Sunday, April 15, 2007

A damp day

I am learning something about the W&OD trail. If you want the trail to yourself, ride on a cold, rainy day. But my companion and I did not have the trail to ourselves today, despite the 1+ inch of rain that fell during our 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. ride. In addition to boatloads of worms and their avian predators (see "Wormicide" blog March 16) , we were watched by sentinel deer, raced by cottontail rabbits, and honked at by territorial geese. A brash chipmunk catapulted across the asphalt, a Kingfisher chittered in the ashen arms of a sycamore, and a dead vole reminded us that we had missed lunch.

The water ran down the trail. It pooled on the trail. It coursed across the trail. It ran down our arms and legs into our gloves and shoes. The water eased up over the banks of Difficult Run to inundate the floodplain. It gushed down every little bank and swale. It burbled along the bridle path that parallels the paved trail. The water pelted our faces when we turned them up. It drummed on our helmets when we looked down. Broad Run was out of control under the new bridge (left). It swirled angrily around the [detestable] golf course that slew the bottomland hardwoods south of the trail last year. A few Virginia Bluebells held their heads above the brown swirls on the remaining floodplain.

Most of the wildflowers were saving themselves for more spectators, but the Bloodroot was in bloom near mile 12.5 (right), and violets were looking cheery on the thin soil of the Reston plateau. Of course the oaks were blooming too, but seeing their dangling yellow-green flowers required close attention, which we found increasingly difficult after we wrung out our gloves at Smith's Switch and turned for home.
It was a splendid ride, and who needed to fiddle with a backpack hydration system? With the amount of water that collected in our hoods, we just needed a straw.