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Bloody hell... I'm gonna die to Boney M

An e2Hons hike amongst austere conditions.

What: A hike through the rock scrambles, hills and wooded trails of Difficult Run, in McLean, Virginia.
Where: I-495 to VA 193 (exit 44- Kensey informs me that exit 13 is the old numbering system); west on VA 193 for approximately 3 miles. Look for parking lot on left hand side of road. A large sign reading "Difficult Run" is posted there. If you're prepared and brought a GPS, you'd track to 38.9778N/77.2492W. But you didn't bring one because that's totally against our modus operandi, right?
When: 26 February, 2005. 10:00 a.m.

At Camp IV, looking at the summit
  • momomom! - she says "my confirmed is contigent upon the weather", but we're not worried. She's three times the mom of generic store brand mothers.
  • Pint! - he says "I MAY be in DC that weekend". He says he needs a ride. I'll give him a ride, but an actual DC noder might be better.
  • paradoxmo - has a concert on Sunday, but is feeling 75% good about Saturday.
  • Gorgonzola - he rants and raves about the new start time: "It's great!" he gushes. "I can probably make this one!"
  • unperson - who apparently even has the temerity to threaten to host a Terp student-counter nodermeet the same day! WEASEL! Realizing the futility of a nodermeet for the weak, he has agreed to be 'a definitely maybe'.

Sandbagging back at base camp:
  • grundoon - she admits that she's afraid of forests. WEASEL!
  • JohnnyGoodyear - he admits that he has a fear of losing a finger to frostbite, instead preferring the comforts of home, hearth and Mrs. Goodyear. WEASEL!

"I didn't put a knot into the end of the rope. If there was nothing down there, I would fall, and it would be quick."
--Joe Simpson, Touching the Void

Question: Are you really out to kill me on a nodermeet?
Answer: No. In fact, nodermeet title notwithstanding, this is one of the easiest e2Hons hikes ever. The loop is only 4.8 miles long, there's only 200 feet of vertical gain, and the total trip should be under three hours. We're starting an hour later than the usual IWSTF/NF/Jurph start time. The trail is well marked, well worn, and close to Washington, D.C., so the accessibility factor is super-high here, folks. Weaseling out for anything other than dire scheduling conflicts is unnecessary (and we have connections to investigate your "scheduling issues").

Question: What am I going to see on this hike?
Answer: The trail descends early, down towards the Potomac with stellar views. Here at the bottom, unusual ice formations are created throughout the cold winter months. The following climb is short, but gains 180-200 feet vertically in a period of a couple hundred yards. Follow the path and you'll reach Mather Gorge and Great Falls with its famous child eating rapids (ha ha! Just kidding about the child eating rapids :) ). The loop doubles back here and heads for the ruins of Matildaville (named for the founder's wife), the Potowmack Canal, and Swamp Trail which is in suspended animation over winter.
But that's only the start of it folks; after we return to the start, we're heading into town where you'll hear IWhoSawTheFace embellish the day's events into life or death situations and you'll see your humble host demonstrate how he manages to consume 4000 calories a day as we find a suitable place for lunch. PLUS e2Hons hikes have been known for book and CD exchanges, so bring some old literature or music and come home with a treasure.

Question: What do I need to bring?
Answer: This is a light day hike. We'll be done shortly after lunch. So dress for the weather (in layers), wear a pair of broken-in outdoors shoes, and bring a light snack like trail mix or a granola bar. Don't forget the water bottle. What you don't need to bring are crazy electronics like your EPIRB transmitter, avalanche beacon, FRS Walkie-Talkie, GPS, or worst of all: iPod, cell phone or Blackberry. Pull one of those out and face the ire of Face. You don't need a backpack or European Carry-All either: I'll be going as the pack mule for the expedition.

Question: I'm a control freak. Where can I get more info, like trail profiles, topographic maps, and trail landmark photos?
Answer: here. Need info the day of the hike? My mobile will be on all day; /msg's requesting the number will be replied.

Being a new noder, this was my first nodermeet. The attendees of this auspicious event:

At shortly after ten, I was the last to arrive, after having just missed the sign on the left side of Georgetown Pike and having to find a place to turn around (which was, unfortunately, a few miles further down).

The hike went off without a hitch in the lovely remains of the small snowstorm of the days before. The weather was just perfect for the hike (so all y'all who weaseled on account of the weather--shame!)-- it was twenty-eight degrees but it wasn't really cold at all, with a nice sun out the entire time we were on the trail and the snow melting around us. At one point during the hike, we made a wrong turn. Since none of us had hiked the trail before, we assumed that we would have to do a little rock-climbing. This bit turned out to be the closest to dear ol' Death that we got. Of course, after successfully mounting the rock face, we figured out that it was actually not part of the trail at all. Oh well! 'Twas still fun, however.

After a short distance we got to questioning our whereabouts once again. However, we were guided back onto the trail by other hikers who had been on the trail before, and proceeded back to our starting point, completing the loop.

As some of us were hungry from the hike (especially Mrs. Jurph who mentioned this fact repeatedly), we headed over to Panera Bread at Pike 7 Plaza. IWhoSawTheFace, who couldn't make the hike, met us there for lunch. At this very crowded Panera we partook in scrumptious sandwiches, soups and salads, and exchanged things. birdlace gave out a number of his mix CDs, I gave away a copy of the Candide original cast recording, and IWhoSawTheFace brought a number of his treasures to dole out. All in all, a good show.

It was cool meeting everyone and putting faces to names (and handles). I look forward to another meet soon!

Pictures of said event can be had at various places, including:

Memorable quotes, anyone?

Corrections and amendments to this writeup are welcome.

And as we all know, African swallows are non-migratory.

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