11 KM VOLKSMARCH - APRIL 10, 1999: On a spectacularly sunny, cool spring Saturday here in Maryland, my club, the Seneca Valley Sugarloafers Volksmarch Club, put on an outstanding walking event through the neighborhood streets and pathways in the Kenwood area of Bethesda. Rainstorm clouds and winds the day before threatened the focus of the event a bit, in that I was afraid the strong storm winds would blow all the cherry blossoms down off the trees, but luckily that was not the case and the peak blossom stage held strong throughout the walking day.
India and Peaches, my mainstay walking companions of the canine variety, and I met our friends Eric and Valerie (with her dog Rupert) at or about the start point around 10 am. There were actually a few little variations to this but I won't go into that here. The outside checkpoint on tables was fine on this glorious day. The Bethesda Community Pool just off Little Falls Parkway and the Capital Crescent Trail provided the start point, with overflow parking in nearby lots needed due to the great turnout. Written directions were handed out to every walker, with a 5 km option available. But we opted for the longer distance with everything going so well on this day. Eric and Valerie just do the walk for free, and Valerie had to cut it short after the first loop due to some recent foot surgery complications.
The first loop was through the Kenwood development, accessed easily through a few turns off the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT), a very popular rails to trails route that goes from Bethesda to Georgetown. We were fortunate not to use too much of this trail today; it was quite crowded with many different users such as roller bladers and cyclists; on a rather narrow trail going in both directions it really gets quite busy and not all that safe; we had a collision between several roller bladers occur right in front of us on the trail. However, the CCT was invaluable for use in linking the various sections we walked through today.
Strolling through the Kenwood neighborhood with cherry trees in full bloom on this gorgeous day had to be seen and experienced to be believed. There were many sightseers out in their cars and on foot through the neighborhood streets, which are not very wide in most places to start with. So you had to take your time and really enjoy the sights and smells of the day. Every turn yielded more cherry blossom lined streets, and more people having a great time enjoying the scenery. Some enterprising children set up refreshment stands at strategic locations along the route, they were doing some great business selling lemonade, cookies, etc.
Exiting Kenwood along Brookside Dr, a double laned street that gave you double your blossoms so to speak, we crossed River Road and passed the Westbard Shopping Center, where rest rooms at a grocery store could be used if need be. A straight stretch along Westbard Ave that eventually headed downhill to Massachusetts Avenue kind of let you unwind after the intense beauty of the Kenwood Cherry Blossoms. We crossed Massachusetts Ave and went under the CCT, where our first checkpoint was found as a question about the date on the overpass. A short, steep dirt path uphill was negotiated to get up to the CCT.
The CCT brought us back towards the start, as we crossed over Massachusetts Ave and River Road to Dorset. A turn on Dorset led us to Little Falls Parkway where we turned onto this paved path paralleling the Parkway in a lovely garden like setting with babbling brooks and budding trees of differing varieties. We had to count the turning paths to the right; the fourth one was ours, and it let uphill into the Norwood section, a big school with playing fields, tennis courts, and some old brick buildings. Norwood Ave was our next turn as we exited this park, and a short distance later we were turning left onto busy Wisconsin Avenue. We didn't stay on that popular street for long, as we turned onto Nottingham and to the second checkpoint at a local Firehouse. Since we could not pay our credit fees at the start point, we paid them here, got our start cards stamped, and used the restroom and water facilities there.