Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Truth about Blogging

I deleted this blog's Facebook Page today. I got tired of Facebook constantly reminding me that I did not post to the page enough. Enough for their liking that is and therein lies the basis for the delete. I don't need that kind of negativity in my life. I think the truth about pages is that although FB allows pages for things other than businesses that's really why the feature exists. If you don't post enough or buy leads you aren't satisfying Facebook's budget needs so Facebook feels the need to remind you of that. Ok that sounds like a rant on Facebook. But it isn't really. I like the platform for what I like it for. It has been a great way to stay in touch with friends and family near and far; to organize hikes and other activities with friends; and to follow things I want to follow. If I don't like a feature (in this case the page feature for my blog) then I don't have to use it. So I won't.

I created the separate page for my blog so as not to bother non blog readers with my posts. However, since most of my page followers were Facebook friends (past tense because the page doesn't exist anymore not because they are no longer friends) the reason for keeping a separate page doesn't make sense.

I think I had this delusion at one point that a page for my blog would increase its readership and by association increase interaction with people of like mind. Blogging is a wonderful outlet for the introverts with extrovert tendencies of the world. Of course, that delusion WAS silly because if one does not blog regularly one cannot expect readership and interaction to increase. DUH!

I won't make a new year's resolution to blog more. I've never found resolutions to be a source of motivation for me. I enjoy blogging though so I hope that I will blog more --- or more importantly perhaps have more experience and thoughts worth blogging about as well as the time to do so.

So if you are reading this - THANK YOU - and Happy New Year!! May it be filled with all the things you love and the patience to manage the things you don't.

Keep smiling keep moving

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Springfield Trail

I first heard about this trail through a share by the Smedley Park Facebook page to the Springfield Trail page. The trail goes through Smedley Park. Information about it was sketchy at best. I finally posted to the page asking if the trail was blazed and where the best access points might be. I was told there are no official trail-heads (yet) and that the trail blazes should be yellow although someone had gone through and painted blue on top of them. A little more Internet searching found some references to the trail in various online forums. These posts were a few years old but this gave me hope that it was in fact a trail I could follow.

Whatever happened it was going to be impossible to get lost. Well (spoiler alert) it actually was easy to lose the trail but being in the middle of an urban area I was very familiar with I would not be stranded. All I had to do was walk out to the road and walk back that way.

Some Google Mapping revealed that the trail crossed Paper Mill road in Smedley Park at the Trolley parking lot (not a stop just a parking area for the park). I decided to start there. Sure enough I found the first marker right away. For reference the trolley tracks are behind me here.

I decided to go clockwise. This decision was not very scientific. It amounted to doing a 360 circle to see where I could see another marker. 

Straight ahead on the tree about equidistant between the slides and the swings. So off I went. I spent the next 45 minutes or so tracking and backtracking through the trails in Smedley Park. I had to yield to two different groups of mountain bikers who were very polite and appropriately noisy so that they wouldn't sneak up on me. I followed blue/yellow blazes as best could. They weren't very consistent. Hence the backtracking. I ended up doing more or less a very wide 180 degree circle back to my car. Not a waste of time by any means. The park's trails are fun and enjoyable.  

Not ready to give up, I pulled out a photo of a map that I downloaded from the Springfield Trail's FB page to see if I could figure out where the trail went in a counter clockwise direction. The map showed the trail hugging the trolley tracks and with that I was able to locate the trail. 

The tracks are to the right of this photo; the previous marker is to the left and behind me; and the path goes up the hill. First a blue blaze and then a yellow on. Off I went. The trail had a few more blazes here although more blue than yellow and extremely overgrown most of the way making me wonder if I had wandered off course. I knew from my photo map that I would end up crossing the tracks and 320 at some point so I forged ahead with the tracks and the sound of the 320 traffic as my secondary guides. 

Finally I came the this ..... 

At the top is route 320. The close up photo makes the climb look crazier than it was. Before ascending though I backtracked several times to see if I had missed a marker but all markers -- blue and yellow appeared to go here. To the right I could have gone under 320 --- and perhaps that's where I was supposed to go --- but the blazes stopped and the drop off to the trolley tracks deterred me from trying it. 

