The low 40F Degree temperatures and the cooling breeze and clouds did not exactly call to my bikey brain today. Off I drove (yes, I have a car) to the gym to push and pull on the machines. The machines won.
Then it was off to Great Falls National Park in Maryland. I pulled into the Carderock area that is located about 2 miles outside the Beltway. The access road passes beneath the C&O Canal and towpath. After parking and getting myself all arranged with layers and hat and Buff and backpack full of water bottles, I set off the Billy Goat C trail, clockwise toward the river. I was walking upriver and the breeze was in my face. It took about a half mile to warm up. My legs had bounce in them and I was cruising along, resisting the urge to break into a trot. Slow. Down.
There were no leaves on the trees, so the place looked rather stark. I had good views of the river and they didn’t disappoint. After about a mile, the path looped back to the towpath. I headed further upriver on the towpath.
The canal in some sections has water. I noticed some tall reeds near my side of the waterway. Inside the grass was a great blue heron shopping for lunch. A few hundred yards later I could hear the quacking of a duck. The duck was with about sever others, paddling about near the far side of the canal. I saw something move in the tall grass on the canal’s far bank. It was a fox, stalking the ducks. No worries. They kept themselves out of paw’s reach.
The sky was full of bird’s chirping. A massive flock of birds filled the trees beyond the canal. Suddenly, they became quiet and flew of in a cloud of winged mayhem. Seconds later they landed in some trees no more than a hundred yards from where they started. The racket began anew. Birdbrains.
I kept walking past the sign for the Billy Goat B trail. I was taking the canal to the western entrance so I could loop back along the river. Like the C trail and the towpath, the B trail was practically deserted. I was also fortunate that it was dry. The towpath, which is flat and has poor drainage, had some muddy sections.
Back along the river, wind at my back, I cruised along. My legs were still fresh but my decrepit lower back was not on board for the fun. Fortunately, I came upon some big rocks on the river’s edge. I sat down and pulled out a water bottle. The water was rushing over some rocks about 50 yards into the river. Once my breath calmed, I listened.
Is there anything more relaxing than the sound of rushing water?
The cool breeze tried to distract me. It failed.
After perhaps 15 minutes, I decided to get up before I fell asleep. If it had been 10 degrees warmer, I’d be curled up in a ball snoring.
It took a few minutes to get myself back into an ambulatory mood. Rock scrambles, none too difficult for an old dude with balance issues, persuaded me to get with the program.
I made it across a small stream. Most people would dance across on the rocks but my body seems to prefer stumbling.
Soon I was turning back to the towpath up two quick rises. With the wind at my back, I hiked the towpath beyond where I had parked my car to pick up the C trail. The trail took me back to the river and eventually, to the car.
My legs felt fine. My lower back was bitching up a storm. I didn’t care. My head felt great.
So my first hike, a six-miler, of the new year was over. A productive use to a cold and gray afternoon.
7 thoughts on “Billy Goating at Winter’s End”
I’ve always thought seeing a blue heron brought good luck. I had a bike commute once that went along a slough where I would occasionally see a majestic blue heron and it always made me smile.
It’s super cool when they fly along beside you.
Love watching them finding the lunch special!
I enjoy your writing of your observations. Thanks!
I’ve been here!! How funny.
Long time ago.
Cool. There are three. The one you liked with all the rock scrambles is the A trail. I did it in a hot and muggy day and nearly died.