FWC PROGRAMS FOR 2021

 

 

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING FIRST:

 

(ALL PROGRAMS ARE ON SATURDAYS UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.)

Additional program details will be provided as dates draw closer, so please check back for final changes and details that may be of importance.

 

RESERVATIONS: To assist in the logistical planning for each event, we request that you RSVP to FWC General Manager, Kimberly Benson, by email Center@FriendsWilderness.org or by phone 304-261-1183 or to the alternate person/email indicated in the event write-up. 

 

DIRECTIONS: The FWC is in a secluded forest setting on the Blue Ridge that is reached via an unpaved, winding road over the last portion of the route. If you have not visited the FWC before, we strongly recommend that you consult our DIRECTIONS PAGE before heading out to visit and/or use the Waze app on your smart phone to locate the Niles Cabin and to allow at least 20 minutes extra time to your travel time to provide yourself a time cushion for contingencies.

PROGRAM COST: Except where noted, there is no set cost for a program BUT we do ask that you make a donation to the FWC for each program commensurate with the enjoyment you received from the program. FWC is entirely dependent on donations for meeting its operating expenses, and your donations help keep the lights on and programs such as the ones you enjoyed, being offered in the future. When making an online donation via our website’s Support Page, please use the notes feature to indicate the program or purpose for which you are making the donation to help us tie your donation to a particular program reservation.

MEALS: Due to COVID restrictions we are currently NOT OFFERING home-cooked meals as an option when you visit for programs. However, Brown Bag lunches are always acceptable, but we ask that you make sure to take all personal beverage containers away when you leave to recycle at home.

The following are the FWC-sponsored programs that are currently scheduled for 2021. As the pandemic situation permits, we will hopefully return to offering more in-person programs while following state, Federal and CDC guidelines regarding masks, social distancing, and recommended mitigation protocols. While we expect it will be some time before pre-COVID visitation protocols and face-to-face programs can resume, please consider visiting the Friends Center to avail yourself of the beauty and grace of Nature that our trails and woods have in abundance and breathe in the freshness and vitality of what we hope will be a happier New Year for us all. If coming out for a hike, please call ahead to let Kimberly Benson know that you will be coming and about when you expect to arrive at the Niles Cabin.

 

Date: Saturday, January 9, 2021

Time: 4 PM EST

RSVP: svasterias@gmail.com for zoom link

 Sustainability is often sought after, but what does it mean to be sustainable? Is it a state or a process? How can you work toward it? Can you measure your efforts or progress? How does sustainability apply to buildings or organizations?

These questions will be explored by the Benson family in the context of their lives as climate activists and with the backdrop of Friends Wilderness Center.

 The Benson family are: Kimberly, Carl, Kallan (16), & Reece (15) are long-time climate activists working at the local, state, national, & international levels. Kimberly also serves on the board of FWC.

 Please RSVP to receive access information for this virtual event.

 FWC programs are free, but participants who are able are encouraged to donate to support the work of the center. $10/person is suggested, but any amount is welcome and donations are not required. We never want money to be an impediment to your participation. 

 

EVENT: “What Sustains Us:  A guided Meditation on the Ground of Joy"

Date: Saturday, February 13, 2021

Time: 10 AM until Noon EST

 Friends Wilderness Center is inviting you to “What Sustains Us:  A guided Meditation on the Ground of Joy" on Saturday, February 13 from 10:00am until noon.  This meditation will involve reflections that arise from the desire to ground ourselves in nature and the divine.  It will be led by Liz Huntington, a RYT-500 hour Yoga Teacher, certified C-IAYT Yoga Therapist and iRest Level 1 Meditation Teacher.  Her focus is working with individuals and small groups to develop and refine an integrated personal practice of posture, breath work and meditation.  The program will be offered on zoom.  To register, please email:  dfsud@comcast.net and you will receive the zoom link.

Friends Wilderness Center programs are offered monthly to all who are interested.  If you are able, we ask that you consider a donation to the Center which can be made by visiting our website at:  www.friendswilderness.org.  

