Summer Soltice/Full Moon Paddle from the Washington Canoe Club
So much to celebrate -- it is almost as if the stars are aligned for this paddle! Oh, wait, actually, the stars ARE aligned for this paddle! Saturday, June 22nd is the day after the Summer Solstice -- the longest day of the year, and the official (astronomical) start of Summer. This year, it is also the weekend of the full moon in June, and it is not just any full moon -- it is going to be a "super moon" -- meaning the moon will be at it's closest approach to the Earth, so it is going to look HUGE as it rises over the water behind Key Bridge! How could we not celebrate this with a paddle, followed by burgers and beer with friends on the docks?
We have a very special opportunity for a limited number of people to be on the water, launching from the floating docks at the Washington Canoe Club (WCC) at 5:00 PM for a leisurely paddle up the river, returning just in time to watch as the full moon rises over Key Bridge.
The Washington Canoe Club is located on the Georgetown waterfront on the Potomac River, just upstream of the Key Bridge. WCC was founded in 1904 by paddlers from Potomac Boat Club, which is located 100 meters down stream (right next door to Jack's Boathouse). WCC has placed athletes on almost every Canoe/Kayak Olympic Team since 1924, when Flatwater Sprint Canoeing was introduced as a demonstration sport.
While the actual (100%) full moon is on Sunday, the moon will be at more than 99% illumination on Saturday the 22nd. Even better, this "super moon," should be spectacular, as we will be on the water, returning from our trip up the river, as we watch the (huge!) moon rising above the Key Bridge with Georgetown and the Kennedy Center in the background! Moonrise on the 22nd is at 7:50 pm and with sunset at 8:37 pm we will be back at the docks well before sunset, so lights shouldn't be necessary for this paddle. Please consider the traffic hassles you will face in downtown DC on a Saturday afternoon, and plan to arrive with plenty of time to have your boat and gear ready to launch promptly at 5:00 PM. If in doubt, leave early; you are welcome to arrive at WCC an hour or so early and look around, go swimming, or just relax until time to put in. With moonrise beginning at 7:50, we want to make sure that we have everyone on the water in time to go up river, and then catch the show as we return to the Canoe Club.
We should be back to the take out around 8:00 PM after paddling upstream to somewhere between Fletcher's Boathouse and Little Falls, depending on the river level A light jacket for the evening is probably a really good idea.
Once we are back at the boathouse, it is time for the second show of the evening. The first celestial event, of course, will be the full moon rising over the water, which is always a wonderful sight, and will be a great way to end the paddle itself. Equally spectacular though, are the sunsets on the upper tidal Potomac. As you watch the sunset from the Canoe Club docks, the sun sets over the river to your right, lighting up a mile of the river, along with the Three Sisters Islands. At the same time, Key Bridge, on your left, picks up the colors of the sunset, so you have evening color in each direction. It really can be quite spectacular, and especially with the full moon above the Bridge, as it will be on this evening. So, after we return to the docks, we will fire up the grills for some burgers, dogs, and/or anything else that you might want to share for an apres-paddle soiree. There will be some beer and wine there, and you are welcome to bring your own choice of libations. There really is no prettier place in all of Washington D.C. to enjoy a sunset, than sitting in an Adirondack chair on the dock, with a glass of wine in one hand, some munchies in the other hand, and friends all around you. The Canoe Club has about 8-10 Adirondack chairs that can go down on the docks. There is also plenty of room at the picnic tables up above the docks, by the boathouse. Still, it wouldn't hurt to bring a comfy folding chair in case we have more people than chairs down on the dock.
There is always plenty of room at the picnic tables next to the boathouse . . .
. . . and at sunset, there is no better spot than one of the Adirondack chairs down on the dock!
Where else can you celebrate the Summer Solstice with an evening paddle where you carry your boat about 20 yards to launch under a rising (super) full moon, paddle the quiet waters of the Potomac for a couple of hours, recover right next to your car, and fire up the grill for sunset, right at the takeout.