At the top though there was no sign of any more blazes. I walked south on 320 crossing over the trolley tracks and took the station stairs to the bottom. I knew the trail crossed the tracks so at least now I was on the proper side. But no indication where the trail would go from here. 

Up ahead along the tracks - in the direction the trail should go - I saw a road crossing. I decided to head for it and if I couldn't find the trail I'd follow the road out to Baltimore Pike and head back to my car that way. Walking along the trolley track bed is likely illegal and I was forcefully honked at by the Trolley that passed but the shoulder was wide so I was in no danger of being hurt (although I wasn't sure about being arrested). As I got closer to the road crossing I noticed a park to my right and recognized it from photos others had taken of this trail. It was Thompson Park and several accounts I read about the trail mentioned a new bridge for the trail there to  cross the creek. 

Crossing the bridge on the trail here would take me back to the Springfield Mall Trolley station. I decided to go that way so I could see where I missed and to plan on another day to start the trail from this park and try to find the trail continuing counterclockwise. The trail was brightly marked here.... 

If you are able to magnify this photo you'll see half a dozen brilliant yellow blazes showing the way between the trees. Great, except that after that they died off again. I found a few faded ones and those along with the knowledge that the trail should follow the tracks back to the station I made my way back. However, once at the tracks and the station I turned back and saw no indication that where I had come from was in fact the way to go. 

From here I walked through the Springfield Mall backside parking lot and down into Smedley Park to my car. 

All and all I spent about 2 hours wandering around. It was a nice day to be out. And except for coming out with sticker bush buds all over me -- I mean ALL OVER --- it was a fun excursion. 

Keep smiling and keep moving 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

W is For .....

Today Dave and I biked the Heritage Rail Trail  from Hanover Junction Station to the Mason Dixon Line and back. All told about 20.5 miles give or take a 1/4 mile.

The weather forecast all week called for scattered T-storms today. Last night the storms looked like they would hold off until at least 5:00 p.m. so we decided to go for it. (it's now 6 and although looking stormy it hasn't started yet) It's a two hour drive from our house to Hanover Junction Station and if you know us you know we avoided the highway as much as possible. It was a pleasant drive out.

We set off for New Freedom Station (originally this was to be our turn around spot). Hanover and New Freedom are about 8+ miles apart. Here we were able to stop for a water refill break and to tour the museum inside the station. There was even just enough sun for a shadow photo.

Along the trail were white pillars with "W" on them. At the museum I learned that W did not stand for West. I had already figured that since we were headed South. It didn't make sense that it stood for water since there were so many of them. The museum display confirmed that too. No, the W stands for Whistle. As in "It's time to blow a warning whistle for the upcoming intersection". Of course I could have just asked Dave - who knows and loves all things trains - but it was hard to talk while riding. We need some helmet walkie talkies!

After the museum break, we decided it was worth it to go the final less than two miles to the Mason Dixon Line /Maryland Border. It seemed silly not to. Our rear ends would beg to differ later but mind over matter .... ummm in this case butt.

We rode back to Hanover Junction Station and toured that museum as well before heading back (via Car) into Glen Rock to have Lunner. Dave noticed the Great American Melting Pot restaurant from the trail. We learned that they have only been open for three weeks. Here is a photo of the sign on the table. For this, I was really glad we ate there.

It says We have hired Glen Rock
residents exclusively. Many of them
are new to serving and are not  yet
fully trained!  
20+ miles was a little ambitious (his words) for Dave on his first bike trip in over a year but we survived. (PIAs not withstanding) I was excited to hear him say "When we come back to do the other half of this trail....".

The trail is also part of PA Bike Route J. We've now completed the first 10+ miles from Maryland heading north. Maybe we should set a goal to section bike the whole thing! (Evil Grin)

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

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Valley Forge National Historical Park 2-4-17

First there is Plan A, then B and C and then there is what you actually do.

