Happy Indigenous Peoples' Day, dear readers! Well, it is if you live in Seattle, Minneapolis, or South Dakota. Otherwise it's simply Columbus Day, one of the most historically confused and culturally insensitive federal holidays we have in the United States.
Jon and I decided to celebrate by heading out of DC for the day, so we drove out to Carderock, Maryland, only 25 minutes from our apartment near the center of the city. Washington, as you might know, is bordered on the west by the Potomac River; its upper reaches are impassable by boat, and Captain John Smith - yes, that Captain John Smith - described the area we ventured to thus in 1608:
...here we found mighty Rocks, growing in some places above the grownd as high as the shrubby trees, and divers other solid quarries of divers tinctures: and divers places where the waters had falne from the high mountaines they had left a tinctured sprangled skurfe, that made many bare places seeme as guilded.Because of the Potomac's rocks and falls, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was dug in the early 19th century to serve as a transportation route, running alongside the river for 184.5 miles from Georgetown at its southernmost point up to Cumberland, Maryland. The C&O Canal is no longer used for commercial purposes, and the National Park Service has opened up the area for recreational activities like running, hiking, biking, fishing, and kayaking.
Jon, Charlie, and I covered just over three miles on our expedition from Carderock up to the Old Angler's Inn and back, half on the towpath parallel to the canal and half on section B of the Billy Goat Trail alongside the Potomac River. You can hear the Beltway occasionally when you're on the towpath, but walking through the forest is utterly magical. You really can understand how the explorers came to this region and thought they had found a new world!