It was 90 and humid on for the Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment Hike & Happy Hour on Saturday, but the hike around Roosevelt Island was the coolest part of my day.
Why? Unlike the steamy walk to Metro and walk from Rosslyn to Roosevelt, the hike around the island was mostly in the shade.
I say mostly because the tree canopy is being slowly destroyed by invasive plants. As Arlington County Invasive Plant Program Manager Jan Ferrigan explained, invasive vines like English Ivy choke native trees. Once they die and fall, invasives like Japanese Honeysuckle cover the ground and prevent new trees from being able to push skyward. And new research shows another invasive, Garlic Mustard, releases a chemical into the soil that discourages new tree growth.
Ironically, a native species may be helping Garlic Mustard take hold. We spotted several deer during the hike, some right on the trail. Jan told us there are at least 20 on the island. The deer eat native plants but not Garlic Mustard, giving the invasive a leg up.
Once the hike wrapped up, we headed over to Continental in Rosslyn for the happy hour end of the event. It was great to hear how much environmentalism has become a part of people's lives, with discussions of everything from organic beer to President Bush's lack of leadership on global warming to compact fluorescent light bulbs.
We had a good time despite some surprisingly hostile treatment from the staff of Continental. The bar had donated pool table time for each of the previous three ACE Hike & Happy Hours, but this year the event manager told us (and I am not making this up) there is no profit to be made by giving things away. Even though the bar was nearly empty when we arrived, the manager yelled at us for setting out some green products on our table. The bartender refused our request to put the Red Sox-Yankees game on TV because he was watching ultimate fighting. And the waitress refused our request for a refill of tortilla chips, informing us that even though we ran up a $200 tab, "they're not bottomless chips." We'll definitely be looking for a new host for next year.
Despite the deer and the dopes, we had a great time celebrating National Trails Day with hiking and happy houring. Hope to see you on the trail and at the bar next year!