Birthday Hike at Binky Lee

Smile, it's Friday!

Smile, it’s Friday!

A few weeks ago Matt and I took Piper hiking at Binky Lee Preserve in Chester Springs, PA. It was my birthday so Matt was extra patient when I stopped to take dozens of photos of fall foliage, grasses, and (of course) Piper. Piper was less tolerant of these numerous delays – she prefers to be moving full speed ahead at all times – but I was still able to capture a few shots of her against the gorgeous fall landscape.

Here are some photos from our hike. This really is what Southeastern Pennsylvania looks like in the fall. Isn’t it pretty??!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, this is what a German Shorthaired Pointer with a mouthful of water looks like! I think she was trying to bring some of the creek along for the rest of the hike. 😄

389 mouth fulla water

If you find yourself in northeastern Chester County looking for a place to hike I’d definitely recommend visiting Binky Lee. For more information check out the links below. Happy Friday!

Binky Lee Preserve
1445 Pikeland Road
Chester Spring, PA 19425
Web Site  |  Trail Map  |  Google Maps

455 Piper in fall

The Hunting Camp, 2015 Edition

912 Piper on the ATV

Last weekend Matt, Piper and I took a mini vacation in the central Pennsylvania wilderness. We stayed at Globe Run Rod and Gun Club – fondly referred to in my family as simply “The Hunting Camp” – for our seventh year of outdoor fun. 😄

I’ve blogged about our Hunting Camp adventures in previous years so feel free to check those posts out for more background (2013, 2014). For this year’s recap, I’m going to summarize the Hunting Camp in “Five Things Friday” style.

Five Things we enjoyed at the Hunting Camp in 2015

1. SWIMMING

Matt and I were excited to discover that Piper LOVES water!! She paddled around the lake with my brother’s German Shepherd, Lady, and even swam WAY out into the lake with Hershey to flush a flock of geese. (I don’t think Piper knew what was going on until the geese actually took off!)

I’m not a fan of swimming in “dark water” but it sure was fun to watch Piper take the plunge!

2. BOURBON

I don’t know anything about bourbon so for fun we had a bourbon tasting on Friday night. Our family members each brought various bourbons (we ended up with 11 bottles!) and it was fun to try them all. The verdict? Basil Hayden was my favorite (probably because it had the lowest alcohol content), but ultimately I think I’ll take a glass of wine over a bourbon any day!

3. HIKING

There are miles of wooded trails at the Hunting Camp and the adjacent Rothrock State Forest. Every day we took at least one hike with the dogs and on Saturday morning I ventured out on a solo 6 mile run in the state forest. My brother saw a black bear at camp just before Matt and I arrived on Thursday, so naturally I spent the whole run worrying about what I would do if a bear appeared around the next bend. (Run the other way? Make a lot of noise??) Luckily the largest animal I saw on my run was a squirrel so I was OK.

4. FOOD

Matt and I were in charge of dinner on Friday night and we had fun with it. We made BBQ baby-back ribs, panzanella, potato salad, cornbread, and strawberry-rhubarb crisp. YUM! The other days we feasted on sausages, burgers, hot dogs, shepherd’s pie, and lots of chips and guacamole. Good thing we did so much hiking! 😃

5. RELAXING

One of the best activities at the hunting camp involves no activity at all.  The huge rocking chair-lined wraparound porch is the perfect spot to relax with a book (or Kindle or iPad). The porch is also a great place to watch the dogs (all four of them!) who spent hours in the yard wrestling, playing chase, and chewing on sticks. By Saturday afternoon the dogs were exhausted!!

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After three days of fun we drove home late Saturday night with a very tired, very happy Piper.  We all had a great time and can’t wait until next year!

367 Piper in a clearing copy

 

Ridley Creek State Park Orange Trail

As I type this it is 67 degrees outside… easily the warmest day of the year!  I’m about to go on a nice, long run and I’m definitely looking forward to running in a t-shirt!!!

Before I embark on my run I want to share some photos from a hike that Matt, Piper and I took last weekend.  We explored out a different part of Ridley Creek State Park on Sunday and it was beautiful!

Ridley Creek

We typically stay on the west side of Ridley Creek but on Sunday we ventured eastward to the park’s Orange Trail.  This single track path follows the eastern bank of the creek before looping back through a hilly forest.  The trail is well marked with orange blazes and the entire lasso-shaped loop was about 2.35 miles long.

