K9 Trailblazers Dog Hiking Club
(click on thumbnail images for full size picture)After introductions, accompanied by Tootsie Rolls and Milkbones, a group of 8 people and 7 dogs set out from Ft. Marcy on the Potomac Heritage Trail. We headed 3 miles north along the Potomac River enjoying perfect weather and lovely views.
After lunch at Turkey Run Park we joined Park Ranger Jay Johnstone for a guided 2-1/2 mile hike out to Dead Run and back again. Jay handed out binoculars so we could see and identify some of the many birds living in or migrating through the park. We also got close-up views of a beaver, a large water snake and many different plants. Jay explained which plants were edible, which were poisonous and which can be used to relieve the itch of poison ivy (very useful on the trail!). He also helped us investigate the life in a stream. That morning a batch of caddis flies had hatched so we saw the adults flying around and landing on our clothing, and we used magnifying boxes to enlarge larvae we found in the stream. Jay explained that caddis flies are what many people try to imitate when tying their "flies" for sport fishing.
He also talked about the history of the park, showing us sites of old roads and homesteads and the non-native plant species growing in what used to be the kitchen gardens of houses. We learned about geology, including the metagraywacke rock formations prominent in the park. That type or stone had been quarried further south to help build Washington DC, but was unreachable near Turkey Run due to unpredictable shallows in the Potomac. Dogs and people clambered over the rocks and streams eager to see the next feature.
Before hiking back to Ft. Marcy, we took a group photo of the hikers and their canine companions and thanked Jay for sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm for this wonderfully wild place so close to Washington D.C.