Plan A was a section hike on the Horseshoe Trail - approximately 7 miles from Valley Forge to the Great Valley Nature Center. I posted the hike on Facebook on Thursday. There were a few nibbles but by 7 am on this morning I knew I was going to hike solo today. No worries. I don't mind that but without nearby public transportation or until someone perfects beaming technology (yes I do believe they are working on it) it's impossible to do a one way hike with just yourself.

As I drove to Knox Headquarter parking lot at Valley Forge I halfheartedly thought about Plan B. To go out on the Horseshoe Trail for about an hour then turn around and go back. But I really wasn't in the mood for out an back today. Plan B lasted only a few minutes in my head.

By the time I arrived at the parking lot, Plan C had taken a strong hold. I'd wander around Mount Misery and Joy. I've done a loop there many times and would take advantage of the side trails both have to offer along the way.

Shortly after 8 am I headed up the path to the Mount Joy trail but instead of going on the trail I continued to climb in search of the site of the old observation tower. I wandered up and down "Pete White" trails between the top and the "official" Mount Joy trail finally settling on wandering around the top and down the other side. I ended up at Redoubt 3. Now I was heading away from Mount Misery in the general direction of the Visitor's Center. I did not want to retrace my steps. (Remember the plan B fade away). I also couldn't spend much time on pavement because my hiking shoes are unforgiving there. So this is where Plan C officially fell apart.

I took advantage of the horse trails and made my way cross country toward the Chapel. This was not a straight line by any means. I didn't have my Garmin. The battery won't hold a charge and I really don't care much about pace or distance anymore. However, it would have been interesting to see the path I drew with my feet today.

Once at the Chapel I picked up the Chapel Trail along the railroad and river and made my way back toward Washington's Headquarters. From there I crossed 23 and took the Valley Creek Trail back to my car. All told I was out for just shy of 3 hours. I think one could easily make a day of it at Valley Forge without hitting too much pavement. That may be a challenge for another day. :)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Middle Creek Wildlife Area 1-28-17

Today I saw SNOW, worked the SPELLING BEE and went on a HIKE with nieces and nephew. How awesome is that?

The snow began as I left my house and headed to Lancaster County for the spelling bee. The snow turned to big fat flurries as I headed West.

The Spelling Bee - my 6th - was as much fun as ever. We had 13 spellers this year and it took 28 rounds to declare a winner. I managed not to stumble on any words although I took some longer pauses before a  few with three or more syllables to make sure I didn't stumble. The bee ended just before the word prestidigitation. Thank goodness! :)

After the bee we went to my brother's house for a delicious lunch, fun conversation and a new game. And then Amy, Cara, Kim, Robbie and I changed clothes and went to Middle Creek Wildlife Area for a hike. Bippy was invited to the Fulton Theater to see a play. I was super excited to hike with my nieces and nephew with the added bonus that this was a new hike location for me. And one I have wanted to visit.

Things heard on the trail today --
"I know the trail is here somewhere" (Not the thing you want to hear from your hike leader)
"I can't believe we have to walk to our walk" (dripping with sarcasm and eye roll)

It was a great day. I can't wait to hike with this gang again.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Marsh Creek State Park 1-22-17

It's still incredibly foggy outdoors. Yesterday's mist was so thick the sun could not burn it off. What follows is supposed to be high winds and heavy rain but we managed to get our hike in ahead of all that at Marsh Creek State Park today. Although still foggy it felt warmer today than yesterday.

I've not hiked here before. I know I've driven into the park once or twice and I may have even picnicked here many many moons ago but this was a new hike location. I saw a FB Post by the state park system earlier in the year encouraging folks to hike in a state park at least once a month. Given my proximity and love of Ridley Creek State Park, the adventure for me will be to find different ones. this is one. It's only a 39 (Sunday) minute drive from my house so it is a bit surprising that this is the first time.

Freya, Mike and I took the yellow trail out which heads up in the trees just past the parking lot of Dorlan Mill Road. Here is a link to the trail map.  The yellow trail meanders around the woods to the left of the dam. It was very muddy. And as the icon on the trail map suggests, it was evident this section is popular with mountain bikers. We did not meet any today. Still there were a lot of people out in with their dogs.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Pickle Prediction Event - 1-21-17

Today I did some hiking around Ridley Creek State  Park with a Pickle Prediction Event tacked on for good measure.

