Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

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By Deyala El-Haddad, DC EcoWomen member and Liveamongchic blog author

Going outside for a walk or hike and getting some fresh air can positively impact your mental and physical health and science has told us that being outdoors and in nature can significantly improve your overall health and happiness.

Here are a few benefits to being outside and surrounding yourself with nature:

  • Being outside and in nature can help decrease stress and anxiety.
  • Going for walks in the sunshine can increase your intake of vitamin D, which can reduce symptoms of depression.
  • Being outdoors in natural light can help regulate your body’s natural clock, which in turn improves sleep patterns.
  • Being in nature can help ground you in a meditative state by being present and in the moment.
  • Going on long walks and hikes can help reduce high blood pressure and can improve blood circulation, digestion, sciatica, and overall health and well-being.

Finding the Time

This all sounds great, so why not step outside and enjoy these benefits? We tend to focus so much on our day-to-day tasks that we forget to check in with ourselves and connect with nature. We tend to make excuses for ourselves as to why we don’t go outside and we’re all guilty of saying things like: “I’m too busy” or “I’m too exhausted after a long day of work.” If you’re too busy or crammed at work, try to schedule 15-30 minutes a day for walking around outside. This could be at the beginning of your lunch break, towards the end, or after work to unwind.

One other thing that I’ve noticed that I’m guilty of doing is spending too much time on my iPhone, social media, games and gadgets. I end up spending so much time without even realizing that I just scrolled for a good 20 minutes! That could have been time spent walking around outside! We are so busy with our gadgets and technology that we are forgetting the outside world. A good solution is to unplug or limit your screen time. Go to your phone settings and set time limits for how long you can use an app per day.

Locations

We also feel so overwhelmed by living in a congested city filled with commuters, buses, cars and buildings that we don’t know where to get that nature fix. A few things you can do is look up parks, hikes or trails near you on Google maps! You could walk around your neighborhood before or after work and plan to visit a trail or little park close to your home or work. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could do a hiking trip to Shenandoah National Park or to the Blue Ridge Mountains during the weekend with friends and family.

A few great hiking trails and nature walks that are within a 20-mile radius include:

  • Long Bridge Park
  • Windy Run Park
  • Potomac Overlook Regional Park
  • Bluemont Park
  • Tuckahoe Park
  • Theodore Roosevelt Island
  • Great Falls
  • United States National Arboretum
  • Gravelly Point

Making it Fun

  • Bring your headphones and listen to music, a podcast, NPR or even an audio book.
  • Bring a friend, your kids, or work buddy!
  • Pay attention to your surroundings and appreciate the little things like clouds, trees, flowers, insects and small animals.
  • Keep a step tracker and see how far you can go!
  • Do an art walk and take creative photos of interesting plants along the way.

Safety Tips

Remember to wear sunscreen, bring water and snacks, wear good gripping or hiking shoes with ankle support, go with a buddy, don’t touch any plants or ivy and don’t turn up your music too loud!

Happy hiking!

Deyala El-Haddad has a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science and is a firm believer in environmental preservation and conservation. Some of her previous environmental work includes interning for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond. Her experience spans within non-profit organizations as well as government contracting services. In her spare time Deyala enjoys hiking, traveling, yoga and blogging for her website liveamongchic and for DC EcoWomen. 

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By Alyssa Ritterstein, DC EcoWomen Blog Manager and Communications Committee VC

More than 15 years ago, two women hatched a plan to launch EcoWomen. Today, there are more than 5,000 women in the DC EcoWomen network. Here are a few photos to showcase DC EcoWomen through the years. I hope you enjoy them!

Alisa Gravitz, CEO of Green America, was the speaker at our first EcoHour – a free event where successful women in the environmental field discuss their work (left). In 2005, we heard from various women during our EcoHours. Juliet Eilperin, Environmental Reporter at Washington Post, was one of them (right).

In 2006, we held a Green Halloween Fundraiser. Here’s a picture of our board members at the event at Madam’s Organ (right). In May 2007, we had a spring fundraising date auction at Ireland’s Four Fields (left).

