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Monday, November 5, 2012

Rocking the creek

Washington, D.C. is a densely-packed metropolis with its fair share of crime and decrepit neighborhoods, though the city has apparently gotten better since the early 1990's, when things were so bad the Washington Bullets NBA team felt compelled to change their nickname to the less evocative Wizards. So it's somewhat surprising to find that the District has within its, er, district a national park twice the size of New York's Central Park - Rock Creek Park, an oasis of greenery covering 1754 acres (710 hectares) under the administration of the National Park Service. On Friday, I was being reminded of how poor my listening and speaking skills were while trying to interact with Chinese students at Georgetown University (my fault, not theirs'); today, just a few miles away from the teeming Georgetown area, my family and I encountered not one, but two deer. The first one was a white-tailed doe that came running up to Amber and me, stopped to look at us for a moment, and then turned tail (rimshot) and ran off in a different direction. The other was a buck we espied on the other side of a dry creek bed. In both cases, I wasn't able to get off a photo before the deer disappeared into the woods, but both encounters (especially the first one) drove home the point that you don't have to leave the boundaries of the District of Columbia in order to commune with nature. Here are a few photos of our family walk today in Rock Creek Park:

My daughter stands on one of the dirt-covered fortifications, all that remain of Fort DeRussy, a Civil War-era outpost that once guarded Washington from the threat of Confederate attack.

Above, the trees were still ablaze with the colors of fall (well, some anyway), while the ground was carpeted with fallen leaves, often obscuring the trails.

Some of the footpaths were surprisingly undulating, but the girls held up well. The above pic was the only shot I could get of my camera-shy spouse.

Other than getting to see the deer, the other highlight of our walk today was the beauty of Rock Creek itself. Rock Creek Park is a gem, and the perfect place for a family hike on a clear, comfortably cold (40°F/4.5°C) Sunday. Altogether, the three of us covered six miles (9.7 kilometers) this afternoon, with an elevation gain of 840 feet (256 meters).

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