And, after sunset, it is hard to image a nicer place to share a glass of wine with friends on a Summer night:
Directions to the Washington Canoe Club:
From DC, take K Street North to Georgetown. As K Street reaches Georgetown, it becomes Water Street, and follows along the Georgetown waterfront. Just keep going to the very end -- Water Street dead ends at the front gate to the Canoe Club.
From Maryland (Bethesda area), take Canal South to M St, and continue on M St. until you get to Wisconsin. Turn right on Wisconsin, and take it to the bottom of the hill (about 1/4 mile) where Wisconsin ends at Water Street. Turn right on Water Street, and take it about 3/4 mile where the street will end, and a bike path begins. The big green building behind the chain link fence is the Canoe Club.
From Virginia: Cross the river over the Key Bridge into DC. On the DC side, make an immediate right turn on M Street. Take M Street to Wisconsin Avenue, where you will turn right. Take Wisconsin to the bottom of the hill (about 1/4 mile) where Wisconsin ends at Water Street. Turn right on Water Street, and take it about 3/4 mile where the street will end, and a bike path begins. The big green building behind the chain link fence is the Canoe Club.
When you get to the Canoe Club, feel free to drive right up to the front gate and unload your boat, and take your gear inside where it will be safe as you go to park your car. There is room for about 10-12 cars right outside the gate (although it is Summertime, and those spots may already be taken.) Between these 10-12 club spots and the stone archway 50 yards South of the club, there is more free parking, good for 20 or so cars. And on the South side of the arch there is more free parking on the side of the street away from the river. It will be Summertime, so there is no way to know what the availability of free parking will be, so, in the worst case, you might have to use metered parking or one of the several garages in the area (they have fairly reasonable flat rates on weekends.)
Parking update in the WCC area:
The NPS has just (as of Thursday, June 20) made some changes to the parking situation at the West end of Water Street (the area immediately outside the Canoe Club gate. It is more of an inconvenience than a problem, but it is important to know how to access the available parking, and especially, how to get to the Canoe Club to onload/offload boats.
The Park Service has just installed a gate on Water Street about 100 yards down the street from the Canoe Club. This gate is designed to allow pedestrians and bicycles to pass through, but it blocks vehicular access. This gate was installed because of congestion in the area, which included vehicles parking in a picnic area, in no-parking areas, and even right in the middle of the road near the point where it turns into a bike path.
This change means two things regarding meetup parking:
1. Parking availability: Parking availability is probably a little bit better. The larger (unofficial) parking between the old aqueduct arch and the Canoe Club is no longer available (actually, it never was legal parking, it had just been taken over by cars over the past year). On the other hand, the Canoe Club parking area immediately outside the gate is still available, and we will not have the problem of other people parking in our area. This area is good for about 14-16 vehicles; when it is full, you will still be able to drive up to the Club entrance to onload/offload boats, but you will have to drive back outside the new gates to park (e.g., across from Jack’s). Another thing that will help with parking availability is that a lot of WCC members are out of town this weekend for an outrigger canoe race in New York, so we will have a little less competition for club parking.
2. Club access: When the gates are locked, you can’t drive any closer than about 100 yards away from the front gate to WCC. This means that I (or someone) will have to go out and open the new gate to let you in. We can’t just leave it unlocked – any time we open it, we have to be there until we have locked it again to prevent unauthorized access. So what I expect to do, is to (1) give you my phone numbers [masked] or [masked]) so that if the gate is locked when you arrive, you can call me. Then I will come out and open the gate, and (2) from about 4 – 5 pm when pretty much everyone should be arriving), either I, or a volunteer, will be at the gate all of the time so that we can let you in without needing to call. Similarly, when it is time to leave, I’ll go out and open the gate for you. So the bottom line here is that it will be really helpful to arrive in a timely fashion so that we can get everyone situated and ready to go on time.