 

EVENT: Shenandoah Salamander Shuffle

Date: Saturday, March 20, 2021

Time: 10 AM until 1 PM EST

RSVP: Kimberly Benson at email svasterias@gmail.com

Donations are appreciated. Suggested levels are $10/person or $25/families.

 Background: ‘Salamander’ is a composite word derived from the Persian words for ‘fire' and ‘within'. A group of salamanders is called a congress.’ The Americas are quite rich in salamanders, having more than all the rest of the world combined. Virginia has approximately 10% (55) of the world's species with many of these species being found in the cool, moist areas of the Blue Ridge (which may not be cool and moist for much longer due to changes in local climate conditions).

The Appalachian Region & Blue Ridge Mountains are the global hot spot for salamanders, home to more species than anywhere else in the world. The cool, moist conditions found on the forest floor & rocky streams of this ancient mountain range provide ideal habitat for salamanders, with some species found nowhere else on Earth. Some species are found on only a few mountain peaks in the region. Check out this short movie from the Smithsonian which is short, wonderfully photographed and very informative: https://vimeo.com/26202702. If you have never given a second thought to these remarkable little creatures, you will be pleasantly amazed by this video and given more than adequate incentive to join us for this wonderful program. Here are two useful websites where you can learn more about the salamanders found near the Friends Wilderness Center:  website #1 that will introduce you to many of the salamanders in the Blue Ridge and another website #2 where you can download a guide to salamanders of West Virginia. 

 Program: This will be a family friendly hike led by Kimberly Benson, a naturalist and outdoor educator with the assistance of her family. They will lead you through the Blue Ridge forests at the Friends Center in search of salamanders. Kimberly will discuss the species found in the area, show you’re their favored habitats, talk about global & local threats, & explain how to ethically search for salamanders without disturbing or harming them as you enjoy nature. Kimberly will also retrieve traps that have been deployed in salamander habitat & hopefully have some local specimens for the group to examine and identify.

This will be an easy hike over moderately, uneven terrain with some elevation changes. Stops will be frequent & easy opportunities will be available to shorten the hike. Please bring your own snacks & beverages and take all bottles and trash with you when you depart. All activities will be outdoors, maintaining social distance. Participants (over age 3) are required to wear masks. Restroom facilities will be available at the Niles Cabin.

 If you have not visited the FWC before, please consult our DIRECTIONS PAGE and/or use the Waze app on your smart phone to locate the Niles Cabin.

 

Signs of Spring  

Date: April 10, 2021

Time: 10 AM-2 PM

Location: Friends Wilderness Center, 305 Friends Way, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425

RSVP: svasterias@gmail.com

DESCRIPTION: The soft pastels of spring are washing over the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah Valley. Join this family friendly hike to observe spring awakening on the mountain as flora and fauna welcome the warmth & bounty of the season.

HIKE: This hike will be moderately challenging over rocky screens & some uneven terrain with an elevation change of approximately 600'.  

PREPARATIONS: Please bring your own snacks & beverages. Temperature changes during the season can be dramatic, so dressing in layers is recommended. Please bring gear for the occasional shower.

SAFETY: The hike will be rescheduled if heavy rain or thunderstorms are predicted. Participants will be reminded to maintain social distance. All (over age 3) are required to wear masks. Restroom facilities will be available at the Niles Cabin prior to & after the hike.

DONATIONS are appreciated. Suggested levels are $10/person or $25/families.

 

Spring Work Day  

Date: Saturday  April 24, 2021

Time: 10 AM-4 PM

Location: Friends Wilderness Center, 305 Friends Way, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425

RSVP: Please RSVP to Sheila Bach at naturesheila@gmail.com or 571 271 6267

DESCRIPTION: 

 We hope to see many of you here at the Friends Wilderness Center on Saturday, April 24 from 10 AM to 4 PM to help make the place looking spruced up. Here are the items most needing attention.

1.    Wash all the windows – most of which are sliding glass doors, one person will be outside and the other inside you can catch something that has been missed.

2.    We need some strong people to cut and split some wood so that we will have wood for next winter. If you have a chain saw and an ax to split the wood, that would be great.

3.    Working on the trail around the pond needs to be done. It has been neglected for several years and needs work so that someone who wants to take a short walk can do so without falling.

