Before 2011 is over, we plan to hike all fifty hikes in a book of Best Hikes around Philadelphia, which my camerado got for his birthday in October. He sees this as preparation for us hiking the Appalachian Trail. Each week he solemnly cuts the pages of the hike we've chosen from the book and slides them into the waterproof trail bags he got from the same cool friends who gave him the book.
Check out this intrepid January insect who came up from the creek to bless our venture:
We chose the Wissahickon creek for our first hike because it is the sacred spine of romantic Philadelphia outdoorsiness, beloved by centuries of writers, and particularly significant to the Philadelphia Gothic tradition--and also so we could meet our friend the Duchess for breakfast at Cafette in nearby Chestnut Hill. Reader, that Cafette breakfast powered me through a five hour hike, and I only had to break out the dark chocolate toward the end.
(The Duchess had some funny family stories to tell from the holidays.)
Highlights of the hike were:
- Groves of beech trees--these guys hold their leaves through the winter (seen above) to protect new leaf buds. The color is indescribable.
- Getting off Forbidden Drive and up onto the slopes above the creek. (Normally we would just stick to Forbidden Drive, which hugs the creek, and is plenty beautiful, but well-traveled, and less of an adventure).
- Seeing this guy up close:
This chief is looking westward, where the Lenape (except for the ones who went underground) were forcibly relocated, by intimidation and fraud. I'm used to seeing him from the bottom of the gorge. Not sure if interesting is the best word, but it's interesting how romantic nostalgia for the local Indians followed so fast on the extirpation of the local Indians.
Lowlights of the hike were:
- A grove of rare Umbrella Magnolias the book promised, which sounded fabulously exotic and Dr. Suess-y, but were in the end, merely rare and looking somewhat stranded in the understory.
- Running out of daylight: Future winter hikes will be shorter, and certain people who get carried away with the photo-snapping (me) will have to martial their time better.
Exhausted, and, er, dehydrated... because we didn't bring water... we finished our adventure at Earth Bread Brewery in Mt. Airy, and had the white pizza, and rocher for a much-deserved dessert, and my amigo thought the house draft was outstanding.
UPDATE 4-17-11: See that picture I ended this post with? We thought the winged bark was so cool, and wondered what this shrub was--we learned it's burning bush--an invasive that's crowding out native understory plants.