Oddly, the official DCNR map shows a shorter orange loop than what was marked in the woods, so I overlaid the outline of our actual hike on the above map.

Oddly, the official DCNR map shows a shorter orange loop than what was marked in the woods, so I overlaid the outline of our actual hike on the above map.

Piper had a blast, as usual.  She is getting very comfortable climbing on boulders, logs, dirt piles and anything else we find in the woods.  She also really wants to go in the water but it’s still pretty cold out so we still haven’t really let her get more than her paws wet.  I can’t wait for warmer weather!!

All in all this was a pleasant little hike with great views of the creek.  I’ll definitely return to the Orange Trail, maybe for a run or a summer picnic by the water.  Piper still doesn’t even know that summer exists, but soon enough she’ll see what I keep raving about! 😀

What are you looking at?

“‘Summer?’ I’ll believe it when I see it!”

Ridley Creek State Park
351 Gradyville Road
Newtown Square, PA 19073

Okehocking Preserve

Piper and her reflection in Ridley Creek

Merry Christmas Eve!  Matt and I are hosting dinner tonight… bone-in short ribs over polenta with brussel sprouts braised in cream.  YUM!!  The food is prepped, the house is clean, I got in a nice 4 mile run in the rain and now I’m just waiting for family to arrive.  I thought I’d take advantage of this lull in the day to share some photos from one of our hikes last week.

2834 Piper at Okehocking

Matt and I are fortunate to live very close to Okehocking Preserve, a 180-acre conservation area with miles of trails, a scenic section of Ridley Creek and an off-leash, unfenced dog park.  We’ve been taking Piper to Okehocking a lot lately, in part to socialize her but also because the preserve’s close proximity to our house allows us to squeeze in the maximum amount of outdoor time before the sun goes down.  (Hooray for the shortest day of the year being BEHIND us now!!)

So far Piper has really taken to Okehocking.  She sniffs and snorts around in the tall grass, has fun climbing on rocks, walls, and fallen trees, wades into (and tries to drink all of) Ridley Creek and, of course, has a blast playing with other dogs in the off-leash area.  I’m sure we’ll be spending many, many afternoons at Okehocking over the next several months.  If you’re from the area I would definitely recommend visiting Okehocking… maybe we’ll see you there!

2794 Piper drinking

Okehocking Preserve
5316 West Chester Pike
Newtown Square, PA 19073
Preserve Map | Web Site
My Okehocking post from 2012

Piper goes Viral after hiking Crum Woods

Holy Cow.  This photo of Piper has received over 23,000 views on Flickr since yesterday morning:

Piper's Famous Photo

I wonder… does having 23,000 views qualify as “going viral”?  It is certainly the most buzz any content that I’ve ever created has garnered in a short period of time!  To her credit, Piper is pretty freakin’ adorable in this photo so I don’t blame those 23,000 people for clicking on her photo.  😉  The full resolution image can be viewed here if you’re interested in seeing it in all its viral glory on Flickr.

~~

Anyway… I took The Photo while hiking with Pipe and Matt in Crum Woods.  This 220-acre woodland is situated on the western edge of Swarthmore College’s campus in Delaware County, PA.  It features 3.5 miles of hiking trails, fantastic views of Crum Creek, and a giant railroad bridge that carries Septa’s Media/Elwyn line over the creek.

To access the Crum Woods trail we parked on the western (opposite) side of Crum Creek at the Leiper-Smedley trail parking lot off of Avondale Road and walked down Avondale to Yale Ave.  The trails in this southern section of Crum Woods were dotted with tree roots and sloped steeply down to the creek, but the path evened out to a nice walking trail once we made it north of the trailhead by the Swarthmore College fieldhouse.

I love train tracks and bridges, so it’s no surprise that my favorite part of Crum Woods was where the Septa rail line crossed Crum Creek.  Just before reaching the bridge the trail emerged out of the woods into “Crum Meadow,” where Piper licked her first frozen puddle and we had great views of the trestles crossing the creek.  The view from under the bridge was even more impressive and I may have made Matt and Piper wait around for 5-10 minutes just in case a train came along while we were under it.  (Sadly, we did not see a train.)

Leiper-Smedley Trail

After reaching the northern terminus of Crum Woods, we decided to make the hike more interesting by looping back to our car via the paved Leiper-Smedley trail on the other side of the creek.  Unfortunately Crum Woods and Leiper-Smedley are not officially connected on the northern end, so in order to access L-S we had to jog a short stretch of Plush Mill Road and skirt along the shoulder until we reached the trailhead.  We were lucky that Piper was still small enough for Matt to easily carry her during this stretch… this impromptu trail connection would not have been ideal if we had had a larger dog or small children in tow.

