Sunday, July 23, 2017

Three States. Two monuments. One mystery.

Today Sara and Julius and I hiked the Mason Dixon Trail from White Clay Creek Preserve to the Tri-State Marker and back. The first and last 3-ish miles meandered along White Clay Creek. The in between 4 miles weaved over and back across the PA-DE  and a little bit Maryland border.We had a good time.

During this hike we pondered such things as "Who do you call if you trip over your feet on the border between two states?" and "Why do those cornstalks have feet?"

We encountered the cornfield about a mile or so into the hike and noticed the feet on many of the stalks. Not all were intact though. A little Internet sleuthing when I got home reveals that the 'feet' are a tertiary root system called 'brace roots'. Turns out corn has two root systems normally. If the brace roots appear it likely means the main root system is dying. It's the corn's way of saving itself. At least that's what I took away from this article.

I still don't know the answer to the first question about falling but I didn't try all that had to find an answer either.

More to the point of this hike we visited the Arc Corner Monument. The monument marks the spot where the ARC boundary between PA and DE meets the straight East-West boundary. According to information found here at one time the ARC was marked by 46 stones at 1/2 mile intervals. As of 2006 (the date on this information piece) 41 of them still existed!! Finding them could make for an interesting adventure. Many are likely on private property though.

We continued on the trail in search of the Tri-State Marker. We found two markers. After I got home I did some more sleuthing to figure out why there were two markers.

Approaching more or less from the southern most entrance to the Tri-State Trail as we did, first you come to this stone. We realized though that it only had a "P" and an "M" inscribed in it and the date "1849". If this was a Tri-State Marker where was the D? We assumed at the time it was a fake out marker or a mistake of some kind. Turns out it is not. The original marker was wooden and placed by the original Mason - Dixon party in 1765. That marker was replaced with a stone marker in 1849 (the date inscribed) and only identifies PA and MD because in 1765 DE was part of PA.

The original wooden marker was a Mason - Dixon line marker noting the line between PA and MD. It is not referred to as the Tri-State marker because it does in fact mark the meeting of the three states. However, that was not it's original raison d'ĂȘtre.

I found references to the smaller marker we found just past the Dixon Marker. IN the photo you see Julius dancing around three states. But it's unclear what it is/was for. This smaller marker contains a plate on top that indicates it was placed by the US Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1935. Most references I could find to it do not make any statements as to why it's there. Yet the letters MDP on the plate led us to believe it was the 'real' marker. I'll have to do more research another time.

All in all we had a lovely stroll through White Clay Creek Preserve (in PA) and White Clay Creek State Park (in DE). With the very brief foray into Maryland the was a three state hike!

Keep smiling and Keep Moving!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Elephant on the River.

Today I took a bike ride mostly on road. I had planned to do this ride last week and then talked myself out of a road ride and headed for the Schuylkill River Trail and Perkiomen trails in the Audobon/Phoenixvill area. Although I didn't blog about last week's adventure I did have a great ride. Here's a photo.

As late as last night I was still debating a road ride today. In the end it came down to three ideas that convinced me to go for it. #1 - You won't know if you are ready until you try. Well duh, right? But sometimes one needs to smack oneself upside the head as a reminder of things. #2 - My planned route was along the East Coast Greenway. The ECG is a route designed for pedestrians and cyclists so it should be a safe assumption that the route is safe. #3 - if I got started and didn't enjoy it i could just turn around, right? Right.

I notice now that this sign doesn't say "Heinz".
You'll have to trust me. 
The ride started at Heinz Wildlife Refuge visitor center parking lot. By the time I arrived around 8ish am the lot was half full. Lots of folks where getting an early start on a day that promised heat and humidity. My plan was to follow the ECG to the Art Museum and then see how I felt before deciding to do more or turn around.

The route was well marked at every turn. I was glad to have brought my PA and DE ECG route guide as well. This told me where the turns were. There is not much signage between the turns and there were a few spots that had me checking the guide to make sure I hadn't missed something. The guide and the route did differ as I approached the Schuylkill River Trail boardwalk. The guide was written before the boardwalk (or the South Street entrance to it) was completed. I followed the signs rather than the book.

