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Mid-Atlantic News

  • 12 Apr 2010 7:06 PM | Kathleen (Administrator)
    The rock seam on the Billy Goat TrailLike we said, it's not called the Billy Goat Trail for nothing.  Almost 20 intrepid hikers set out on a beautiful clear day in April to experience the legendary Billy Goat Trail along the banks of the Potomac River. 

    Along the way, we were treated with Virginia bluebells galore.  Although the trail is only a few miles long, the rock scrambling makes it a challenge for even the most experienced of hikers.

    We lunched on an outcropping of rocks overlooking the Potomac River about 150' below us.  Kayakers below and herons and helicopters above caught our eye.

    Having tackled the hard part first, we meandered along the C & O Towpath back to the ever stunning Great Falls.  Who would believe this gorgeous hike is just a few miles outside our Nation's Capital?
  • 21 Mar 2010 2:17 PM | Kathleen (Administrator)
    On September 17, 1862, the Union and the Confederacy armies engaged in the bloodiest one day battle in U.S. history, claiming the lives of more than 3,600 soldiers and leaving more than 19,000 soldiers wounded or missing after brutal dawn to dusk combat.  The Battle of Antietam provided enough of a victory for the Union that President Lincoln was able to issue the Emancipation Proclamation shortly afterward.

    The Poffenberger FarmWe mustered bicyclists from Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania for our bike ride through Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, MD. The first day of spring actually felt like summer - bright sunshine and temperatures in the high 70s. After meeting at the visitor's center, we began our loop of the major battle sites, starting with the cornfield at the edge of the Poffenberger farm, where fighting began at dawn's first light. 

    Up in the observation towerWe next rode to the Sunken Road, later named Bloody Lane for all the Confederate soldiers who died there.  We ventured up the observation tower, built in the late 19th century for training purposes, for a bird's eye view of the battlefield landscape.

    A thrilling ride down a steep hill led predictably to a moderately long uphill slog to the overlook above Burnside Bridge over Antietam Creek, where we watched a Boy Scout troop ceremony.  After the Scouts cleared out, we decided the bridge made the perfect lunch spot. 

    Lunch at Burnside BridgeAfter lunch, we biked to the Antietam National Cemetery and then headed back to the visitor's center.  As it turned out, even though we had been on the road for a few hours, with all of our stops along the way, we had biked only 10 miles.  One of our bikers decided she wanted to get in a few more miles, so she headed out for another loop of the battlefield while the rest of us packed up our bikes and headed home. 

    If you're at all interested in Civil War history, Antietam Battlefield is the place to go, and biking the battlefield is the way to see it.
  • 28 Feb 2010 4:49 PM | Kathleen (Administrator)
    MIDA_20100227_2.jpgAfter two back-to-back snowfalls in early February that dumped about five feet of snow, we were ready to put down our shovels and pick up our hiking and ski poles and head out to Little Bennett Regional Park for our Cabin Fever Hike. 

    When scouting the hike just a week earlier, we were trudging through snow above our knees.  Fortunately, the snow had melted down to about eight inches when we set out for this hike.  With a bright sun and clear blue sky above, sparkly white snow below and silhouetted trees in between, we enjoyed a lovely walk in the woods.

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  • 18 Jan 2010 4:47 PM | Kathleen (Administrator)
    MIDA_20100118_2.jpgOn a brilliant sunny January day, we met at Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia, for our Can't See the Forest for the Trees Hike.  One of our members, a naturalist, led us on a fascinating walk through the woods and taught us how to identify trees in winter using clues such as patterns in the bark, trunk shape, branching structure, fallen nuts and many other natural signs. 

    MIDA_20100118_5.jpgStarting along a creek bed, we first identified trees that don't mind wet feet.  From there we moved upland and found oaks of many colors - white, red, scarlet.  Like all good students, we asked lots of questions and quizzed each other along the way. 

    The little waterfalls at the end of the hike provided the perfect spot to enjoy what we learned.

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  • 04 Dec 2009 5:55 PM | Kathleen (Administrator)
    Unfortunately, we had to cancel our Holiday Hike because of our first wintry mix of the season.  Catoctin Mountain Park in Thurmont, MD is a beautiful park adjoining Camp David.  We'll definitely put this one back on our dance card or should I say, hike card?
  • 08 Nov 2009 3:02 PM | Kathleen (Administrator)
    MIDA_20091107_2.JPGWe couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day to bicycle through Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and along the quiet country roads of the lower Eastern Shore:  clear blue skies and temperatures in the mid-50s.  Even the headwind at the start of the ride ended up being a tailwind at the end of the ride, much to everyone's relief.

    MIDA_20091107_5.JPGOur eight bicyclists met just inside the refuge and headed out along Wildlife Drive.  Although the tundra swans hadn't yet arrived from Canada, we did see a bald eagle, a great blue heron, and lots of ducks and geese. 