Our return trip along the Leiper-Smedley Trail was uneventful and mostly downhill, woohoo!  I’ve run on this trail several times, most recently going UP the trail in the other direction at the Fueled Up and Fired Up 5K in September.  The trail is well marked and has a much less exciting train bridge on it than Crum Woods… but it’s a train bridge nonetheless, so of course I took a picture!!

I definitely enjoyed our Crum Woods hike because I had never been to Crum Woods before, but overall it was a bit of a choppy walk and there are probably better hiking loops in the area.  The southern portion of the trail was a little treacherous and the northern end didn’t technically connect to Leiper-Smedley, but with good hiking shoes and a quick jog up Plush Mill Road we made it work.  Plus, Piper thoroughly enjoyed herself and was very tired afterwards… Mission Accomplished!!!

Piper having fun on the hike

Useful Links:
Crum Woods Web Site
Official Crum Woods Trail Map & Brochure (PDF)
High-res version of Crum Woods Map with our 4 mile hike overlayed (JPG)

Piper visits Newlin Grist Mill

Regal Piper Pup

As you might expect, Piper’s arrival has had a big impact on our daily routine.  Matt and I are waking up earlier on work days, stopping home 2-3 times to let her out during the day, and (still!) taking turns setting an alarm for a middle-of-the-night potty break.  We are also making sure to do at least one mentally and/or physically stimulating activity with Piper every day to tire her out.  On weekdays it’s practically dark when we get home from work which limits us to activities around the house like wobble-disc practice in the kitchen or epic games of fetch in the back yard. (Fetch is, of course, frequently interrupted when Piper gets distracted and tries to eat deer poop, but I digress!)  Weekends, however, are a whole different story… daylight means that we can go hiking!

Hike hike hike

Since Piper is still very young, meandering hikes in the woods are a great way to tire her out without causing too much stress on her joints.  To keep things interesting, we’ve been visiting a different local park or trail each weekend.  This has been a fun way to re-explore some of our old favorite hiking spots that I’ve been meaning to blog about for a while.  One such local gem is Newlin Grist Mill.

Newlin Grist Mill is a 160 acre park and historical site in Glen Mills, PA.  You can read more about the park’s history, working grist mill and educational programs on their web site.  I’m sure that all of that historical stuff is cool (convincing plug, right?) but WE visit the park for its miles of secluded nature trails that wind along an abandoned rail line and a beautiful stream.  Here are some photos from our hike a few weekends ago…

Newlin Grist Mill’s trails are well maintained and clearly marked, but I have not been able to find an actual detailed trail map of the park.  There’s a basic map at the parking lot showing park boundaries and general right-of-ways, but it’s missing most of the side trails that we actually hiked on.  Luckily, the park is relatively small and most of the major trails tend to be oriented east-west along the old rail line and stream.  This makes it hard to get lost and fun to explore… perfect for hiking with a 10-week-old puppy!

Oh Hi!

If you’re in the western Philadelphia suburbs and are looking for a low-key, relaxed hike with lots of stream views and history, I’d definitely recommend spending an afternoon at Newlin Grist Mill!

Newlin Grist Mill
219 South Cheyney Road
Glen Mills, PA 19342  (map)
www.newlingristmill.org

Cam’s “Moonlight” 5K… in a Thunderstorm!!

Last night I ran Cam’s Moonlight 5K in Exton, PA.  With a 9PM start time, this was my first night race and, with a violent thunderstorm going on during the race, this was also my first race in torrential rain and lightning!  It was a unique experience to say the least.

I arrived at the corporate center where the race was being held at around 8:30pm to pick up my bib.  Although there were storms far to the southwest, the radar overhead was absolutely clear at this point.  I could see some ominous storm clouds on the horizon and it was just starting to drizzle ever so lightly, but I figured this was a passing shower at worst and kept my iPhone and headphones with me as I lined up with the 500 or so runners and walkers for the start of the race.

The start was really disorganized.  I didn’t see a start line and didn’t know which direction we would be running but realized that I was WAY in the back of the crowd when suddenly the pack started off at a jog ahead of me.  After my crowded-start experience at the Media 5 Miler, I was frustrated at the prospect of starting from the extreme rear and I quickly began weaving my way through the slow moving crowd to get into a better position.  After about 0.2 miles of dodging and weaving the crowd suddenly stopped (reminiscent of the doomed Color Out Cancer 5K race earlier this year!), and that’s when I realized that we had all been running TO GET TO the start line.  Crazy!

