District of Columbia: Fort Reno (409ft) Ranked #50/51*
The USAF 50 Summits Challenge is now in motion! The DC kickoff was a huge success with over 30 participants from all over the DC metro area and as far as Iowa and Idaho. It was amazing to meet the local base Chaplains, families and servicemen of all ranks, members of the TACP (Tactical Air Control Party) community which included the career field functional manager and a Silver Star winner, and a two-time cancer survivor!
Weather was beautiful with a clear, breezy, and balmy 73 degrees and the Air Force Memorial was the perfect backdrop to the start of the hike. After some socializing and introductions, we walked through Arlington National Cemetery (150th year anniversary) to honor the memories of those lost in the last 14 years of war which was somber but a fitting way to start our journey to the top of America's capital. Whether we were reflecting on lost friends, family members, or coworkers, we hope this project can create an environment of healing and motivation...and I was personally reminded of why we are doing this.
After Arlington, we walked around the Netherlands Carillon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netherlands_Carillon), the Marine Corps memorial, and through Rosslyn across the Key Bridge and into Georgetown as the Potomac was a flurry of kayakers, stand-up paddle boarders, and boaters. Dipping down a small trail to the C&O Canal Towpath (great biking trail), we followed the canal a half mile and crossed under via a tunnel onto the Glover-Archbold Trail. A lesser-known green space in DC, it was a spectacular hike along creeks, cool forest, people walking their cats (serious!) and a vertical elevation gain of around 200 feet over 3 miles...gasp!
We rounded up the hike after 3 hours at Fort Reno which is the high point in DC (451 feet) and took a picture with the team before we parted ways! For anyone who thinks this was super easy...the dog who accompanied us gave up at 6 miles and had to be carried.
Throughout the hike, we were all inspired and humbled by the tenacity and spirit of Candice (read her blog at http://www.kissestocancer.com/) who is a cancer survivor and fighter who signed up to do all 8 miles! Finishing the hike with her and seeing the support she received from her close friends encapsulated the resiliency and community this project is emphasizing. I was equally inspired as my friend (who is experiencing TBI after 10+ deployments) brought his 12 year old son and both expressed desire to participate in more summit challenges! As a team, we can all climb higher peaks and achieve more than thought possible.
Special thanks to the Capital Hiking Club for helping create the route and Arlington National Cemetery for allowing us access through the employee gate. I also want to thank TSgt Nicholas Kurtz from the Defense Media Agency as he documented the kickoff and was running in front of us through Arlington!
Thank you and hope to see you all on future summits as we help each other get to the top of America!
--Maj Chris Wilson
COMPLETED 31 MAY 14
The inaugural hike of the USAF 50 Summits Challenge!
Trip Leader: Maj Chris Wilson
Nearby Bases: Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Joint Base Andrews, and the Pentagon
Projected Date: Sat 31 May
Difficulty: Easy. 7-8 miles of walking over 2.5-3hrs in the DC area. The hike will start at the AF Memorial and go to DC's high-point via pavement and dirt trails.
If you are mobility challenged, let us know- we've got a plan for those who can't go 7-8 miles to join us for the last mile!
Fort Reno Park is a park in the Tenleytown neighborhood of Washington, D.C.. It is the highest point in the city, and was involved in the only Civil War battle to take place in the District of Columbia. The highpoint was resurveyed and a new USGS Benchmark was placed in 2007 at coordinates N 38.95198 and W 77.075922, a location open to the general public and outside the fenced area where the highpoint was previously believed to be. Fort Reno, at 409 feet, is actually lower than the top of the Washington Monument, which rises 555 feet from nearly sea level.
In early August 1861, engineers under Major John G. Barnard, in charge of the defenses of Washington, chose the highest point in the District of Columbia for the construction of a fort, with construction starting in earnest in August 1861 with the arrival of McCall's Division of Pennsylvania Reserves. The Utica Morning Herald (NY) of December 16, 1862 gives credit for the building of the fort specifically to the Ninth Regiment Pennsylvania Reserves, however it is known that other regiments of McCall's division were engaged in its construction and that of other forts in the vicinity. At the time the structure was named Fort Pennsylvania and was only renamed Fort Reno in 1863 in honor of Major General Jesse Lee Reno who died at the Battle of South Mountain in 1862. It was one of a string of forts circling Washington to defend it against the Confederates.
All trip updates and progress will be posted in the blog below