4.    The pond needs work both in the water and around the edges. It is only 2 feet deep at the most. If you have some pants, socks, and shoes that don’t mind getting wet and/or wader boots those would be a help. Also getting rid of some of the plants on the edge of the pond would help.

5.    The old shed could use some cleaning out. Part of it has been used for storage of things that may or may not be useful.

6.    Other tasks are available if the above tasks get taken care of or you wish to apply your talents in other ways.

Lunch will be available for those who request it when RSVPing or you may bring your own. Social distancing will be practiced since some participants may not have had their vaccinations. Please bring your own water bottle! 

Please RSVP to Sheila Bach (naturesheila@gmail.com or 571 271 6267) let her know if you will be coming and number of others with you! And if this is you first visit to the FWC, PLEASE consult our Directions Page on the website before leaving home.

 Saturday May 8th

TWO NATURE PROGRAMS:

Program #1: WATERFALL ADVENTURE (Easy, accessible, 1/2 mile trail to 1 waterfall)

Date: SATURDAY, MAY 8

Time: 12:00 Noon

Where: Meet at Friends Wilderness Center (Niles Cabin) for a short drive to the trail access along very rustic roads & into a field. The entire route is passable with 2WD. You can anticipate that your vehicle will receive a significant dust bath.  

RSVP: svasterias@gmail.com

 

Program #2: WATERFALLS & WILDFLOWERS

Date: SATURDAY, MAY 8

Time: 10 AM to 2 PM

Where: Meet at Friends Wilderness Center (Niles Cabin)

RSVP: svasterias@gmail.com

Description: Discover the waterfalls of Rolling Ridge & marvel the Spring wildflowers that thrive in the moist lowlands & along the banks of our mountain streams.

Hike: This hike will be moderately challenging. We will cross rocky streams, trek through lowlands, & hike some inclines. Expect elevation changes of approximately 600' from the Niles Cabin to the Shenandoah River & back, about 2.5 miles roundtrip.

Preparation: Please bring your own snacks & beverages. Check the weather forecast for Shannondale, WV & dress for the conditions.

Safety: The hike will be rescheduled if heavy rain or thunderstorms are predicted. Participants will be reminded to maintain social distance. All (over age 3) are required to wear masks. Restroom facilities will be available at the Niles Cabin prior to & after the hike.

DONATIONS are appreciated. Suggested levels are $10/person or $25/families.

 

FIREFLY MIDSUMMER'S NIGHT HIKE

Date: June 12

Time: 6-9 PM

Location: Meet at Friends Wilderness Center (Niles Cabin)

RSVP: svasterias@gmail.com

DESCRIPTION: As midsummer's night approaches, fireflies illuminate the Niles Cabin ponds accompanied by an evening choir of frogs. Enjoy an easy, early-evening, family-friendly hike to the treehouse for campfire s'mores before strolling back between the ponds at dusk to dance on the lawn, moved by the magical symphony of sight & sound.

HIKE: This hike will be relatively easy, over uneven terrain but with little elevation change. The approximate distance is about 1.5 miles round trip, with ample time to relax & enjoy fireside treats.

PREPARATIONS: S'more fixings will be offered, but please feel free to bring your own snacks & beverages. Consider using bug repellent to ensure that you are not on the menu of some of the less welcome winged participants! Also, check the weather forecast for Shannondale, WV & dress for the conditions. Even in the summer, evenings can get chilly.

SAFETY: The hike will be rescheduled if heavy rain or thunderstorms are predicted. Participants will be reminded to maintain social distance. All (over age 3) are required to wear masks. Restroom facilities will be available at the Niles Cabin prior to & after the hike.

DONATIONS are appreciated. Suggested levels are $10/person or $25/families.

 

WILD BLUEBERRY BOUND HIKE

Date: July 10

Time: 10 AM - 2 PM

Location: Meet at Friends Wilderness Center (Niles Cabin)

RSVP: friendswildernesscenter@gmail.com

DESCRIPTION: Most years the wild native blueberry bushes burst into fruit July through August serving up their bounty to the delight of animals & nature lovers. If this year proves typical, we should have ample fruits of nature to fortify body & spirit as we trek to the ridge up the powerline trail, navigate the Devil's Backbone (AKA Rattlesnake Rocks), and descend along Friends Trail looping back to the Niles Cabin.

