I’ve done many hikes over the years with Capital Hiking Club. With over 20 hikes since 2009 to choose from, none were more interesting than the one on June 20, 2015.
Capital Hiking Club has been organizing hikes for 77 years. Every Saturday, regardless of season or weather, they host a hike, most often in Virginia or Maryland. You catch the bus in DC (or designated Metro stops in VA or MD), ride to the hike location, trek one of the two trail options, drink beer and eat snacks at the end, and drive back. It’s a good way to meet people and a great option to explore the surrounding area if you don’t have a car.
Within the last couple years, they moved their sign-ups to Meetup.com, to make the process more efficient and easier to manage for the hike organizers.
I highly recommend checking it out if you like to hike.
Capital Hiking Club
Virginia, Maryland and DC
8:00am (bus pick-up in DC)
$25 members ($28 non-members)
Trip Report – Dellinger Gap to Trout Pond Recreation Area, West Virginia — 6/20/15
The hike I joined took us to Dellinger Gap (ending in Trout Pond Recreation Area) in West Virginia. Most hikes are within a two-hour drive of DC. This drive was slightly longer.
This hike was especially interesting because almost everything that could go awry, did go awry. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and it is in every way an exception to the norm from my experience. The hike leaders still pulled off a successful, albeit memorable, trip.
Both hike options were strenuous (moderate – 9.5 miles, 2600 foot elevation gain or long – 11.5 miles, 3500 foot elevation gain). I also did the optional side trip to Dellinger Falls, which added over a mile and untold additional elevation.
It was tough. After a never-ending amount of walking up and up, I decided to do the moderate hike and let my hiking friends do the long hike. A large group milled about the turn-off point eating lunch. Since I had already eaten at the falls, I continued on.
Awry #1: Only to realize no one was ahead of me on the moderate hike. The hikes always have a leader, who leaves flour arrows and markers to point the way, and a sweep to make sure no one is lost.
There was no one leaving arrows. They were eating lunch. I had to navigate on my own using the map and instructions the organizers provide and any brief signal I could get on my phone. Ordinarily, that would be no big deal, as the trails are well-marked and it’s easy to follow the map.
This trail was overgrown in certain areas (causing me to stop often and ponder if I was going the right way) and there were lots of junctions to other roads and trails that were not easy to find.
Awry #2: I dropped my map and had to back-track to find it. Eventually, I made it to the Trout Pond Recreation Area, then got completely turned around in the campgrounds. I ambled around until a park ranger (presenting him my newly recovered map) set me on a course to the Pond. But even then, I wouldn’t have found the way to the bus if I hadn’t randomly chanced upon the other moderate hikers that had caught up.
Awry #3: Monsoon-force rain crashed down, probably washing away all the flour arrows. I didn’t notice.
Awry #4: Three hikers got lost. That happens so infrequently that it is a story on to itself. They missed a trail. Let’s say because the flour arrow washed away. Thankfully, they were able to hitch hike to the bus.
Awry #5: The hike leader went looking for the lost hikers and was gone for two hours. The cell phone signal was almost non-existent, so we couldn’t reach her once the lost hikers found us. The silver lining is we got to enjoy beers and chat while we waited.
Awry #6: We got back to downtown DC at 9pm, instead of 6pm. After biking home in the monsoon rain (I was already wet), I dried off and slept.
It was a challenging hike and one I will remember. What more could you ask for?