I've never been on the SRT boardwalk so turned left first to go to the end. The end is not far at all from the South Street entrance but why come all this was and not do the whole thing, right? I know some of you reading this would have been disappointed had I not turned left first. :)

The SRT was very crowded on the way to the Art Museum. Passing was a challenge. I was content to cruise along behind pedestrians and slower cyclists as I waiting for a good opening. Unfortunately there were other cyclists who were not so patient. I'm fine with them passing me -- I know I'm a conservative rider. What irked me is that they chose to pass without giving an warning that they were going to pass. Had I chosen any of those moments to make my move there would have been bodies, blood and possibly bike parts flying. I'm happy to report that I made it safely. And the irony of being concerned about the road portions of this ride has been noted.

Truth is, the road portion of this ride was easy peasy. There was one section where the bike lane was squished between a very active trolley line and the parking lane. I did find myself repeating over and over "Please don't open your car door" during that stretch.

Next stop was the Art Museum. To turn around or not. I felt pretty good so I decided to keep going. I backtracked to Martin Luther King Blvd and headed for the Falls Bridge. Despite the heat it was a great day to be out. There were lots of cyclists and runners on the road (closed to cars). I watched the Zoo Balloon go up and down a few times. There was a regatta on the river too.

As I approached the Falls Bridge I debated going across or just turning around. The Kelly Drive side is always more crowded. In the end I decided to cross the bridge and complete the loop. I'm so glad I did because if I had not I would have missed this ----

According to the signage nearby it's called "Big Bling" and it was put there in June and will sit on this spot until November. The artist is Martin Puryear. This page will give you more details about it and includes a time lapse video of its installation. The artist states that he prefers to allow folks to decide what it is. I think it looks like an elephant.

Back at the Art Museum, I sat on the step and watched tourists run up and down the "Rocky" steps while I ate very soupy trail bar. I new it would melt but it was the only thing that would fit in the small pouch of my bike hydration pouch. I will have to start wearing the backpack on these longer rides so I can pack better snacks that won't melt.

All told I rode 30 miles today. Here is a link to my route.

Keep smiling and keep moving.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Conestoga Trail; Kelly's Run Preserve to Pinnacle

Today I did the hike you see mapped here, with two exceptions. I went in the reverse direction (counterclockwise) and I went up and back on Conestoga Trail (Orange) rather than using the white Pinnacle Trail. I tried to ascend on the Pinnacle Trail but it was not well marked and there were lots of intersections. When the path was reduced to one foot in front of the other width I turned around and went back down.

Last night about 4 something a thunderstorm rolled through. It was spectacular in its pulsating lightening and odd in that it was moving East to West. When I left the house at just past 7 am the air was still thick with moisture and it smelled deliciously of spring. The smells were intensified by the recent rain - even the familiar odor of mushrooms and horses that is southern Chester County.

I arrived at Holtwood Park about 8:30. I'm thankful that you can now park there. For much of 2015-2016 the park was closed to all after it was purchased by PPL. The park is still closed but at least they allow parking to access the trail.

I had an fantastic time. I was alone in that I didn't have any regular hiking buddies with me. However, I leap-frogged a group of about a dozen "young men" who I'm guessing were 12-15. They were accompanied by two adults a man and a woman. I heard one of the them ask the woman "Did you always want to be a counselor". I'm guessing they were a church or school group. The boys were noisy but not obnoxiously so and very polite.They never treated me like the old woman that I am but as we descended a particularly rocky section of the Conestoga Trail, a few of them waited at the bottom - just barely concealing the fact that they wanted to make sure that I made it ok. At the end "our" hike several came up to me at my car to ask if I had a good day. One of them made me laugh when he argued with the counselors about going to sit in the picnic pavilion while they waited for some stragglers. "But the sign says...." (see above) He was right but there wasn't anyone around to care.

