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