Do This: Sierra Club’s Annual One Day Hike (4/23/22)

C&O Canal Towpath

The 47th* annual Sierra Club One Day Hike (ODH) takes place on April 23rd.

It’s the ultimate local hiking challenge. Walk 31 miles (50K) or, if that doesn’t sound like enough, 62 miles (100K), all in one day. You hike from points along the C&O Canal Towpath, so it’s mostly flat and the scenery is often incredible. The 100K starts in Georgetown, while the 50K starts at White’s Ferry.

The event is exceedingly well-organized each year. The volunteers make the event happen. They operate all the support stations, providing snacks and drinks, plus the medical volunteers ready to help if you get blisters, or if you have other issues. At the end of the hike, traditionally you will find a celebration feast of chili, pizza and sodas.

I’ve done the 50K seven times, the last time was in 2018. (The ODH wasn’t held in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19). Typically the One Day Hike ends at the Bolivar Community Center, just up the road from Harper’s Ferry. Part of the charm of the overall experience is staying nearby and hanging out in Harper’s Ferry for the evening, then taking the train back to DC in the late morning.

Pro Tip: Practice walking and hiking! Don’t take on such a long distance without doing a good number of training hikes. Hike in the gear and shoes you will wear to break them in. Blisters would be your number one reason for not finishing.

Regular registration opens on February 10th @ 5pm and caps at 350 hikers.

(People that have finished the ODH five or more times can pre-register starting January 31st until February 3rd. Note: Any registrations during this period for hikers who have not completed at least five ODHs will NOT be valid, regardless of any auto-confirmation email message sent by the system.)

Register here (opens Feb. 10th).

Registration details have been posted here.

(Note: Usually registration re-opens after any cancellations, so if you miss out on one of 350 slots available, usually 40-50 people will cancel before the actual hike, so you’ll still have a chance.)

* The ODH wasn’t held in 2020 or 2021, so 2022 remains is the 47th version.

Tips for the 50K

* Training: Do at least 3-4 training hikes between 10-16 miles. More is always better, but ensure one hike is 16 miles or longer. Note: If you’re doing the 100K, without question do longer hikes, at least one 30-40 mile training hike would be the best strategy.

* Attire: Wear the shoes, socks and clothing you’ll use for the ODH on the training hikes. Helps identify blister hot spots and areas of chafing. Many people wear cross-trainers or running shoes. Hiking boots are also fine, but the terrain is flat and you may want to jog a bit.

* Prevent chafing: Use an anti-chafe balm (like Body Glide) in places that rub together.

* Foot care: Use moleskin on your feet before you start on your blister hot spots. Using the Body Glide on your feet also helps.

* Medical: Take a couple Advil at the first support station or after the first 1-2 hours. If you start to get blisters, have them treated at the next support station. Don’t wait, remember blisters are the primary reason people don’t finish the hike.

* On the hike: Try alternating between running and walking for short distances. For example, jog 1 minute and walk 3 minutes for a few miles. It helps to use different muscles. Drink a lot of fluids and eat a lot of salty snacks (conveniently supplied at the support stations).

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

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