The Glorious Old Rag Scramble, Again

Bolders on top of Old Rag

Two peaks between which lie a wonderful series of rock scrambles. The fun doesn’t get old no matter how often I climb Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah National Park.

There are other places to hike but I keep being drawn back to Old Rag. If I leave at 7:30 AM then I can be back by 3:00 PM after having climbed a mountain, scrambled over rocky terrain, and taken-in stunning views. Total distance is 7.5 miles. Total elevation is 3,200 feet.

Climbing the front is a vigorous effort but your reward is the first peak where a rocky plateau greets you. The views are spectacular and it’s a good place to catch your breath. Soon again you lose your breath as you climb to the second peak across, between and under lots of rock. The descent is 4.5 miles of the total hike and three of those miles are a long fire road, uninteresting but for the three rivers you cross. At that point in the hike though, boring is good.

This hike is recommended, recommended, recommended.

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Foiled by a Hurricane

Brooklyn Bridge Swim Path

The course is to swim 1,000 meters from shore to shore across the East River of Manhattan under one of the world’s greatest structures, the marvelous Brooklyn Bridge.

This year it was going to happen. I was going to swim the East River. Everything was looking good. So far, Lady Luck was working with me. Hurricane Hanna wasn’t due to arrive in NYC till this evening.  We’d be done with the race and long gone before then. I was excited.

For the race, all systems were go. I left D.C. on Friday with fair weather and arrived a few hours later in NYC. Everything was going fine. To familiarize myself with the race I walked around the South Street Seaport area, checked out the course, and mapped my path from hotel to where the race was to begin. As you can see in the picture above, it was a beautiful afternoon. Saturday I would swim under the Brooklyn Bridge!

Once satisfied that I knew the lay of the land I headed to my hotel. As I stood at Reception checking-in I received a prerecorded announcement on my cell phone. “The race has been canceled.” The cancelation wasn’t due to anticipated bad weather during the event but instead due new safety precautions taken in the wake of Katrina. The police simply wanted to err on the side of caution.

This morning I still went. There on the pier were gathered a few dozen swimmers picking up t-shirts and chatting over coffee and donuts. It was a beautiful morning for a swim. The air was calm and warm; waves would not have been an issue. As a group we weren’t happy with the way things had played out but we understood. It just wasn’t to be this year … maybe next?

Watch this spot for a Brooklyn Bridge Swim entry in 12 months!

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Great Falls National Park

Great Falls Looking Down

Boating, climbing, hiking, running, repelling, fishing, and the list goes on. People were out to enjoy the lovely morning of the last long weekend of summer.

National Parks are national treasures to be visited and enjoyed at every opportunity. Why is it then that I don’t get excited about our local parks? Simple, we learn to take nearby sites for granted. Thankfully though on this glorious Labor Day I broke through and got out.

Great Falls is an unnavigable stretch of the Potomac River which flows between Maryland and Virginia, past Washington D.C. and in to the Chesapeake Bay. The rocks and falls are treacherous but George Washington believed that boat traffic was critical along the Potomac to connect the Ohio Valley with the East. He felt the bonds of trade would strengthen the fractured colonies and help the union succeed. Consequently he initiated what later became a series of lochs for boats to move goods from Cincinnati to Washington D.C. to countries in Europe.

Very little exists of the original lochs and the town of Matildaville  but there’s much to see and do! The entire area has been set aside as a National Park.

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