Eco-Outings hiked Old Rag in November 2008 (right).  In December 2008, they went ice skating in a sculpture garden (upper left). By March 2009, Eco-outings took archery lessons (bottom left).

Here’s our Five-Year Gala, held at the National Botanical Garden in June 2009.

In August 2009, DC EcoWomen went tubing (bottom right). We had fun at our 2009 Holiday Party (left), and enjoyed our wine tasting and networking event in April 2010 (upper right).

Our November 2010 EcoHour featured former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, seen here with Kelly Rand, former DC EcoWomen Chair.

Our Spring Wildflower Hike in April 2011 (upper left). In July 2011, we held an EcoMoms meeting (bottom left). By November 2011, former DC EcoWomen President Jessica Lubetsky instructed 20+ women on how to improve their resumes at our resume building workshop (right).

DC EcoWomen volunteered at the Walker Jones urban farm in July 2012 (right). In November 2012, we held a Craft, Chat and Chocolate event (left).

This picture was taken during a session at the May 2013 DC EcoWomen conference – I’m Here, What’s Next?

Our book club – a time when women discuss a book or series of small articles, blogs and podcasts with an environmental angle – met in May 2013 to discuss Silent Spring at the Navy Memorial/National Archives.

DC EcoWomen members tabled during the 2013 Green Living Expo DC (upper left). Our members volunteered at a 2013 coastal cleanup with Women’s Aquatic Network (bottom left). In October 2013, we hosted a locavore potluck (right).

DC EcoWomen coordinated a mentor tea at Hillwood Estate in 2014 (left). We also put on a clothing swap in fall 2015 (right).

DC EcoWomen went behind-the-scenes during a tour of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Sept 2015 (left). We held a rock climbing event in February 2016 (right).

This picture was taken during our August 2016 Board Retreat.

Our Women’s Suffrage Parade Walking Tour in March 2017 (left). We participated in the People’s Climate March in April 2017 (bottom right). We also coordinated a Working Women in American History Bike Tour in May 2017 (upper right).

The Skills-building Leveling Up Workshop in December 2017 (left). DC EcoWomen and Department of Energy’s May 2018 event, which showcased two of the world’s first commercial hydrogen fuel cell cars (right).

Back to where it all began, an EcoHour! This picture is from February 2019 and includes members of our Professional Development Committee and our speaker Stephanie Ritchie, Agriculture and Natural Resources Librarian at the University of Maryland (third from left).

Alyssa Ritterstein is a driven communications professional, with a proven track record of creating and executing successful communications and media relations strategies for nonprofit organizations, associations and a public relations firm. Her career spans various climate, energy and environmental communications work.

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Getting the Most of Autumn: Where to “Hike Locally”

By DC EcoBlogger Dawn Bickett

The crisp air and changing leaves of autumn – along with a new reason to celebrate: the end of the shutdown – make it the perfect season to be outdoors and hiking. But finding, and getting to, a nearby trail can feel like a serious challenge, especially when you live in a city.

Luckily, there are many trails scattered in and around the District, several less than 2 miles from the National Mall! Whether you are looking for a strenuous hike or a quick stroll out of earshot of traffic, you don’t need to drive hours to get out of town – you can explore within the District for some time in nature.

Wondering where to start? Check out these great local trails in and near Washington, D.C.


Rock Creek Park 

Certainly one of the most popular green spaces in D.C., Rock Creek Park boasts miles of secluded trails that meander along hills and waterways. Trails here vary from rocky climbs to sandy creek-side walks. For some specific routes, check out these three great short hikes suggested by Active Life DC. Rock Creek Park is easily accessible by foot, car, bus, or by taking the metro to the Adams Morgan/Zoo Station.

