* HAVE YOUR SAY: Has something ever struck you so deeply that the way you see the world is fundamentally changed? For me, that moment came when I discovered the water and rock in and around Great Falls National Park on the Potomac. I spent years living nearby but never going there, which seems unimaginable now after a season of paddling in and scrambling up and along the walls of Mather Gorge. The park and its resources, however, are not just there for the taking; they have to be cared for properly. To that end, those in charge of the park are compiling a General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (GMP/EIS) that will have a big influence on how the site is used (i.e. rock climbing, hiking and boating access) in the future. Your input is requested through the Web (send in your comments by way of www.nps.gov/grfa) and at Tuesday's meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Great Falls Grange and Old Schoolhouse at 9818 Georgetown Pike, Great Falls.
* LAND AHEAD: It is January but still this cold stretch seems unseasonable (and unreasonable). The rivers are choked with ice (you will have to slalom around the floes if you go out), the wind is an insult and it is increasingly harder not to wait it out by staying indoors and renting surfer movies. This is when peer pressure is a good thing, especially from those who take their hiking seriously. On Tuesday, the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club will host a 16-mile trek that will top out after a 4,100-feet elevation gain in the North District of the Shenandoah National Park. The route passes Neighbor Mountain and includes the Knob Mountain Trail. For more information, call trip leader Chris Nolen at 301-469-8931 (before 9:30 p.m.) or e-mail him at email@example.com. If you would like to join a less-demanding hike, visit PATC's Web site at www.patc.net.
* DREAMING WITH THE FISHES: The Seneca Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited will gather at the Galyan's store in Gaithersburg on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. for Guy Turrene's talk on trout fishing in Shenandoah National Park. The event is free and open to the public. For details, call Ron Uleck at 301-670-1899. . . .
The Northern Virginia Chapter of Trout Unlimited next will meet on Feb. 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department. The speaker will be guide-instructor Tom Brtalik; the topic will be fishing trout streams in south central Pennsylvania. Free and open to the public. Fly-tying demonstration starts at 6:45 p.m. Visit www.nvatu.org for more information.
-- John Mullen