Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hemlock Point Trail - Green Lane Park

So we've been back hiking, at least monthly, for a few months now. I, however, have not been great about remembering or finding the time to update the blog. I'm hoping that Z, A, R, and I will also manage to get out once a week for a hike very soon. Although I still haven't figured out what to do with A if she poops out and wants to be carried. Thankfully, I had some help this hike since that did happen. A very gracious papa carried R so I could carry her.

This month we went back to an old favorite that has changed quite a bit - the Hemlock Point Trail at Green Lane Park in Montgomery County. The trail has changed because part of it is now the connection between the trails at Green Lane and the Perkiomen Trail. While much of Green Lane is used by horse back riders, the main part of the Hemlock Point Trail is off limits to horses and bikes.
We had a nice leisurely hike with lots of stick and rock collecting. The rocks were tossed into the water at one point. Z and A visited the blast off tree that we found two years ago while hiking with daddy on the trail. There was a salamander, a few worms, and we spied a couple of cormorants down near the damn. The children made a good (pretend) campfire and we even had a few marshmallow roasters. All in all it was a good day.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Nature Center at Peace Valley Park

Last month we met at Ringing Rocks but someone forgot her camera so on our first documented hike after our break we had a delightful hike at the Peace Valley Park Nature Center. Frogs, worms, and a rocketship tree were just a few of the highlights of our adventures.Z, A, R, and I hadn't managed to make it to the park before last weekend to explore the trails so we just followed the children's lead (most of the time) and wandered through the woods in search of the Pooh Tree. Along the way we encountered some deer, a pond full of frogs, one frog in particular who probaby wished he was a little faster, lots of worms, raspberries, wineberries, and lots of beautiful sights.
When we arrived at the Pooh Tree, the children immediately decided it was a rocketship and were searching for the button to make it blast off. Since it was a very hot day and there was a nice breeze, a bench, and shade, the adults on the hike relaxed for a short time while the children explored the tree and its surroundings.
Eventually, some of the explorers ventured up the dry creek bed beside the tree in search of worms and other creatures. They were very successful in that endeavor and came back with handfuls of worms. After convincing those same collectors, that they couldn't take the worms with them and finding suitable places to leave the worms, we started back to the parking area."The hike isn't over yet is it?" was heard several times as we neared the end of the trails. Sadly, it was the end of a very lovely day but there are other days ahead. Hope to see you next on Saturday, August 21 at Green Lane Park. Get outdoors!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Short Hiatus

Just Add Nature is taking a short break while Z and A get a new sibling. 'Swing Cat' as Z has dubbed his new brother or sister is slated to arrive in late April - we'll see no one else has followed the rules (and they still don't). I'm hoping to get all three of them out and about in June as well as planning the first group hike for the middle of the month. So check back soon or send us an email.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pennsylvania Parks #1

Did you know that Pennsylvania State Parks were recently named the best state park system in the country by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration and the National Recreation and Park Association? Here's a video that highlights some of the parks and programs going on in our beautiful state -

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Quarry Trail Lake Nockamixon State Park

It was a beautiful day for a hike at Lake Nockamixon. We returned to the Quarry Trail with the Just Add Nature group so Daddy could try to identify the chestnut tree we found as an American or Chinese. The lake was still frozen and there was still enough ice in spots for some fun and a few spills and tears. A was the youngest on the hike and got lots of help from the adults in the group who helped keep her on track.
Everyone enjoyed the view from the peak of the hill which looks down to the lake. I even heard mention of a picnic sometime when the weather warms up. The boys got ahead of the rest of the group and when A and I finally caught up we found they had passed a turn in the trail and ventured out onto a peninsula of sorts. All the little ones were quietly listening to the pinging and popping of the ice as it expanded and contracted in the morning sun. I have fond (and sometimes scary) memories of that sound having spent a large portion of my childhood living beside a small pond where we frequently ice skated during the winter.

