A couple of hikes over the past two weeks shared something in common, the Potomac River, but yielded two very different feels.
The Palisades District of Washington DC, demonstrably the younger of the two neighborhoods we hiked through, still has much of its timeless, turn-of-the-century character. The Old Conduit Schoolhouse still sits along MacArthur Boulevard, looking much as it did in 1874. Small boats drift along the Potomac River past preening cormorants and sunflowers, and the two-span Baltimore & Ohio railway bridge straddles Arizona Avenue and the C&O Canal, much as it has since its relocation here from Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, in 1909.
Just downstream, a hike across the Potomac from Rosslyn to Georgetown and back had a much different feel. Rosslyn’s mirrored modern buildings are the tallest in the Washington DC metropolitan area. Georgetown has the charm of its older blocks of townhouses, M Street, and landmarks like the Old Stone House and the C&O Canal, leading to the more modern designs of Washington Harbor, the Watergate Hotel, and the Kennedy Center, adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial and Arlington Bridge at the western end of the National Mall. Altogether, an area with a more varied and faster tempo than its upstream cousin.
Often late summer brings with it unbearable heat and humidity to the Washington area, but this one has been among the mildest and most pleasant I can recall in the almost 20 years I have lived in the area. It won’t be long before summer comes to an end, and I am already relishing the thought of hiking through Rock Creek Park when the crisp air and vibrant colors of autumn finally arrive.