Thursday, January 2, 2014

French Creek Trail, New Year's Day Hike 2014

The year 2014 saw me at work. Literally, I was at my 'day' job on a 14 hour shift that didn't end until nearly 4 AM. Add to that my hurting my back on Monday morning, and you can understand why my efforts at starting the New Year outside were limited in scope. A climb up Mount Misery, or any mount, was out of the question. I slept too late to make the Polar Bear Plunge at Riverfront Park in Pottstown, and besides I was unsure what plunging into the Schuylkill River in January would do to my pulled muscles. So when my friend Chris showed up for a hike we headed to a flat and easy French Creek Trail.

The French Creek Trail in East Pikeland Township, Chester County, is a work in progress. The long term goal is for the trail to run from outside Phoenixville to French Creek State Park, more or less following the waterway its named for. At the moment it consists of a quarter mile segment off Hare's Hill Road and a longer, partly paved stretch on Rapp's Dam Road. There are parking lots on either side of the road at the south side of Rapp's Bridge, a covered span built in 1866 and reconstructed in 2011. In the Colonial era the creek ford was the home to a small village and a powder and gun works that supplied the Continental Army for a few months, and the area around the bridge is groomed as a public park with historical markers.

Chris brought his usual good humor and absurd dress code to the hike, and we had a good time despite my mild back pain and lack of sleep. The paved trail is barely a quarter mile at this point; I don't know if plans are to expand it. The pavement ends at a pedestrian bridge over French Creek and continues as a flat dirt and grass trail until it ends on private property. At some point it will continue, cross the creek again, and connect to the Hare's Hill Road segment. Meanwhile we enjoyed two miles of walking and wishing Happy New Year to other trail users. The trail surface was hard and marked with patches of ice, but navigating them wasn't difficult.

Despite the short distance, I was fatigued, and nearly dozed off over the post hike meal of pork and sauerkraut at a local diner. Still, I was glad to have been outside and alive, even if I didn't feel lively.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

"The Muck", State Game Lands 313, Wellsboro Junction, PA, October 2013

My fall on a trail in the Catskills along with the long drive into Tioga County sapped my energy levels for the remainder of my October vacation, and I wound up doing very short trails. Fatigue drained me and a stiff back limited my movement. But short trails can be rewarding, and my condition didn't keep me from one of my favorite. I went to play in the muck. 
"The Muck" is a short trail to a blind in the middle of State Game Lands 313,  on Dresser Road off Route 287 in Wellsboro Junction. The trailhead parking leads to a gravel trail and boardwalk. The trail is only a hundred yards or so long, and leads to a large blind in the middle of the wetlands. SGL 313 is on a major flyway and birders come from all over to observe; while there was no one there when I arrived, earlier that day a family from Baltimore had visited. I spent twenty minutes in the blind, sitting on the benches staring out the windows at the surrounding wetlands and mountains, and at a passing canoe. The light was perfect for photography, and the ledges on the windows made great platforms for the camera. I'm in love with Tioga County, and The Muck is one reason why. Once again I'm running out of words, and so I'll let the photos do the talking for the rest of this post. If you want more information on The Muck, the Tiadaghton Audubon Society web page is as good a source as you can get:

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A Taste For The Woods: 2013-12-29

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A Taste For The Woods