Frequently asked questions

How fit do I need to be to go on a Wanderbirds hike?

You should be able to walk 7 miles within 4-5 hours, including going up hills which may be steep and rocky at times. Our moderate hikes usually have between 1000 and 2000 feet of elevation gain. That's like climbing the Washington Monument 2 to 4 times! Easier options are often available. Check with the leader when signing up. Click here for more information.

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How much does it cost?

The round-trip bus fare is $20 for club members and $25 for non-members. There may be additional park fees for some parks ($2 in Maryland and $5 or $8 in Shenandoah National Park, depending on the season), but we often have enough hikers with passes so that we do not need to pay the Shenandoah Park fees.

When we use car-pools, the club charges a $5.00 administrative fee and car-pool passengers pay drivers $10.00 to defray expenses.

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Where do I catch the bus and what time should I be there?

Our bus departs from 17th and K Streets, NW, at 8:00 a.m. sharp every Sunday morning, unless otherwise noted in the schedule. There are no parking restrictions on Sunday in the pickup area. You can take Metro to this pickup point (Farragut North Red line stop) in time to meet the bus. The Farragut West station (Orange/Blue lines) is only one block away.

Outings to Virginia and West Virginia will have an additional pickup in Virginia at the Vienna Orange Line Metro station (north parking area) at Nutley Street just north of Rte. I-66 at about 8:15 a.m.

Trips to Maryland and points north will have an additional pickup in Maryland at the Grosvenor Red Line Metro station at Tuckerman Lane off Rockville Pike in Bethesda (just north of the Beltway) at about 8:20 a.m.

When making a hike reservation please tell the leader where you will board the bus.

Click here for maps and directions to the pickup sites.

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Do I have to make a reservation?

Reservations are important. Hike leaders need to know that enough hikers are planning to come out to justify hiring a bus, otherwise a hike may be cancelled. Also, if you are a new hiker, you should call the leader at the phone number listed in the hike schedule both to reserve a place on the bus and to discuss the hike and your abilities. "Walk-ons" will be accepted if unreserved seats are available. Walk-ons run the risk of showing up early in the morning and being turned away because the bus is full.

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Can I make a reservation online?

We do not accept reservations through our web site. New hikers, please phone the leader at the number provided in the schedule listing to make a reservation. If you come out with us, you may provide the leader with your email address and we will send you a weekly email notice about the upcoming hike. The notice will include a link to the leaders so that you may sign up by email.

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What if I have to cancel?

If you do sign up it is a commitment to come because we'll be saving a seat for you on the bus. If you are a no show you are probably depriving someone else of a place on the hike. The empty seat means you are also depriving the club of revenue it needs to keep hiring buses for the hikes.

If you sign up but find you have to cancel, please make sure you cancel with the leader before 8:00 AM Saturday before the hike, otherwise we will list you as a no-show. We expect no shows to pay the specified bus fare either online or by sending a check to our treasurer: Vicky Hsu.

Please e-mail Vicky to arrange Payment

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What kind of footwear will I need?

Experienced hikers almost always wear well broken-in boots (see an outfitter like REI or Hudson Trails.) You can sometimes get along with running shoes, but trails can be rough and boots offer better protection. Ankle-high boots offer more protection against ankle sprains than low-tops (which, however, are worn by many hikers). Water-resistant boots (Gore-Tex®-lined) are available and may help keep your feet dry in rain and during stream crossings.

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What kind of clothing should I wear?

You should always carry rain gear--waterproof jacket or poncho--in case of showers or storms. In warm or hot weather, wicking tee shirts made of polyester are better than cotton, which may become sodden with perspiration. Many hikers wear shorts in hot weather, although long trousers offer better protection. Trousers with zip-off legs are very popular.

In cold weather dressing in layers is a good idea, which allows you to remove or add clothing as needed. Numbers and kinds of layers are a matter of individual needs which you will learn by experience.

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How much water and food should I bring?

Bring about 2 quarts (liters) of water, especially on hot days. When in doubt, bring more. Many hikers also bring sports drinks.

Pack a light lunch for the trail.

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Do I need sunscreen and insect repellent?

Always use sunscreen (at least SPF 30) on exposed areas to prevent sun burn which may be a causal factor in skin cancer.

Insect repellent is recommended to combat ticks, mosquitoes, and gnats. However, after a hike you should always inspect yourself for ticks, which may carry serious diseases.

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Do I need to be a club member to hike with the Wanderbirds?

The best thing is that you don't have to be a member of the club to hike with us! Just sign on to a hike and come out with us. If you enjoy hiking with us and want to become a member of the club, you can do so on the bus (talk to the leader). Membership is $20 per calendar year. You can also contact us and request a schedule and application form which you can mail back.

Or, you can fill in a membership form online, print it out, and either mail it to us with your check, or pay online with PayPal or a credit card and send us the form by e-mail.

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What should I know about ticks?

You can find out about ticks and the problems they present to hikers by clicking here.

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