That One Time I Got Lost In The Woods…

The Potomac Heritage TrailIt feels so great to be back on the Hilltop. While I missed a lot of things during my summer absence, one of the things I missed the most was the exhilarating feeling of running in D.C.

I’ll admit, I’m not a running aficionado, but there’s something about the running culture of the District that even makes someone like me want to get away from campus and take a nice jog.

So, I did what any sensible person would do. I put on my Nike sneakers and went to 4E’s running guide for some inspiration. I chose to start off with the Teddy Roosevelt Island run. After all, as Martin Hussey wrote in his piece, it’s flat, easy and enjoyable. Piece of cake, I thought, as I set off on my jogging adventure.

But as I ran down the ramp in Rosslyn, I was soon overtaken by my own curiosity. Instead of turning right and heading toward the foot bridge leading to the Island, the little voice inside my head, combined with the thumping electro-pop of Lady Gaga’s “Applause”, told me to turn left…so I did.

Before I knew it, my 3 mile run to Teddy Roosevelt Island became a 10 mile hike on the Potomac Heritage Trail. I ended up hiking to the Chain Bridge and taking the C&O Towpath back to campus. By the end of the afternoon, I had two insanely sore calves and some breathtaking photos of the experience.

For this article, I wanted to share some of these photos and, more importantly, I wanted to give five quick pointers on how to avoid the sore calves and have a pleasant Potomac hike.

1. Bring water and a granola bar I was clearly unprepared for my mini-trek into the wilderness. After all, I thought I was going on a short run to Teddy Roosevelt Island, not a nature hike. However, it’s probably a good idea to bring a little snack and drink to stay fueled up and hydrated.

2. Wear high socks and/or hiking shoes Some areas of the trail involve crossing small streams and working your way through brush. I’m not saying it’s a must, but some sensible footwear will make your hike a lot more enjoyable.

3. Bring a nice camera The sights along this trail are incredible (see below). This type of journey doesn’t just warrant some snaps on an iPhone camera (even if it is the new 5S or 5C). Bring along a nice backpack and pack in your new Nikon complete with zoom lens. You won’t be disappointed.

4. Wear sunscreen Although you might be only hiking in intermittent sun, this trail still gives a little bit of color. Just a word to the wise for the fair-skinned.

5. Bring friends This is the most important tip I can give. The views are unbelievable and there is even a tree you can climb and sit on while looking over the Potomac. It’s perfect for a small picnic or even some fishing poles to cast a line. Don’t be like me and wander into the woods alone– take advantage of this beautiful trail and share it with those you love. Oh, and check out my photos below.

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