I used to burrow indoors during January, taking myself further away from the limited sunlight that makes its way to northern Virginia this time of year. Geocaching year-round’s led me into winter wonder along the trails and waterways of Fairfax County, a world of beautiful light and vision.
We go from a pirate’s gathering at the extreme eastern end of Heater’s Island to the extremes of endurance on our paddle back to Virginia, our first self-propelled aquatic return voyage ever. In between we meet some very particular beauties, come upon a buzzards’ bungalow, and enjoy a picnic on the Potomac.
With every paddle stroke in the downstream flow of the upper Potomac we move our canoe past our inexperience on the water and towards our geocaching adventure. We land on Heater’s Island. We step up into a young forest, walk deer trail and no trail, sometimes the two of us, sometimes five, sometimes more.
Cradled in the snaky meandering embrace of the Occoquan Reservoir, squeezed upward from water’s edge into hardwood-canopied undulating green folds of rise and ravine, and threaded through with narrow ribbons of stream and trail was our bit of wilderness in Fairfax County, Virginia — Fountainhead Regional Park.
The land we call Harpers Ferry, West Virginia is a focal point of nature, gathering force and resources at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. Harpers Ferry is also one of the most significant of all our special places, important as both inspiration for and site of some of the most pivotal movements and moments in our nation’s history.
That’s not why apc9296 and I went to Harpers Ferry on the eve of our nation’s birthday celebration. As Virginia geocachers we were looking forward to finding our first West Virginia geocaches; Harpers Ferry extended itself into our part of Virginia and beckoned us to come on across, so we did. Once there we each found more geocaches than either of us had ever found in a day and in doing so we discovered many historic and beautiful places in Jefferson County, West Virginia.
“I have always hated to exercise just for the sake of exercise,” my good friend dagdvm once told me.
I agree completely. Sometimes it’s hard to just get on a treadmill and walk in place or go outside and walk in circles around some block or track or route or go out a ways and then turn around and come back. Yes, it’s exercise, but walking without purpose can get a bit monotonous. Wouldn’t it be great to have another reason to walk a good distance?
“Geocaching,” dagdvm continued, ” is getting me out and walking for hours at a time. It has to be good for my body.”
It sure does. If you go out looking for certain geocaches you’ll get some exercise without even thinking about it. If you go to a nice park full of geocaches you can walk around for hours having fun finding as many as possible. If you go to that park with a friend who belongs to an avid hiking superdog, well — it’s hard to think of a better way to spend a nice healthy day outside, and that’s exactly what dagdvm, her weiner dog Tilly and I did at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park in Fairfax County, Virginia on a fine Sunday in June.