HIKE: This hike will be reasonably challenging over rocky screens & uneven terrain with an elevation change of approximately 600'. The distance is approximately 3 miles, with significant ascents in sections.

PREPARATIONS: Please bring your own water, snacks/lunch, & equipment. Trekking poles are useful along the rocky upper ridge trail. Hats & sunscreen are recommended. Consider using bug repellent to ensure that you are not on the menu of some of the less desirable winged wildlife or crawling cousins! Boots & long pants tucked into socks can be helpful to avoid bites & injury.

SAFETY: The hike will be rescheduled if heavy rain or thunderstorms are predicted.

ACCESSIBILITY: All of our hikes offer opportunities to shorten the distance and time. Most offer alternate rendezvous points, where we can arrange to meet individuals or groups seeking a less challenging excursion. Please let us know if you have particular needs or interests, we will be happy to try to recommend and arrange variations and the information will help improve accommodation on future hikes.

DONATIONS are appreciated. Suggested levels are $10/person or $25/families.

 

SHENANDOH BIRDING EXCURSION HIKE

Date: August 14

Time: 10 AM - 2 PM

Location: Meet at Friends Wilderness Center (Niles Cabin)

RSVP: friendswildernesscenter@gmail.com

DESCRIPTION: Enjoy bird watching along the Shenandoah lowlands as we hike from the Niles Cabin to Cool Springs Campus on the River to Ridge Trail. Frequently seen are Blue Birds, Cardinals, Robins, Red-winged Blackbirds, Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Juncos, Baltimore Oriole, Scarlet Tanagers, Eastern Towhees, Turkey, Carolina Wrens, Phoebes, Indigo Buntings, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and many species of woodpecker, including the spectacular Pileated. Rolling Ridge provides valuable habitat for the vulnerable Cerulean Warbler. Eagle Aeries are evident on both sides of the river and the island at Cool Springs hosts a blue heron rookery. Learn and discover the avian diversity of the area along with us.

HIKE: The hike should be moderately challenging, about 2.5 miles from the Niles Cabin to the Shenandoah River & back. Expect elevation changes of approximately 600'. Paths in Rolling Ridge are clear, but natural and irregular. We will cross some shallow rocky streams, one with constructed steps. On Cool Springs Campus, trails are paved, but largely unshaded. Returning to Niles Cabin requires navigating 1 noteworthy uphill portion.

PREPARATIONS: Please bring your own water, snacks/lunch, & equipment: binoculars, camera, favorite field guides... Hats & sunscreen are recommended. Consider using bug repellent to ensure that you are not on the menu of some of the less desirable winged wildlife or crawling cousins!

SAFETY: The hike will be rescheduled if heavy rain or thunderstorms are predicted.

ACCESSIBILITY: All of our hikes offer opportunities to shorten the distance and time. Most offer alternate rendezvous points, where we can arrange to meet individuals or groups seeking a less challenging excursion. Please let us know if you have particular needs or interests, we will be happy to try to recommend and arrange variations and the information will help improve accommodation on future hikes.

DONATIONS are appreciated. Suggested levels are $10/person or $25/families.

 

CLOSING THE LOOP IN NATURE HIKE

Date: September 11

Time: 9 AM - 4 PM

Location: Meet at Friends Wilderness Center (Niles Cabin)

RSVP: Center@FriendsWilderness.org

DESCRIPTION: We "close the loop" when we finish what we started, when we embrace, when we join hands with others, when we acknowledge where we came from, when we accept that our lives & spirit do not begin or end but contribute to a never-ending whole, a natural continuum. For perspective, we tackle completion of the (~15 mile) Perimeter Loop Trail, from the upper reaches of the ridge to the Shenandoah, through the various habitats of Rolling Ridge.

HIKE: This hike will be challenging & of significant duration. We will traverse an elevation change of about 1300' over the course of the ~15 mile loop hike. Terrain will be uneven over mountain streams & significant rocky screes along the upper ridge.