By the time the race really started from the actual start line, the skies were dark and the rain was falling steadily.  I was significantly closer to the front of the pack and after the real “GO” I set out on the course, happy to get a do-over on my start and ready to put down a good time in my first 5K road race since the Run for Victory.  About a minute into the race the clouds opened up and the torrential rain began.  Bolts of lightning lit up the pitch black sky and the edges of the smooth corporate center roads immediately turned into mini rivers of water rushing towards the nearest storm drain.  It was raining so hard that my headphones stopped working (they got quieter and quieter before dying completely at around 1.5 miles in) and I was taking in so much rainwater with each breath that I found myself consciously working to spit water out of my mouth every time I exhaled.  It was wild!!

If this race had been scheduled for 9:10PM instead of 9, I firmly believe that the race organizers would have cancelled it on the spot, but because the runners had just been released onto the course just as the storm hit it was too late to stop the race.  Luckily, the course was VERY well marked with glow sticks and dozens of volunteers who braved the storm to hold their positions at the various intersections we crossed.  (Thank you, volunteers!!)  Despite the excellent course marking, I quickly discovered that the darkness, rain, and monotony of the corporate center’s identical roads made it extremely difficult to get a feel for where I was on course.  When I hit the 1st mile split I tried to make a mental note of where I was, but by the second lap around the corporate center my headphones were dead and I had no idea if I was 1 mile or .25 miles from the finish.

Cam's Moonlight 5k Runkeeper

After what felt like an eternity of slogging through puddles and spitting out rain water, the finish finally came into sight.  I was thrilled to see that the race clock was still in the sub-25 range and I thankfully crossed the finish line at around the 24:46 mark.  Woohoo!!  A man at the finish line was yelling “RUNNERS, DO NOT STOP!! GO STRAIGHT TO YOUR CARS!!!!” so I got my bearings and marched right to my car, where I promptly soaked the driver’s seat and took this photo.  What a race!

Soaking Wet after the Cam 5K

Matt had driven separately from a lacrosse game to watch the race (he ended up staying in the car!) and he followed me home along Route 30 as the torrential rain continued.  It was raining so hard I could barely see the road and at one point I drove through what Matt said was about 8″ of rushing water.  I could feel the current start to push the car to the left so I stepped on the gas… scary!  (And yes, I know you should never drive across a flooded road, but it was raining so hard I couldn’t even see the river… whoops!)  Long story short, we made it home safe and sound and I was very thankful for dry clothes and a warm bed.

This morning I found myself constantly refreshing the RunCCRS web site, eagerly waiting to see my final time and finish position.  Sadly, I got an email after lunch saying that the extensive rains caused the chip timing system to malfunction and no results would be provided. Boo.  😦  At least I paid attention to the timing clock as I crossed the finish line so I know my approximately time AND, most importantly, I ran another sub-25 5K!!!!  Forget the rain, lightning, no results, and everything else… I did it again!  Yay!!!  🙂

 

Miles since last post:  93.5
Days since last post:  18
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.81
2014 TOTAL MILES: 916.3

P.S. For anyone wondering what happened to the Swarthmore 5 Miler (7/3/14) and the Firecracker 5K (7/4/14) races that I was supposed to run over the holiday weekend…  BOTH got postponed due to storms (that, by the way, were far less severe than last night’s!).  I missed the make-up date for the Firecracker 5K but I’ll be running the Swat 5 Miler next Friday.

Related Posts:
•  Media 5 Miler (6/20/14)
•  Radnor Conservancy 5K Trail Run (6/1/14)
•  Rocky Run 5K Trail Run (5/30/14)
•  Run for Victory 5K (5/18/14)
•  Elwyn 5K (5/3/14)
•  St. Tim’s 5K (4/26/14)
•  Rick’s Run 5K (4/19/14)
•  Las Vegas Security 5K (4/3/14)
•  Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler (3/1/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4/14)
•  New Year’s Eve 5K at the YMCA (12/31/13)
•  Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14/13)
•  Turkey Trot 5K (11/28/13)
•  Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2/13)
•  Oy Vey 5K (10/27/13)
•  Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19/13)
•  Run-A-Muck 5K (9/22/13)
•  The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)