Thursday, December 24, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Rock Creek Park in the Snow

We had planned to go hiking today, but last night a massive snowstorm arrived in the Washington, DC area.  By this afternoon, there was over a foot of snow and it was still falling fast.  Even the DC Metro system had to close all of their above-ground stations because the snow was too deep on the tracks.  Since we couldn't drive or Metro anywhere, we decided to go snowshoeing in Rock Creek Park.

Initially, we thought we would have to carry our snowshoes down to the park, but the snow was falling so fast, most of the sidewalks that had been shoveled in the morning were covered in several inches of new snow.  The major streets in the area, Colesville and 16th were as quiet as I've ever seen them. Once we crossed 16th, we just walked in the street, which had plenty of snow for the snowshoes.  There wasn't any traffic anyway.

The snow became a lot deeper in the park, where it hadn't been packed down.  We walked through drifts over the knee.  Rock Creek was partially covered in ice, which is also a rare event.  We hiked along the valley trail, to the spur trail to 16th street.  Just before 16th street, we turned onto the Holly Trail.  Only one set of tracks preceded us on it, making the going a little slower.  We were breaking trail through 12-15 inches of snow.  Our friend's dog tried to convince us to follow every set of deer tracks we passed.  We saw a number of little birds with their feathers puffed out to stay warm.

We returned along the Valley trail to the spur that comes out of the park on 17th street.  Orchid Street wasn't plowed, so we just walked in the middle of it. We were able to get nearly three hours of snowshoeing in and cover a little over 4 miles.  A few pictures:
The bridge near Beach Drive.
Rock Creek from the Valley Trail

On the Valley Trail
The Valley Trail

Orchid Street hadn't been plowed

Monday, December 7, 2009

Old Rag Mountain in the Snow

Today we hiked Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah National Park.  It snowed all day yesterday, so we were hoping to get some good pictures on the mountain.  We were not disappointed. I've included a lot of pictures, so they are below the jump.

We arrived early enough to get a parking spot in the upper parking lot.  On the drive from Silver Spring, we decided not to hike up the Ridge Trail and through the boulder scramble.  It had rained before it started snowing, so there was a layer of ice under everything.  The boulder scramble would have been more adventure than we were looking for.  We hiked up the back way, up the Weakley Hollow Fire Road to Post Office Junction and then up the Saddle Trail to the summit and returned the same way - a nice nine mile hike.

The Hughes River was running high from the rain and the melting snow, forcing us to use the high water bridges.   The lower part of the Fire Road was not entirely snow covered.  Once we got to the steel bridge over the Hughes, the road became completely covered in snow.  The snow was about five to six inches deep on the road between Post Office Junction and Old Rag Shelter.  Since this section is fairly steep, we debated the merits of YakTrax and other traction devices.  There were bootprints in the snow with the telltale pattern of YakTrax on them.  Up on the saddle trail, we started seeing large icicles on rocks.