For the uninitiated (which is likely few who actually read this blog but I need something to write about) a prediction event is where the participants predict the time it will take to complete a stated distance. The winners are those that come closest to their predicted time. It's the perfect event for back of the packers like me because one can be slow and still bring home a prize.

Run the Day - a local event organizer has been doing winter prediction runs at Ridley Creek State Park for 10 years. The park offers the opportunity for a 3-ish road event and a 3.4-ish trail event to run simultaneously. The ish-ness makes the prediction even more fun. Although I'm sure it drives some folks nuts. I am not running much these days but I knew I could power walk 3-ish miles in the hour time limit, so I signed up. I decided to go for the 'with a shirt' entry because it was a long sleeve t-shirt and I don't have enough of those.

The event was great. I did not 'win' but I had a really nice time. Being a walker on an out and back route,  I was able to cheer on my buddies as they passed me on their return to the finish.

The fog added dramatic effect to an enjoyable event. The pickle aspect of the event is two-fold. The top five predictors on the road and trail portions each received a pickle award. A pickle (or pickle wanna-be) dressed up like people. Here is a link to their Facebook page if you wan tto see what they look like. Part two is the challenge to find pickles hidden along the route and bring them back to the finish for an additional prize. It's kinda gross but also fun.

I wanted to do more than 3 miles today so I added some hiking miles at the park as well. At first my plan was to park at the Mansion and hike the yellow trail over to the event start at Area 17 - do the event - then hike back to the mansion. It was a good plan except that the Villanova game started at noon. I've missed games before but if there was a way to do it all, why not.

So I arrived at Area 17 a little after 8 am and hiked out on the yellow trail to area 16 then picked up the white trail to return to area 17. I figured 2 miles or 40 minutes whichever came first. I hit 2 miles at 38:58 and turned around to retrace my loop. I was at my car with 30 minutes to spare on the start of the event. Just enough time to swap hiking shoes for sneakers and check in to the race.

And I made it home with enough time to shower, change and make something to eat before tip-off.

-Keep Smiling and Keep Moving

Monday, January 16, 2017

Linvil and Indian Orchard Trails 1-16-17

It was 32 at 8:15 a.m. I wore my extremely comfy green fleece. The sun was shining brightly though and about half way in I was too warm. Not warm enough to take it off but I had to unzip it. I also brought my hiking poles today. Not because I anticipated any elevation or stream crossings that might call for them but because the trail runs along private property and I recall a few dogs last time. All with friendly owners but the poles make me less afraid of strange dogs. Note: I will never use the poles against any animal or human unless I am actually being attached but if placing the pole in front of me or across by body gives me courage ....well so be it.

Here is a link to a map of the Linvill and Indian Orchard Trails.  I parked on Spring Valley Road where it meets Linvill Road (about where you see the car on the map). From there I headed more or less west toward the main Linvilla Orchard property. The trail follows the perimiter of the Linvilla Orchards property. 

I specifically wanted to see if there was a way to get from this trail to the Chester Creek Trail I was  exploring on Friday. It turns out that the trail runs right smack into the Chester Creek Trail. I took the photo below with my back to the Linvill/Stark Mill Trail. Just ahead in the photo (just before the people in the distance) is the "tree with glasses" from Friday's walk. 

There are no signs on either the paved or wooded trails indicating that this a junction point for the two. I hope the trail managers will consider doing that in the future. For now I'll tell you that the cut off from Chester Creek Trail to the Linvill/Starch Mill Trail will come up on your right just past the 3 mile marker travelling from the Knowlton Road parking lot. I did not have to cross any no trespassing signs nor did I have to 'bend' any trail directional signs to get here. It's a legal entrance/exit from one trail to the other.

