Monday, July 05, 2010

On the fortieth day of summer

Ryan went hiking on the Billy Goat trail in Great Falls, Maryland with me and Aunt Katy.

I was nervous about this. I really want Ryan to enjoy hiking. I have dreams of us hiking the AT together someday. And with the way he's been so moody lately, I wasn't sure what his reaction was going to be.

For those who don't know, Great Falls is an area along the Potomac River (which at this point flows between Maryland and Virginia) just before Washington D.C. It exists because the river drops a few thousand vertical feet in not that much horizontal distance. It is historic because there is a canal that runs along it (the Chesapeake and Ohio canal) that needs a lot of locks to lower the barges that many vertical feet. The canal is not in use anymore and is a national park that runs from Georgetown to Cumberland (100 and some miles) and used by many for walking, biking and horse-back riding. It is also prized geographically as a place for white water kayaking, climbing and rapelling.

I LOVE it there! And the Billy Goat is one of my favorite trails because it is not just a walk in the woods. There are lots of rocks along the bank of the Potomac to climb over without needing any heavy duty climbing apparatus.

Here's some of the historical parts...a lockhouse (which now houses a museum and information center) where the people who worked the locks would live,

a barge that would have been pulled by mules on the towpath back in the days when the canal was in use,

a few pictures of the locks (places where the barge would go and the water would be raised or lowered for the barge to continue in the canal):

While we waited for Katy, we walked out to the overlook to see the falls. My dad said when he was younger, they could walk out on the rocks here, but now there are signs everywhere about how dangerous it is. The rocks are tough and the water is fast and furious.
Not a traditional waterfall, and the river's a bit low right now, but this is Great Falls:

Ryan in a hole:

Then we went down the towpath a ways and started our hike.

Ryan lagged behind walking on the towpath, but he zoomed ahead on the trail. If he had a choice between walking the trail or climbing over a rock, he chose climbing over a rock.

Doesn't look that high:

Or does it?

He didn't consider this hiking, he considered it mountain climbing. Here he is at what some consider the most challenging part of the trail. He did it almost entirely by himself and made it look easy!

I am so proud of him! So glad we got to share something that I love together!
And a BIG THANK YOU to my parents who stayed with Jillian so we could do this!

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