Jordana’s Tips for a Successful Weekend Hike:
- Eat dinner at a new Indian restaurant the night before.
- Load a backpack with 20 pounds worth of weights loosely scattered at the bottom of the bag.
- Pick a location that is prone to flooding. Bonus points if you go right after a huge onslaught of rain.
- Disregard items 1 – 3.
Last weekend, after Indian food began burning a hole in my stomach, I asked my friend April if she minded if we revised our ambitious Sunday hiking plans. She demurred, and instead we headed for the 4.7 mile Billy Goat Trail at Great Falls Park on the border between Maryland and Virginia, which promised some bouldering but plenty of opportunities to head back to the parking lot, if necessary. After forcing myself off my couch (you don’t understand; I LOVE my couch soooo much), I got ready for our hike.
Lacking the motivation to properly load a pack, I just dumped 20 pounds worth of weights in my Camelbak (which, as an aside, is by far the best yard sale purchase I’ve ever made) along with water and snacks. We headed in the direction of exit 41 off of I-495, which loops the DC area, and as we approached, we saw that the exit was completely blocked off in both directions by police cars. “What dignitary is messing with traffic on a Sunday?” was my immediate thought followed by, “Man, I’ve lived in the DC area too long if that’s the first thing that comes to mind.” April, on the other hand, said, “Maybe there was flooding from the heavy rain yesterday.” Way more plausible.
Either way, April didn’t miss a beat. As we passed the blocked exit, she said, “I guess that’s not an option anymore. Want to go back to Sugarloaf?” “Yes, indeed, let’s head for higher ground.” So that’s what we did instead. And this is where I make my public apology to Sugarloaf Mountain.
Mr. Loaf, a couple of weeks ago, I might have alluded to the fact that you are a meager spit of a mountain (see previous post). That wasn’t very nice of me. I will now admit that part of that opinion was based on the fact that we never made it to your summit the first time around. It helps to know from which of the many parking lots (as illustrated on the trail map) we started. This time April and I actually made it to the top, and indeed there were some parts that were steeper than I remember. From base to summit the elevation gain is just about 800 feet, which is still not all that much, but with Indian food head and 20 pounds worth of weights clanking into my lower back for over 8 miles (oh yeah, I was thinking, reeeeally good idea, Jor), I was sufficiently impressed.
The weather was a perfect 80 degrees and sunny. The hike was mostly shady with a comfortable balance of uphills and downhills. I had a bag of my beloved beef jerky near at hand. And, just as I expected, it was great to get moving and breathe some fresh air. Glad I peeled myself off the couch.