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Reaching old heights

From: Mike
Sent on: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 5:54 PM



We seem to have struck weather gold, and the weekend streak looks like it will continue for (this) Saturday with beautiful fall weather. So join us for a classic hike through Harpers Ferry and up Maryland Heights to get some of the best fall foliage views in the area. We’ll also get views of the Potomac & Shenandoah Rivers—views that Jefferson described as being “worth a voyage across the Atlantic.” (See below.)


The hike will be about 6.5 miles and 3,000’ elev. change (2.5 blisters, or moderate) and we will spend some time exploring the historical district of Harper’s Ferry, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.


Bring food and drink. Meet at 8 am at the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Station Kiss & Ride lot (look for brown Priuses or Prii) to carpool. Leaders: Chris Stoughton and me.


If you missed our last two outings, I’m sorry to hear that, but here are pix from them to enjoy:


Calvert Cliffs (10/9/11):


Anacostia River paddle (10/16/11):






Thomas Jefferson’s 1785 description of the view from Harpers Ferry of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers and the water gap:


"The passage of the Patowmac through the Blue Ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in Nature. You stand on a very high point of land. On your right comes up the Shenandoah, having ranged along the foot of the mountain a hundred miles to seek a vent. On your left approaches the Patowmac in quest of a passage also. In the moment of their junction they rush together against the mountain, rend it asunder and pass off to the sea. The first glance of this scene hurries our senses into the opinion that this earth has been created in time, that the mountains were formed first, that the rivers began to flow afterwards, that in this place particularly they have been so dammed up by the Blue Ridge of mountains as to have formed an ocean which filled the whole valley; that, continuing to rise, they have at last broken over at this spot and have torn the mountain down from its summit to its base. The piles of rock on each hand, but particularly on the Shenandoah, the evident marks of their disruptions and avulsions from their beds by the most powerful agents in nature, corroborate the impression.


"But the distant finishing which nature has given the picture is of a very different character. It is a true contrast to the former. It is as placid and delightful as that is wild and tremendous. For the mountains being cloven asunder, she presents to your eye, through the cleft, a small catch of smooth blue horizon, at an infinite distance in that plain country, inviting you, as it were, from the riot and tumult roaring around to pass through the breach and participate in the calm below. Here the eye ultimately composes itself; and that way, too, the road happens actually to lead. You cross the Patowmac above the junction, pass along its side through the base of the mountain for three miles, the terrible precipice hanging in fragments over you, and within about 20 miles reach Frederictown and the fine country around that. This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic."

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