Ryan Reese is the assistant grade head for the 11th and 12th grades, an American history teacher, a coach, and a faculty sponsor of the student government. And, it turns out, a mountain climber—
It was an early morning, as several Falcon mountaineers convened outside the Woodley Park Metro station in Washington, D.C. around 7:30 AM. First on the scene, Ms. Lily Adelstein appeared ready and willing with her superlight packing gear and minimalist approach. Within minutes, Mr. Harrison Schutzer made his presence known, dressed in a wicking technical top and the classic hiking pants that unzip at the knee in order to accommodate the greater range of motion necessary to scaling high peaks. Lastly, Mr. Dylan McGuire and Mr. Henry Van Dusen strolled up the escalator—the former seemed to emerge straight from the pages of an L.L. Bean catalog and the latter from the Salvation Army.
It was a ragtag crew that accompanied my wife and me. Upon first glance, nobody could have predicted the successes that were to come.
As we made our way to Shenandoah National Park, we made only one stop. It was not for coffee, food, directions or gas. Nay . . . it was to make the time-honored pilgrimage to The Apple House. In said establishment, we encountered such wonders as Pumpkin Bling (rhinestones meant to bedazzle one’s jack-o-lantern), a hot sauce named “Born in the USA . . . not China,” and enough Vera Bradley bags to outfit an entire army of pearl-wearing prepsters. It was a quick stop, but it armed us with the motivation and will to continue.
We then drove further towards the mountain that some call Old Rag. As we approached the parking lot that was choked with the chariots of weekend warriors, an elderly woman offered her field as a place to leave our vehicle. She was only charging $10 and told us that there was no other place anywhere close to park. We paid the toll and proceeded to the trailhead. As we walked through the regular parking area, we saw approximately seven open spots. We had been swindled by an elderly woman. This said, we would not be deterred.
We set forth at a steady clip, passing young and old alike. As a tight, cohesive group, we made great time towards the summit. At one point, we decided to stop in order to play the game called, “Hit the tree trunk over there with a rock.” We all lost as nobody hit the trunk at all.
As we entered the rock scramble, other groups seemed to fall by the wayside. Mother Nature and her boulders proved too much for them to handle, as voices were raised, tempers flared and seemingly normal folk lost their mettle. Not us, not today.
We forged ahead toward glory. After successfully navigating the most difficult section of craggy outcrops and rock formations that seemingly defied the laws of physics, the group steadied itself for the final ascent. In the year of Our Lord two thousand and ten, at roughly 2:15 PM on this November the thirteenth, we achieved the summit, standing at 3,284 feet above sea level. After 3-plus hours of hiking, we had gained over 2200 vertical feet, and we celebrated by taking epic, victory photos and feasting on sandwiches of peanut butter and jam, chocolate bars of the richest cacao and a low-calorie nectar of the gods known only as, “G2.”
To further the legend of all those involved, one must only witness the visual evidence presented here.
Best regards to all,
Ryan W. Reese