But even before we were out traversing the rocky cliffs, when we were just walking our first half-mile along the flat C&O Canal Trail, I felt as happy as I had in months. We had our light packs, it was warm and humid but not unbearable, and there was wildlife everywhere: geese, fish, turtles, and herons before we'd even taken our first swig of water.
Why can I not remember that walking is important??
This is what the National Park Service, rather melodramatically, says about the Billy Goat Trail, part A:
* One of the most difficult and strenuous trails in the east. [really??]
* Allow up to 4 hours. [really??]
* Scrambling over steep cliffs, angled rocks and boulders, and climbing is required:
-- Pothole Alley is a section of trail where hikers must navigate over large boulders and jagged rocks. Good balance is required to hop over crevasses and climbing [sic] over rocks.
-- Hikers must find a way up/down a 40-ft. cliff. There is not an alternative trail around.
* Not recommended for people afraid of heights or with poor balance.
* Visitors in less than optimum health, carrying small children, or those hikers that are not experienced or properly outfitted, should consider other trail hiking options.
And did I mention the wildlife? Besides what I listed at the beginning, we saw lots of other reptiles and amphibians, a small heron/bittern that I'm guessing was a juvenile green heron, cormorants, hundreds and hundreds of tiny froglets hopping everywhere, and a large fishing spider (cool but alarming). I forgot to bring my camera again! So here are some more stock photos of the animals we saw.