PREPARATIONS: Please bring your own water, snacks/lunch, & equipment. Trekking poles are very useful along the rocky upper ridge trail. Hats & sunscreen are recommended. Consider using bug repellent to ensure that you are not on the menu of some of the less desirable winged wildlife or crawling cousins! Boots & long pants tucked into socks can be helpful to avoid bites & injury.

SAFETY: The hike will be rescheduled if heavy rain or thunderstorms are predicted.

ACCESSIBILITY: All of our hikes offer opportunities to shorten the distance and time. Most offer alternate rendezvous points, where we can arrange to meet individuals or groups seeking a less challenging excursion. Please let us know if you have particular needs or interests, we will be happy to try to recommend and arrange variations and the information will help improve accommodation on future hikes.

DONATIONS are appreciated. Suggested levels are $10/person or $25/families.

 

RUINS OF ROLLING RIDGE HIKE

Date: October 9

Time: 10 AM - 2 PM

Location: Meet at Friends Wilderness Center (Niles Cabin)

RSVP: Center@FriendsWilderness.org

DESCRIPTION: Chimneys, crumbling foundations, boundary walls, remnants of roads, even the occurrence of plants & animals... tell stories about the lives of past inhabits & uses of the land, but the narrative is far from complete. Cultures that aim to master or dominate the landscape leave more tangible evidence than those that value sustainability & harmony with nature. What hints do the shape of the forest & its features offer into its history & the lives it has witnessed? What evidence of the past might have become obscured or obliterated by more recent habitation? What stories are we missing? How do we acknowledge, appreciate, & celebrate the full wealth of richness that reflects the breadth of our cultural & spiritual heritage, not one skewed to amplify stories etched by recent scars & embodied in the existing community?

Contemplate these questions as we trace Mission Road to Popkin's Place, loop back to Grand Blvd past the Chimney, over to the powerline, and back along Friends Trail past Christ Church.

HIKE: This hike will be moderate length & duration but little elevation change. Terrain will be somewhat uneven & include crossing over shallow, rocky, mountain streams.

PREPARATIONS: Please bring your own water, snacks/lunch, & equipment. Hats & sunscreen are recommended. Consider using bug repellent. Boots & long pants tucked into socks can be helpful to minimize the chance of bites & injury. As the day of the hike approaches, please check the weather forecast for Shannondale, WV & select layers of clothing appropriate for the conditions.

SAFETY: The hike will be rescheduled if heavy rain or thunderstorms are predicted.

ACCESSIBILITY: All of our hikes offer opportunities to shorten the distance and time. Most offer alternate rendezvous points, where we can arrange to meet individuals or groups seeking a less challenging excursion. Please let us know if you have particular needs or interests, we will be happy to try to recommend and arrange variations and the information will help improve accommodation on future hikes.

DONATIONS are appreciated. Suggested levels are $10/person or $25/families.

 

CEMETERY SOJOURN HIKE: Considering Those That Came Before

Date: November 6

Time: 10 AM - 2 PM

Location: Meet at Friends Wilderness Center (Niles Cabin) We will walk from Niles Cabin to Christ Church Cemetery, along Friends Trail to the cemetery near Hunters' Field, out Wedding Walk & Grand Boulevard to Hiskett Cemetery, back along the lower loop of the Perimeter Trail & up the power lines near the Dome.

RSVP: Center@FriendsWilderness.org

DESCRIPTION: The history of Rolling Ridge extends far beyond the Niles. It is etched into the rocks that form these mountains. It is evident in the shape and structure of the forest. And, it is hidden beneath our feet as undiscovered artifacts and stories taken to the grave. Day of the Dead, All Saints' Day, All Souls' Day... call on us to consider those that came before. Join us as we sojourn through the cemeteries of Rolling Ridge and contemplate those whose forgotten footsteps we tread.

HIKE: This hike will be moderate length (approximately 3.5 miles) with little overall elevation change (about 100'). Terrain is hilly & uneven, include crossing over shallow, rocky, mountain streams.

