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2014 National Park "Free Entry" Dates!! January 20th Martin Luther King Jr. Day; February 15-17th Presidents Day weekend; April 19-20th opening weekend of National Park Week; August 25th National Park Service Birthday; September 27th National Public Lands Day; November 11th Veterans Day

Sunday, January 12, 2014

#3 - Manassas National Battlefield Park

After a week of snow, ice, frigid temperatures and heavy rains, today was a day to get out in the fresh air and sunshine! Wanting to stay away from steep hill climbs and muddy paths, this National Park offered up rolling hills, well-maintained paths, and the history of an event that happened just a short 152 years ago. That, along with temps near 50, allowed for a near-flawless and beautiful day.

I am not a Civil War buff, but must say I thoroughly enjoyed hiking back in time, to July 21, 1861 to explore some of the events - and cover the ground - of the Civil War's first major land battle.

"There is Jackson standing like a stone wall. Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer." -Brig. Gen Barnard Elliott Bee, Jr 

I started off today's hike at the statue of Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson. A Park Ranger pointed out a six mile trek that wound through gold colored grasses, wooded paths, family cemeteries, and strongholds held by both Union and Confederate soldiers. I couldn't have asked for a better route.

 The first of many deer I saw along the way

I noticed almost immediately that not many people were at the Park today. I know this will change as the weather improves, so I plan to take advantage of the ability to see sights while the crowds are small. Today, I had ample opportunity to come across a number of deer. They did not seem disturbed by me, so I passed with nothing more than a semi-watchful eye on their part.

 A Union Cannoneer's View

While a good portion of the hike was through wooded trails, the reality of what occurred here is identified in the fields, hills, tree lines, and houses that remain. The photo above is a view from a Union stronghold on Matthews Hill. Within eye-sight of where Confederate soldiers held Henry Hill. The tranquility of the area could not remove the fact that a lot of blood was spilled on this soil. Markers and memorials attest to that fact.

I appreciated the hike today. For the sun; the fresh air. For the serenity of this location. I was reminded yet again of what our National Parks have to offer.

Until next time... See you on the trails,


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