Looking back on 2017

The past year has been a great one for hiking, so I haven’t done much blogging. Our hiking group gained another 1,474 members this year, and we finally went over 10,000 members! It’s hard for me to believe we were only 1,995 strong in 2012. I started organizing events for the group that October, bumped the number of hikes to 1-2 hikes per week, and it’s been nonstop growth ever since. I just hope they never all show up at once…

We did 103 hiking events in 2017; exactly the same number we did in 2016. Unsurprisingly, the total distance was also about the same: around 450 miles, at locations throughout Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. There were a lot of visits to familiar places, but we went to a lot of new places, too.

Some highlights:

  • A memorable hike in January was from the site of the Civil War Fort Ethan Allen in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River on Chain Bridge to the Little Falls of the Potomac; and then back via the Gulf Branch of the Potomac. By the time we finished, the snowflakes falling were the size of quarters!
  • A couple of new events in February were a visit to Fredericksburg and Government Island, where we retraced the advance of the right flank of the Union Army from the Rappahannock to Marye’s Heights and visited the quarry that provided stone for the White House and the Capitol Building; and an urban hike in Alexandria to check out the Revolutionary War Day reenactment at Fort Ward.

The photo of the stone wall at Marye’s Heights (left) is almost the identical viewpoint as Matthew Brady’s photo taken in 1863, after the Second Battle of Fredericksburg.

  • In May we visited Kennedy Peak and Little Devil Stairs. The first is beautiful; you are treated to spectacular views of the Shenandoah Valley even at the trailhead. The second is well named: it started with a mile of difficult rocky climbing, crossing and recrossing a mountain stream. Fortunately, as the saying goes, it was all downhill from there.
  • Something new in July was a hike at Catoctin Mountain Park in northern Maryland — quite a drive for many in our group. Although the trail is very rocky in places, it’s not a difficult hike, and the view from the top is wonderful.
  • In October we made a trip to Harpers Ferry and Maryland Heights. It was hard to choose between one or the other, so we tried to do a little of both. Pro trip: they may not carry viruses, but gnats can eat you alive. Don’t spare the insect repellent.
  • A few last photos from hikes in November and December

On to 2018!

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5 Responses to Looking back on 2017

  1. Pilgrim says:

    OMG, I visited your site a few hours ago wondering if you have given up the ghost. Congratulations in gaining more participants. I always enjoyed your hike vicariously. On to 2018 and Happy New Year!

  2. John M says:

    Thanks, and happy new year to you as well!

  3. Jim Bovard says:

    Excellent write-up and a superb selection of photos. Thanks for all the great hikes you lead in 2017, John!

  4. John M says:

    Thanks, Jim! I haven’t been writing much about them lately: with so many hikes, there’s a lot of repetition, and it’s a chore to write about the same things over and over again (as you probably are well aware). I very much appreciate your taking time from your busy schedule to host a few of these, and look forward to seeing you on the trail over the year ahead!

  5. Jim Bovard says:

    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to host some hikes – they were a hoot. Your hike leadership style & competence (not a given in this neck of the woods) has attracted so many fine folks into this Meetup group. Jaunting with the Alex. Walking & Hiking Group consistently provides some of the most intellectually stimulating conversation I find in the DC area.

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