PREPARATIONS: Please bring your own water, snacks/lunch, & equipment. Hats & sunscreen are recommended. Consider using bug repellent. Boots & long pants tucked into socks can be helpful to minimize the chance of bites & injury. As the day of the hike approaches, please check the weather forecast for Shannondale, WV & select layers of clothing appropriate for the conditions.

SAFETY: The hike will be cancelled/rescheduled if heavy rain or thunderstorms are predicted.

ACCESSIBILITY: All of our hikes offer opportunities to shorten the distance and time. Most offer alternate rendezvous points, where we can arrange to meet individuals or groups seeking a less challenging excursion. Please let us know if you have particular needs or interests, we will be happy to try to recommend and arrange variations and the information will help improve accommodation on future hikes.

DONATIONS are appreciated. Suggested levels are $10/person or $25/families.

 

FOREST THERAPY: Gratitude & Giving in Nature

Date: November 27

Time: 2:30 - 4:00 PM

Location: Friends Wilderness Center (Niles Cabin)

RSVP: Center@FriendsWilderness.org

DESCRIPTION: The harvest season has traditionally been a time to express gratitude for the bounty & benevolence of the nature. True gratitude arises from humility & wholeness, a sense of connection to all life & the earth around us. This Thanksgiving weekend join us on the meadow at Niles Cabin as Jodi Good helps us restore our connection to the natural world through a session of Forest Therapy. Expand your senses, open your heart, give and receive the generous gifts of accepting your place in the natural world.

PREPARATIONS: Please bring your own water, snacks, folding chair--if you have a preference (some chairs will be available). As the day of the hike approaches, please check the weather forecast for Shannondale, WV & dress to comfortably connect with nature outdoors. A campfire will be burning if temperatures are a bit uncomfortable.

SAFETY: The program will be cancelled/rescheduled if the weather is inhospitable.

ACCESSIBILITY: This program will be non-exertive. Participants are welcome to sit, stand, or stroll in the meadow.

DONATIONS are appreciated. Suggested levels are $10/person or $25/families.

 

ANNUAL REFLECTION HIKE

Date: WEDNESDAY, December 29 (During the week between Christmas and New Years)

Time: 10 AM - 2 PM

Location: Meet at Friends Wilderness Center (Niles Cabin) We will walk from Niles Cabin to Raven Rocks along the River to Ridge Trail. Alternate routes are available.

RSVP: Center@FriendsWilderness.org

DESCRIPTION: Hike in silent contemplation through the Appalachian woods with Jonathon Glass (Sandy Spring Friends Meeting). Reflect on the events & experiences of 2021. Like a web suspended along the path, the unexpected obstructions of the year will ultimately prove ephemeral, but they present an opportunity to pause. Every twist and turn fills a particular space. Each point of tension contributes to the integrity of the whole. Seek peace & acceptance, observing 2020 without judgement, bathed in soft winter glow. Allow light & silence to clear a path forward as you walk among flora & fauna patiently awaiting the renewal of Spring.

HIKE: This hike will be moderate challenging about 4 miles in length round trip, with approximately 800' of elevation change. Terrain is steep & uneven, include crossing over shallow, rocky, mountain streams.

PREPARATIONS: Please bring your own water, snacks/lunch, & equipment. Hats & sunscreen are recommended. Consider using bug repellent. Boots & long pants tucked into socks can be helpful to minimize the chance of bites & injury. As the day of the hike approaches, please check the weather forecast for Shannondale, WV & select layers of clothing appropriate for the conditions.

SAFETY: The hike will be cancelled/rescheduled if the weather makes conditions unpleasant or dangerous.

ACCESSIBILITY: All of our hikes offer opportunities to shorten the distance and time. Most offer alternate rendezvous points, where we can arrange to meet individuals or groups seeking a less challenging excursion. Please let us know if you have particular needs or interests, we will be happy to try to recommend and arrange variations and the information will help improve accommodation on future hikes.

DONATIONS are appreciated. Suggested levels are $10/person or $25/families.

  

ADDITIONAL EVENTS: Additional programs will be added to our schedule as they are planned and scheduled. We normally schedule our programs on the 2nd Saturday of each month. Please check back to see what programs are added and for updated information on ones already scheduled.