Near noon on a hot and humid Saturday I'm jogging from a friend's house toward the W&OD Trail. (My kids stay behind to play cards and board games.) Micro-mansion owners here clearly don't understand the ironic intent of Robert Frost's "Good fences make good neighbors" — all routes to the trail are blocked and marked No Trespassing. After exploring half a dozen suburban cul de sacs in vain I'm tuckered out and mostly walking. On Batten Hollow Rd. near Fonda Dr. I spy a doe standing by the street, next to a sign that says "Clarks Crossing Park". She retreats into the woods at my approach, followed by a tiny fawn.
The baby deer is a few weeks old, Bambi-dappled, the size of a small dog or large cat. I enter the park and mama white-tail bounds away noisily and with great drama, leaving her child crouching in the underbrush trying not to be seen. I set down my GPS and bottle of Gatorade and creep toward the infant, cellphone-camera ready. I get a single photo before the fawn decides to scurry off. (click for larger image; location is near 38.9265°N 77.2869°W)
Alone among the trees now I follow narrow winding paths, probably made by deer, to a tributary stream of Piney Branch and Difficult Run. A sheet of plywood and some stones help get me across, and after a slight scramble I find myself at mile 13.7 of the long-sought W&OD. A noisy gasoline-powered generator drives a pump for some construction project. Cyclists zoom past. I consider jogging to the Vienna trolley/fountain but come to my senses and turn back. A dirt path near mile 12.6 catches my eye. It leads me down to another creek and along a rustic trail into suburbia, a subdivision with streets labeled Prelude, Podium, and Percussion, from which I stagger to my friend's home near the Dulles Toll Road and Wolf Trap.