For MD Hikers, Boots On The Ground Bring Perspective In New Year

Per the Washington Post:

Setting a nice tone for the new year can be as easy as putting one foot in front of the other, especially if those steps are taken in Maryland near the roar of rushing water at Great Falls, with breathtaking views of the Potomac River in the distance.

Scores of hikers did just that Friday along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, ringing in 2016 by participating in a nationwide “First Day Hike” coordinated to kick off year-long celebrations of the National Park Service, which will have its 100th anniversary Aug. 25.

[Commemorating a legendary hike on the C&O Canal trail]

Outfitted for the day in backpacks and boots or arriving with children in strollers, some hikers attempted to answer questions posted along three C&O Canal trails that encouraged them to reflect on the 184.5-mile national park that draws 5 million visitors a year and sits minutes from the region’s bustle and stress.

“I just love being outdoors,” said Laura Gilliam, 80. “Nature is extremely relaxing in our electronic world.”
Park visitors take pictures of themselves overlooking Great Falls at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

The posted questions were part of a contest and covered topics such as defining community and overcoming adversity, soliciting reflections that tied the concepts to the park.

The day-long event offered small prizes — redeemable on Wednesday — to anyone who submitted written answers to the questions and left responses inside a wooden box near the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center in Potomac, park rangers said.

But the larger purpose of the roughly 1,000 guided hikes that took place Friday inside state and national parks in all 50 states was to get more people to appreciate the natural wonders in their midst, organizers said.

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