We’re at that time of year, around here anyway, when the weather is very unpredictable. There are thunderstorms in the forecast for just about every day, but half the time they don’t materialize, so you might as well schedule your hike and take a chance: you might wind up slogging through the mud in a downpour, or you might end up having a beautiful day. Last weekend we got a couple of those beautiful days, despite the forecast.

Saturday we went to Great Falls National Park, which is always a treat as long as you leave a little early in the morning to get ahead of the rush. (It’s a popular destination.) My favorite route leads south from the Visitor Center to the mouth of Difficult Run on the Potomac River, and then back along the cliffs of the Potomac River Gorge to the Great Falls themselves. This was the first time I remember seeing blue herons on the falls — it’s hard to imagine how they would catch any fish there!

Sunday was something more local: a hike along Accotink Creek, in Fairfax County, Virginia, with a side trip into Brookfield Park. Nothing spectacular; not quite 5 of miles of hiking, but I was surprised to see an osprey in Accotink Park just as we were getting started! They’re quite common farther east in Dyke Marsh or down the Potomac towards Occoquan, but maybe in this case, Lake Accotink afforded a quiet nesting spot.

I can’t complain too much about the uncertain forecasts, though, because in another couple of weeks the dog days of summer will arrive, and what those will be like is all too easy to predict.

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