Today I felt validated in my decision to spend the extra money on collapsible trekking poles. The Conestoga Trail here is very rocky I needed both hands in some places to help me up. The poles were useless and in the way.

This does not look all that daunting in the photo but I had trouble finding good toe holds. It didn't help that the rocks were also slippery from the rain. I tried several times and just did not feel stable enough. I almost turned around and went back to my car. But I knew if I did I would be miserable. I ended up going up backwards. I felt much more secure digging my heals in and sliding up on my butt. It wasn't pretty but it got the job done. And fortunately this was one of the spots where I was alone.

The climb up was hard but the view at the top was worth it.

This was my view as I ate my lunch. The church/school group was behind me looking for snakes. I'm pleased to say they did not find any. They did find a turtle. It started to drizzle so we all started back down then.

More photos on my Facebook Page

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A Tour of Media, PA

It's been well over a month since I've had any significant walking/hiking activity. It's been a rough start to 2017 and to top it off both Dave and I got the flu crud. We are just now getting back to feeling like humans again.

Last night I got 6 hour of uninterrupted sleep - a first in over a month. My cabin fever inner 12 year old wanted to go for an all day excursion today. The adult me put a quick stop to that and I settled upon a walking tour of Media. I've lived here for 25+ years. I've been aware of the walking tour and more or less aware of many of the historic buildings in our town but I've never officially followed the tour.

The map is not drawn to scale (that's fairly obvious I suppose) and the numbered locations are not consistent. For example, number 17 and 18 are on opposite sides of the map street but are in fact on the same side of the street in real life. So one must pay attention to the narrative and use some common sense as you navigate the map. Oh and watch out for tripping hazards

The tour narrative is a bit outdated. For example, they list this as the current borough hall .

But locals know that the borough hall moved to 3rd and Jackson quite a few years ago. This building is now Spazzo's and has been at least two other restaurants in between.

For more photos visit my blog's public Facebook album

All told I was out for about and hour and a half. Allowing for photo taking and plague reading I'd say it was about 4 miles. It felt good and I made it home before the rain.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Leiper Smedley Crum Creek Trails Loop 2-5-17

Today it was slightly warmer than yesterday and there was more clouds than sun. I could feel sweat today. Yesterday it was too cold for that.

I started today at Smedley Park at the Leiper Smedley trail head. I still wasn't in an out and back mood. Honestly I rarely am. Unless my time is limited I much prefer to do loop walks or hikes. It was easy to make today's walk a loop by picking up the Crum Creek Trail for the return to Smedley Park. Click here for a Crum Creek Trail map. Page two of the pdf is the trail map. The red line shows part of the Lieper Smedley Trail. My start was off the map to the left. The yellow line is the Crum Creek Trail.

The LP part of the hike is easy to follow. It's paved all the way from Baltimore Pike to Avondale road. The CC part was more challenging since it is not blazed. I've tried the CC trail before from the Plush Mill road end and got lost shortly after the trolley tracks. I ended up on side trail and onto the Swarthmore College Campus. The entrance of the trail from Avondale road is not all that clear although I could see efforts being made to make it more clear. Trees have been planted along both sides of what should be the trail. Once you get past the apartment building on Yale Avenue it becomes more obvious on its own.

The loop is an interesting contrast of urban hiking. The LP trail follows the Blue Route and the CC trail the creek. You can hear traffic the whole way. I saw few running groups and two dog walkers along the way. These photos show the to sides of this loop.

The most annoying part of the loop is walking back up the hill on Plush Mill Road after leaving the CC trail to get back to LP to get back to the car. However, despite having no blazes anywhere between Yale Ave and Plush Mill Road there were two sets of blazes on Plush Mill road that seemed to indicate the trail continues on the other side of Plush Mill. I'm guessing it continues along the creek then under Baltimore Pike into Smedley Park. That'd be awesome if it does. I'll have to check that out another time.

Judging by time I estimate this loop was about 5 maybe 5.5 miles.

Keep Smiling and Keep Moving