We finally convinced the big and small boys that they needed to turn around and go back or they would miss the chestnut tree. Once we found it, Daddy took some time to study it and decided that he thinks it is an American chestnut. This tree was BIG so this is a very rare specimen if it is. I have yet to send off an email to the park or the American Chestnut Foundation to verify. We'll return in the spring to check on it again when it has leaves so we can be absolutely certain. Daddy explained to most of the children and adults why this is such a special discovery. And why the research being done by the American Chestnut Foundation with the cooperation of Penn State is so important.

We decided to continue on around the loop instead of turning back. However, everyone agreed that this trail is very hard to navigate and confuses even those with a great sense of direction near the end. This was also a very popular location for hunters (it was the last day of the special regulation area extended season for deer) so if you venture out during hunting season please be careful.

Our next group hike will be February 20 at 10 a.m. at a location to be determined. Get outdoors!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Weekend Hike - Black Moshannon State Park

We ventured up to State College for a visit with my favorite aunt and uncle on MLK weekend. We were hoping for snow since they have a few great sledding slopes nearby but were greeted by a landscape similar to Southeastern Pennsylvania's - GRAY! So we drove up to Black Moshannon State Park between Phillipsburg and State College.
As we climbed the windy roads to the park, my aunt informed me that the park and lake are actually at the top of the mountain. This is the first trip I remember to this park although I'm sure my grandparents brought me here at some point during my childhood. According to both my mother and aunt, this was one of their favorite parks. When my grandparents first moved to State College in the 1950s, my grandmother, my mother, and her three siblings lived at the park for several weeks until their home in town was ready. My aunt spoke fondly of their time there. And now I understand why! What a lovely park. The lake was frozen and full of ice fishermen. We started our hike on the frozen lake. Z and A were lucky enough to get a ride on the new toboggan that my aunt and uncle bought for our visit. We talked to the fishermen about ice fishing while several of their catch lay flopping around at their feet. Nothing like taking your dinner home and plopping it already frozen into the freezer! We made it to the boardwalk which juts out into the bog along the shoreline of the lake. At the end of the boardwalk we decided to continue on the trail a bit to see if we could see the beaver damn. It wasn't a far walk but the trail was snow covered so Z rode on the toboggan and A was in the backpack for most of the hike. We made it to what I think was a beaver hut and not the actually damn. We then turned and started back. A decided to ride on the toboggan a bit but was frightened and wanted to walk. My aunt and I held her hands so she wouldn't topple over in the snow to start and then plied her with m&ms every 10-15 feet at the end of the trail. It was a lovely day spent with lovely people at an absolutely lovely park. I can't wait to visit the park during the summer sometime soon.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Exploratory Hike - Quarry Trail - Nockamixon State Park

Z, A, and I visited the Quarry Trail at Lake Nockamixon today. We tried the trail earlier in the summer but it wasn't mowed and looked like a haven for deer ticks so we decided to pass. However, I wish we had revisited the trail later in the summer or fall. There was a glorious view of the still frozen lake from atop the hill. Z stumbled on some chestnuts that Daddy hasn't been able to verify as American or Chinese so we will be returning for our January group hike on the 23rd. And of course there was just enough snow to make Z and A happy!
The trail is wide and well marked to start but near the end we had a hard time figuring out which way to go and ended up turning around several times. It winds through some areas with red cedars and tall grasses and works its way into the woods along Route 563. At one point there is a steep cliff overlooking the lake with a great view of the bridge on 563. The wooded part of the trail was narrower but lovely. We did run into a hunter and saw several tree stands so be sure to don your blaze orange when hiking there.

At several points I noticed signs of what used to be residences or other structures on this land. There seemed to a driveway and there were several stone structures. However, Z was thrilled by the troll or elf house we found in this tree.
And we did get one glimpse of color in the mostly gray and white landscape. This bright orange fungus in some of the remaining snow.