Sunday, September 26, 2010
I arrived at the predetermined meeting spot, the Superior Hiking Trail trail-head on the Caribou Trail at 9 am like we had arranged, but the girls were not there yet. I decided to take the opportunity to hike up to White Sky Rocks while I waited. It was a good decision. The view from the overlook was spectacular and the colors looked to be at peak.
The trail-head parking lot there was packed. It looked like everyone and their mother decided to go for a hike today to see the fall colors. After a short time on the Oberg Mountain trail it became obvious why. The colors were indeed spectacular! There are several different overlooks off the sides of the mountain and each one offered great views of maples in their full splendor. The overlooks also offered views of Lake Superior, rock outcroppings and small lakes.
From Oberg, I passed through the parking lot again and followed the Superior Hiking Trail to the Onion River. Shortly after crossing the Onion River on a footbridge, I took the side trail up Leveaux Mountain. The trail here was much less crowded than the one on Oberg Mountain. I probably saw 1/10 of the people I saw while on Oberg. Still, the views were great!
Saturday, September 25, 2010
When I arrived at the trail-head I immediately noticed the effects of the previous days rain. Parts of the trail were more like small streams. I didn't care though. In fact, I had expected to walk in some water given the amount of rain we received. Within about 3 minutes of hiking I came to the first of the four lakes I would visit: Clay Lake.
It was a pleasant spot, but close to the road and the noise associated with vehicle traffic, and so I moved on after a short stop.
The hiking was, besides wet, easy due to the fact that the trail followed an old logging railroad grade called the Anderson Grade. My next stop was the pretty Bufo Lake. A spur trail led down to this lake which looked as if it may have been deeper at one time.
Still, it was an enjoyable place to stop and eat lunch. From Bufo Lake I headed deeper into the wilderness to a junction with the North Country National Scenic Trail. I made a right turn onto the North Country Trail and waded through some deep puddles, eventually making my way to the wilderness' namesake: Rainbow Lake.
Rainbow was another pretty lake with a nice campsite located near its shore. I spent some time looking around the area a bit before retracing my steps back to the intersection of the North Country Trail and Anderson Grade.
At the intersection I got back on the Anderson Grade on a portion that I had not hiked on previously. This section of the grade gets considerably less maintenance and I almost considered turning around and heading back to the car. I'm glad I didn't though. While the hiking was difficult and more like bushwacking at times, I was rewarded with a visit to the prettiest of the lakes on my hike: Anderson Lake.
I relaxed at Anderson Lake for a bit and took some photographs before heading back to the Anderson Grade and returning to the car. A great day of hiking despite the soggy trails.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
What an awesome day for a road race! Thanks to my brother Nick and his girlfriend Katie I was able to stay close to the race start last night. This meant no driving and looking for a parking spot and no getting up really early to take SEPTA into the city. I awoke at around 6:15 and ate a breakfast of two bananas and a package of GU chomps. Then it was a short walk with Katie to the starting line at 22nd and the Parkway.
There was a large field for the race and it was amazing to see the sea of humanity converging on the Ben Franklin Parkway. I quickly found corral #4, stretched a bit, and waited for the start. I was excited as this would be my first race in Philadelphia since my high school cross-country days at Belmont Plateau. It would also be my first road race in Philly!
Surprisingly, I was not very nervous for the start of the race. Having never run a half-marathon before I had no idea what to expect as far as a finishing time. I had entered my expected finish time as 1:40:00 but thought that I had an outside chance at breaking 1:30:00. When it was time for my corral to start I felt really good. I went out at an easy pace and quickly started to pass other runners. Why do people always get too far up at the starting line of a race? The first 5k went really well and I was surprised to see that despite how good I felt, my 5k time was similar to the time I ran in the Fitger's 5k this past spring! Believe it or not my second 5k went even faster. Wow, I really felt strong.
I just glided along the course, slowly reeling in other runners and felt really awesome until mile 12. Finally I started to feel like I had run most of my 13.1 miles. Despite being tired at the end I still a bit of kick left in me and ran hard the last quarter mile. It didn't hurt that I saw on my watch I was on pace to break 1:30:00! When I crossed the finish line my watch read 1: 29:27 and when the official results were posted I had run 1:29:26. I was really proud of myself. I feel that this was the best race I've ever run and I don't think I will ever run another race as well as this one!