Coming away from the Linvill Property just before the Chester Creek Trail the trail name changed to Starch Mill. A quick Internet search did not reveal any information on Starch Mill. I'll try again another time. I wonder what these remains have to do with it though

Back at my car I continued onto the other side of Linvill Road past Hidden Hollow Swim Club and onto the Indian Orchard Trail. The Indian Orchard area is a former Girl Scout Camp. In fact, the SE PA Girl Scout Headquarters was at the corner of 352 and Knowlton Road for quite some time. The building is a dentist office now. The trail meanders across the Crum Run: a stream that is sometimes wide and sometimes overgrown. There are many bridges which were quite slippery. Bridge freezes before road surface, right?

Based on time and the stated mileage of these two trails I estimate I covered at least 5 miles today. My Garmin is not holding a charge these days so I have to guess. I've gotten pretty good at estimating trail distances though so I think I'm fairly close.

To see more photos from today visit my blog on Facebook.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Yoga and a short run 1-15-17

Today brought bright sunshine and little or no clouds. However, after two days accumulating 10 miles walking on paved surfaces (after a month or more of almost nothing) my shins were feeling it and my mind was sluggish. So I opted for taking it slow at home this morning. 

After catching up with family and friends on Facebook with a side of coffee, I began working on writing a real estate course for work. 4 hours later (time really does fly when you like what you do) I went in search of some physical activity. 

I found a 30 minute stretching yoga video online. After that I felt energized enough to want to go for a short run. I simply added shoes, hat, gloves and a jacket to what I was already wearing and off I went. 1 mile around my neighborhood. I had to walk a little bit of it. That's where I'm at right now and I'm OK with that. 

Keep smiling and keep moving

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Valley Forge Loop 1-14-17

It was 30 degrees at 8 am today. 1 degree warmer than predicted but still significantly colder then yesterday. I had extra layers and my Dunkin' Donuts parade hat on top of ear band covering today. It's supposed to precipitate later today - maybe even snow- and I could feel it in the air.

Maggi, Russ, Julius, Jennifer, Sara, Mike and Freya and I met at the lower parking lot near the rest rooms. Mike, Freya and I headed off first. We were walking. They others passed us before we reached the Arch. It's great that we can all meet up together and then do our own thing.

I have not been to Valley Forge in a while. I must go back with Dave sometime. There are new huts, redoubts and new displays to read. I"m sure we'd enjoy the visit together - but maybe in warmer weather. Today was not a wandering around kind of day.

I think this may have been the first time I walked the loop fully intending to from the get go. It's a lot nicer when you accept your limits and just go with it instead of grumbling at yourself in your head because you thought you should be running it or running more. Still not sure I'm done running but I'm learning to be kinder to myself for not running.

Here are a photo from today. For more photos visit my blog's Facebook Page.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Chester Creek Trail 1-13-17

I had vacations days to use up so no work today. It feels like Saturday. :)

It was 49 degrees and breezy at 8 am this morning. I was glad for my hat. I was also happy to be up, dressed, coffee'd up and at the trial head by 8 am. My get up and go has been AWOL for over a month now.

The Chester Creek Trail opened in mid-December 2016. Official ribbon cutting is slated for Spring 2017. According to the website "The trail will follow Chester Creek along the Civil War-era Chester Creek Branch line of the Pennsylvania Railroad. When complete, the trail will run from the former SEPTA Wawa R3 station to Upland, PA. "  Right now about 2.8 miles between Elwyn Road and Lenni Road are open. Click here to see a map of the trail.

On this sunny Friday morning I saw several folks walking their dogs, a few running their dogs, some solo runners, some group runners, one cyclist and quite a few walkers like me. I imagine (hope) that on weekends (and evenings in spring and summer) the trail will be bustling with activity.

I parked at the Knowlton Road parking lot about 1/2 mile past Linvilla Orchards coming off 352. There was only one other car when I arrived but the lot (about 8 spaces total) was almost full when I left. I followed the trail to it's end point at Lenni Road and back for a total of 5 miles. The trail follows the creek and the line between Middletown and Aston Townships. It was a very pleasant walk. I look forward to coming back here for more walks, bike rides and maybe even a run or two.

Here is some information on the abandoned railway that serves as the basis for this trail.

Here are a few photos from today's walk.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.” 
― Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends