I’m an outdoors guy in general.
To me, there is nothing better and relaxing than being outside and absorbing all the visceral senses. The warmth of the sun. The wetness from the rain. The breeze against your face on warm day.
This penchant for sunlight and fresh air partially led me to photography in the first place, therefore if there is a chance of nice weather, you’ll find me outside with my camera. Unfortunately, my time outdoors have been truncated substantially since starting graduate school last summer, making my time being outdoors somewhat of a luxury, something I can no longer take for granted.
Despite these challenges, I always try to steal an hour or two doing some light outdoor activities. Whether they’re just short walks outside on sidewalk or a short two-hour hike on a local trail. It’s less likely I’ll be doing the latter due to the time commitment involved, such as organizing and driving.
However, I learned something the other day that would scratch my need for a local hike itch.
I’ve recently moved to a new apartment in Ashburn, VA this past January, near the Broadlands (it was a 10 minute move from my old townhouse that I’ve rented with a friend of mine), and my sister (who is also learning the strings on photography with her own Leica M9) had a couple of photos on her Flickr page that showed a trail she was on with her puppy “Pepper“. I looked up the trail on the Google machine, and behold…there was a trail five minutes from where I lived.
That wasn’t the biggest surprise however.
There were several hiking trails and parks outside the desginated National Parks that I liked to frequent. These particular parks were smaller in scale and under a county sponsored organization known as NOVA Parks, but they were good enough for me who was looking for something short and close.
That morning, I tricked Amy into coming out with me on a “short walk” since the weather was finally nice outside after suffering through a few days of rain. Little did she know that she was ill-prepared for this hike since trail on Beaverdam was very wet and muddy. I was fortunately wearing my Salomon Speedcross 4 trail shoes, but Amy underestimated the trail and left her Salomon shoes at home. She was not very happy about the muddy conditions, so to make up for it, I piggyback carried her over some of the nastiest parts of the trail.
She seemed to enjoy that (the piggyback riding, not the trail).
After a few encounters with the mud, I was starting to think that the muddy portions of the trail were far and few.
I was wrong.
The trail was in such bad shape from the previous rain, that over half of the trail were just spots of mud and water. Some even as long as 100 feet.
Unsurprisingly, this required more a lot of work for both my shoes and legs as I was carrying another human being on my back, therefore sinking my feet into the mud at a much faster rate.
To say that I got a workout while carrying Amy on my back would be an understatement. I jokingly thought of this moment as one of those “this is why I lift” memes as carrying Amy on my back gave my legs a nice workout, playing well with my Apple Watch as my heart rate rose to a warm 130 BPM.
The trail ended on the northern half of the trail, which led us to a public park where little league baseball and soccer games were usually held. Since we both refused to double-back and go back on the same (muddy) trail again to get to my car, we’ve decided it was a better idea to just Uber from where we were to the car.
I promised Amy that we would eat Acai bowls at Robeks after the hike, so we ended the morning there, but it was a nice experience to go out and explore a new trail. Albeit I got my Salomon trail shoes dirty, they more than paid their weight in gold as I used them in the exact situation they were designed for. I only wished that I had purchased the GTX (Gore-Tex) waterproof version instead, but for $60 on sale (vs. $130 for the GTX models), I’m more than satisfied with their performance.
If anyone reading this love to be outdoors, I would look at your local county’s parks because you will never know what trails you may find for a quick hit of nature.
Thanks for reading!
All images were taken with the Leica M9 with the Zeiss Biogon 35mm f/2 lens.
Edited in Adobe Lightroom with Leica “Embedded” Color Profile with VSCO Fujifilm Astia 100F – preset.