep stuff. Near the Potomac River, I made a right to head downstream (toward DC). The first half hour I was climbing over rocks and fallen trees. The trail was rocky and I was focused on not turning my ankle. Several sections involved crossing narrow streams. I was surprised how little water was in them. The river, on the other hand, was raging. The trail come right down to the edge and the rocks made it a challenge to keep my feet dry.
In the past I have been exceptionally careful on rocks but today I trusted my balance. I have recently added some yoga balancing asanas to my daily back exercises. (It took me two weeks to stand on one foot for an extended period. My balance sucks.) Between this practice and the new orthotics I surprised myself over and over again. I never slipped once or turned an ankle.
In fact, I felt spring in my legs. Even to the point of breaking into a run on flat sections a couple of times. (My back is not happy about this.)
The rocky section gives way to a mile of flat smooth trail, mostly through bluebells. Now we’re talking.
About an hour into the hike I came upon a neighborhood of mansions that came right down to the river near Little Falls dam. The trail turns away from the river and becomes a roller coaster. At one point it even runs along the edge of the GW Parkway. This kind of killed the woodsy vibe.
I hiked until I came to a sign that indicated that I was 6 miles from Theodore Roosevelt Island. I decided to turn around here. In the future, I’ll park a couple of miles closer to DC at Chain Bridge and hike out to this point to finish the trail.
When I came back to the Parkway again, I was passed by a bicyclist on the road. This is illegal and extremely dangerous. The speed limit is 55 and there is no shoulder. I held my breath as I watched this nincompoop ride up the highway with cars braking hard as they approached him from the rear.
On the hike back I was passed by several runners. I don’t know how you can run on such a rocky trail but they were cruising. The flat section with bluebonnets is running heaven.
The climb back up to the start was tough. My lungs were working overtime.
I think I did just the right length for my first hike in weeks. I’m looking forward to returning to Shenandoah National Park in the months ahead.
Some more pictures are posted on my Flickr page.