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Among the species that were discovered by John Bartram is the Franklinia, a leafy shrub in the tea family that was discovered growing near the Altamaha River in Georgia in 1765. It is named in honor of Benjamin Franklin. Bartram collected some seeds upon discovery and shipped them to Philadelphia. Today there are no known Franklinias growing in the wild. The last record of a wild Franklinia was in the 1830s. Therefore all known Franklinas growing today are descendants of the plants that were grown at Bartram's Gardens. It was a thrill to see the Franklinias growing there, though I was a bit disappointed that they were not in bloom.
|Eric and Franklinia|
John's son William is also well known as one of America's first naturalists. The house that John built beginning in 1728 is a highlight of the site. It's architecture is impressive and we were able to see the inside on a guided tour. its great to see it so well preserved. Its preservation is in a great respect due to the efforts of Andrew M. Eastwick who purchased the site in the 1850s.
Friday, September 17, 2010
My next stop was the interesting Fairmount Waterworks Interpretive Center. I'd been to the waterworks before, but it was really interesting to learn about the history of America's first municipal water system and how it was developed. Also interesting was an exhibit about the fish ladder that allows shad and other fish upstream access from the dam built across the Schuylkill River. There is a camera there that records the animals that swim through and among the more interesting ones that have been caught on video are a river otter and northern water snake.
From the waterworks, I decided to head up along the Schuylkill on Kelly Drive and check Fairmount Park and some of the many interesting sculptures that line the river. I also wanted to get a feel for the Philly Rock N Roll Half-Marathon course, since the race followed Kelly Drive across the Falls Bridge and then up West River Drive. The sculptures were very impressive. It's really amazing how when you live someplace, you really take what you have for granted. This is certainly the case with me and Philadelphia. Among the sculptures I perused were Fredrick Remington's Cowboy and Stone Age in America by John J. Boyle.
|Stone Age in America|
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Duluth is a city that financier Jay Cooke really seemed to take a liking to. Cooke influenced the Northern Pacific Railway, which he heavily financed, to run through Duluth so that he could help build it into the "new Chicago". He planned on Duluth becoming a major shipping point for rail and boat traffic. While Duluth's success never mirrored that of Chicago, Cooke's influence on the city can be felt even to this day. There is a nice statue of Jay Cooke located near the Lake Superior lakefront and a nearby state park (which happens to be a really great one) is named in his honor as it encompasses land that was owned by Cooke and donated by his descendents.
Upon reading about Jay Cooke during one of my visits to Jay Cooke State Park, I learned that he had spent a good deal of his life living not too far from where I grew up, on his Ogontz estate. While the estate no longer exists today, I learned that Jay Cooke is buried in Saint Paul's Episcopal Church in Elkins Park, a church that he helped to fund the construction of. I decided to spend one of my days staying at my parents' house to visit Jay Cooke's grave and some other interesting local historical sites.
|Beth Shalom synagogue|
|Richard Wall House|
From the Cooke grave site I headed east on Ashbourne Road with my intended destination being Lynnewood Hall. On the way to Lynnewood Hall however, I made two unexpected discoveries. The first discovery was a small family cemetery containing the graves of members of the Shoemaker family. The Shoemakers were instrumental in the early development of Cheltenham Township and built a mill on Tookany Creek near the Wall House.
|Old headstone from Shoemaker Burial Ground dating to 1741|
|The Elkins Estate|
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
The walk across the bridge was quite pleasant and offered many great views of the Philadelphia skyline.
When I got to the other side of the bridge I walked around Camden, New Jersey a bit and then walked back across the bridge and returned to Philly.
Once back in the City of Brotherly Love I walked down Elfreth's Alley.
After visiting the burial ground it was time for my tour of the Todd and White homes. They were interesting and showed how people of different socio-economic classes lived around the time of the American Revolution. After the tour it was time for some beer. I walked over to Penn's Landing and up Columbus Boulevard to Yard's Brewery. I tried a sampler of some really good beers before walking to Suburban Station for the train ride home.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Today ny mother and I made the drive west to Hopewell Furncae National Historic Site outside of Elverson, Pennsylvania. The drive was a bit longer than I remembered and it didn't help that there was a major detour due to some road construction. When we arrived we discovered that the visitor center and buildings were closed, but we were still able to walk around the site.
We also visited the Bethesda Church site which I had never been to before. There was an interesting cemetery there. Many of the interred were members of the Lloyd family and some of the graves were quite old.
Monday, September 13, 2010
This morning my brother Kris and I drove the Pennsylvania Turnpike west to I-176 and into the hamlet of Hamburg, Pennsylvania for a loop hike at the Pinnacle on a section of the Appalachian Trail. It was my fourth visit at the Pinnacle and I have to admit that this is my favorite section of the A.T. in Pennsylvania.
The hike started out pretty easy with a nice smooth, level trail.
We spotted several red efts on the shady, moist trail and stopped at the Windsor Furnace Shelter for an early break.