Today was a walk day. I wanted to get to 14 today. The Independence Day walk will be close to 15 and that's in two weeks. I met Sara at Pawlings Road. Candy had messaged me the night before to let me know not to wait for her she wasn't going to make it. Turns out she was double booked.
Sara and I walked the Audubon Loop together. I left Sara at the split between the loop and the SRT. She left to head to a volunteer job at the Philly Tri and I continued on. My mind was still not set on my route. I had changed it up a bunch of times last night. One of the great things about starting at Pawlings Road parking lot (PRPL) is the variety of routes you can put together. That can also be a burden when, like today, one can't make up their mind.
The real debate for me was how much I wanted to or should stay on pavement since the walk in two weeks will be all pavement. About a mile or so down the SRT from PRPL is a cut off to the River trail which runs between Betzwood and Pawlings Road. The River trail is an unpaved trail. I took about twenty steps past the cutoff and turned around to go back and take it.
I took the River Trail back out to Pawlings Road. The River Trail is one of my favorite trails. It's in bad shape right now. The harsh winter and rainy spring have left it washed out in places and littered with downed trees and debris. I was glad I wasn't trying to run it.
At the end I followed Pawlings Road, Ferry Lane and Valley Forge Road (Route 23) back to Valley Forge Park. This is not as annoying as it sounds. About 90% of tis route had nice wide shoulder to walk on.
Back at Valley Forge I stopped at Washington's Headquarters restroom to pee, wash up and empty my right shoe of some stones. WARNING: this next part may be TMI for some people. *shrug* Why is it that controlling the urge to pee is totally doable UNTIL one walks into the rest room. Then it's like a switch flips and one find oneself dancing like a two year old as one tries to free oneself from the hydration pack before sitting down. And one must remove the pack because - well mostly just because - but also because they have automatic flush toilets which ALWAYS go off before one is ready and hasn't had time to check to make sure all personal belongings are accounted for.
From Washington's HQ I decided to take the Chapel Trail back to Station Road. I could have taken paved VF Loop (Joseph Plum Trail) but I really like trails. And I have never gone end to end on the Chapel Trail (until today). I've done all of it in pieces from either end but never all the way through. Most other times I was with others and we had set mileage or time on a weeknight. Other times I was with Pete and the MLC trail runners. And well Pete rarely follows a trail from end to end. I'm not complaining. I love those adventures. Just stating the facts. Once before i set out alone to go end to end but it was during some construction at the Station Ave end and so there was a detour.
A big thank you to the mountain biker who to extra care to make sure I heard him coming up behind me on the trail.
At the end of the Chapel Trail I went up over the creepy 422 pedestrian bridge. it's been a long long time since I was over that. Didn't miss it one bit but it was the most efficient way to get to where I was going. I picked up the River Trail at Betzwood and completed a loop back to my car.
I had no idea what the mileage was on the road portion of my adventure today. So I was amazed to see 14.22 miles when I got back to the car. In the end it was probably 70/30 pavement to trail.
I think I've reached the limit of my hydration pack. The volume has held up ok to now but if it had been hotter or if I been working more hills I don't think I'd have made it. Another issue is pockets. I've rigged pockets to carry food and electrolyte tabs the last two outings but it's not enough.
For the next few outings I'll experiment with our backpack with the hydration pack inside it. With that I'll have plenty of room for extra water and food. I don't know how this will (or will not) work. It's all about trial and error right now. I don't want to buy a hiking vest or pack until I get a better feel for how much I need to carry to get through longer hikes. I could stash supplies ahead of time or travel in circuits that come back to the car frequently or plan routes with stores for supply stops but the first two ideas don't appeal to me and the last could end up being a waste of money. So for now I'll work with the backpack.
I'm working up to a 10 hour hike on the last day of DST, the last Saturday of October. Unless the backpack gets to be too much I'll work it until then at least.
Next week: Time on the Mason Dixon Trail.