Theodore Roosevelt Island
It is no accident that the memorial to President Theodore Roosevelt – the creator of 5 national parks and 150 national forests– is surrounded by hiking trails. Theodore Roosevelt Island is located in the middle of the Potomac River, just east of Rosslyn. And while the island is small, it has several miles of trails uninterrupted by development. The island’s parking lot is easily accessible by car, bike, or foot, and is near the Rosslyn Metro Station. Bird watchers take note: the island known for its large population of waterfowl.

Potomac Heritage Trail (PHT) 

The Potomac Heritage Trail is composed of a network of trails along the Potomac River, and the segment close to D.C. is a definitely worth a visit. Starting at the north corner of the Theodore Roosevelt Island parking lot, this trail runs up the Virginia side of the Potomac River for about 10 miles. The quiet and challenging trail is extremely rewarding – offering a wilder picture of the Potomac River than its cousin on the opposite bank, the paved C&O Canal. Be aware, the trail does have difficult footing in places and occasionally requires scrambling – so be prepared to get a bit dirty and wear shoes with traction!

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
If rocky trails and secluded woods aren’t your style, but you still love being outdoors, then the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are worth a visit. Stretching along the Anacostia River, the gardens offer several miles of trails through cultivated water plants and the only remaining tidal marsh in the District. The gardens are peaceful, visually stunning, and within walking distance from the Deanwood Metro Station.

Great Falls Park 

At 18 miles from the National Mall, Great Falls Park is only accessible by car (or bicycle, for the motivated cyclist), but this list would not be complete without it. This park is a favorite for rock climbers and kayakers. And with over a dozen trails to choose from, it’s perfect for hikers as well. Different trails offer scenic routes to view the falls – an impressive cascade of the Potomac River. Whichever path you take in the park, the incredible view of the falls is worth the trip.

These are just a few of the amazing trails tucked away right here in our own backyard, so challenge yourself to ‘hike local’ this season.  As soon as the shutdown concludes, pick a new trail, and head to some of DC’s great green places.

Didn’t see your favorite DC hiking trail included here? Please comment with your recommendation to share the knowledge!

Great Falls

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By DC EcoWomen blogger Dawn Bickett

One of the reasons I love Washington DC is that its strong public transit and walkable neighborhoods often make owning or using a car unnecessary. But when I tried leaving the city for the great outdoors, I found I could barely get past the Beltway without one.

Turns out, I was wrong. Car-less DC EcoWomen, I have some exciting news! It is possible to hike, backpack, and camp outside of DC without driving there. And not only can it be done, it can lead you to one of the most famous hiking routes in the United States: The Appalachian Trail.

This summer, a friend suggested going on a backpacking trip, and I checked to see if we could get somewhere without taking a car. Looking up nearby hiking trails, I discovered that the Appalachian Trail briefly touches West Virginia in Harpers Ferry. Then, just 25 miles north of Harpers Ferry, the trail runs through the small town of Myersville, MD.

And researching transit lines, I noticed Myersville has a park-and-ride serviced by the 991 MARC commuter bus, and Harpers Ferry is served by MARC commuter trains on weekdays as well as AMTRAK trains on weekends. We had found the perfect weekend backpacking trip – no driving necessary.

The only hitch with using commuter transit was that we had to leave and return on commuter time. We headed to Myersville Friday afternoon on the first 991 bus and came back to DC via MARC train early morning the following Monday. In between those trips were two days of beautiful views, quiet rivers, Civil War sites, the original Washington Monument, and even some tubing down the Shenandoah.

We passed through several state parks, crossed two rivers, and got a small taste of the winding Appalachian Trail. All without a car. Total transit cost? $16 roundtrip.

Unfortunately, most regional and state parks around DC are not as easy to get to, but from Harpers Ferry, hikers can wander up in to Maryland as we did, head down into Virginia, or even just stick around near town.

Cycling ecowomen can also pedal up the C&O Canal, which travels from Georgetown all the way to Cumberland, MD, and has campsites every 6 to 8 miles.

So the next time you want to get out of the city and in to nature – whether or not you have car – consider looking first at public transit or even bike trails. You might be surprised at where you can get!

View of the Potomac River from our campsite near Harpers Ferry