    We biked at a leisurely pace along the 25 miles of this ride.  For a few of our group, this was the longest ride they'd ever attempted.  With a break at 10 miles and our lunch stop at 20 miles, we all made it across the finish line, although at least one biker asked (half kidding, I think) where the sag wagon was.

    MIDA_20091107_1.JPGWe stopped at Shorter's Wharf for lunch and enjoyed a lovely view of the water with one kayaker slowly paddling by. 

    With the wind at our back for the home stretch, we pulled back into the refuge with that good kind of tired feeling.  
  • 01 Nov 2009 2:30 PM | Kathleen (Administrator)
    The combination of a planning meeting and potluck brunch for Women Outdoors Mid-Atlantic proved irresistible to our group of intrepid outdoorswomen.  The culinary offerings ranged from fresh pumpkin bread from the farmers' market to homemade quiche to a variety of salads - fruit, veggie and pasta. 

    With the first order of business taken care of (that would be brunch) we started on the second piece of business - the planning meeting.  With calendars in hand, we selected dates and activities for Women Outdoors Mid-Atlantic for January - June 2010.  Each month we'll explore a different part of our region either by foot, by bike or by boat. 

    A PDF of our calendar will soon be available to download by clicking on the "Calendar" link on the Mid-Atlantic page.  Women who would like to join us on one of our adventures can register by clicking on the "Special Events" link and scrolling through the calendar to the date of the event. 

    Hope you can join us.
  • 19 Oct 2009 6:56 PM | Kathleen (Administrator)
    We had to take a rain check on our Raven Rocks hike in Bluemont, VA.  With a steady rain and temperatures in the 40s, we decided that discretion was the better part of valor.  We'll put Raven Rocks back on the schedule another time so we can enjoy the views it offers.
  • 14 Sep 2009 7:37 PM | Kathleen (Administrator)
    MIDA_20090912_1.jpgPaddlers with Women Outdoors Mid-Atlantic weren't the only ones who showed up Saturday morning at Bladensburg Waterfront Park.  Turns out the Anacostia Watershed Society was sponsoring one of its regular clean-up days on the river as well.  Over a hundred volunteers turned out to help pick up trash from the river and its banks. 

    After some initial confusion about whether there would be enough kayaks for our group (there were), we launched from the dock and started our gentle paddle down the Anacostia River.  A few of us also grabbed some trash bags and plucked plastic bottles out of the river as we kayaked.

    MIDA_20090912_2.jpgWe paddled against the incoming tide as we headed out, but knew we would be with the tide for the return trip when it counted the most.  Our group of 20 paddlers (16 single kayaks, one double kayak and one canoe) rafted up for a break just outside the entrance to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.  Within just a few minutes, the wind and tide carried us a couple hundred yards back up the river.  No more breaks after that! 

    Paddling past the entrance to the aquatic gardens, we spied three snowy egrets sitting on branches overhanging the entrance and told them we'd be back.  We continued down the Anacostia to where the National Arboretum backs up to the river.  We stopped briefly to admire a tiny new dock at the back of the arboretum with room for a couple of boats.  The dock allows paddlers to tie up and enter the arboretum from the Anacostia River entrance.  Keep that in mind when during azalea season!

    We turned around at the arboretum and headed back to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.  The marshes at the gardens are so shallow that every minute of incoming tide expands the area that can be explored.  (By the same token, you don't want to be left high and dry in the aquatic gardens when the tide is going out.)  Most of the lilies were past their prime, but the gardens still treated us with sightings of lots of snowy egrets, a couple of kingfishers and a great blue heron.

    Out little flotilla headed back up the river about the same time the clean-up crew was finishing.  While the volunteers partied at the pavilion, we gathered in one of the park's gazebos for lunch before heading home.

    Thanks to everyone for joining us on our first kayaking adventure.  Hope to see you again.
  • 09 Aug 2009 4:46 PM | Kathleen (Administrator)
    MIDA_20090808_1.JPGOkay, so we advertised it as the Dog Days of August Hike, full well expecting temperatures and humidity in the 90s.  Much to everyone's delight, the temps were in the 80s and a breeze accompanied the hikers all along the trails.  Two doggies, Gus and Shadow, led the way for the 14 hikers.  The rolling hills at Sky Meadows State Park offered beautiful vistas at several turns along the hike. 

    MIDA_20090808_2.JPGOne of our members couldn't do the hike because of a foot injury but she happened upon the graduation ceremony for the Youth Conservation Corps at Sky Meadows.  Nine young women had just finished three weeks of fence building, bridge repairs and trail maintenance.  Their proud families and park staff honored them for their achievements in a lovely ceremony in the barn at the park.


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