Well the goal is 300 miles for the year. Yesterday was a record day. I covered 15 more miles to make it to 38. It was a chilly morning with temperatures around the high 30s when I started driving from home. The destination was Green Lane Park and the Red Trail. I have been on this trail a few times already. The trail is about 5 miles long, but put it together with the Blue trail (4 miles), parts of the Perkiomen trail (1.5 miles) and the connector loop (1.5 miles) and it adds up to about 12 miles. I stopped at the Lowes and picked up a friend of mine who is an avid outdoors person himself. From there on, it was about 20-25 minutes of driving through a mix of suburbia and old town America. Places where houses are small and land is green but big. There is definitely a church on the landscape before it disappears from the eyes. Life where things are simpler – no rush to get onto the highway for the daily job or the rat-race to prove one’s upmanship. The land was still sleeping except for the occasional truck driving by. The fog was slowly lifting and the sun was taking over. It was going to be a beautiful day. We have had some nice winter days – much more than average i.e., bright and shiny. However, there had been stretches of clouds for days together adding to the depressive atmosphere. The mind needs light just like the body needs food. Suddenly on a bright sunny day you feel so energetic and positive. Of course, sitting at a desk and working 18 hour days doesn’t help! The constant barrage of phone calls and the unreasonable requests keep coming as if there is no end. Corporate America would have been so efficient if all business were just mom-n-shop. The eye on costs and focus on needing to meet the customer’s need would still be paramount. But with big business, the focus is making money and it is a trap.
Anyway, enough said or my rambles. We reached the Parking lot on Knight’s road at 7:15 AM. We were surprised to see two cars parked already. The fog and the chill was heavier here, but the rolling landscape and the expanse of it is a great distraction from the cold. I wanted to start near the start of the Blue trail but missing the parking lot a couple of times. Not wanting to waste more time, I headed to the familiar parking space.
As we drove by, I couldn’t help but remembering him. We drove by his house to start and surely missed him on the hike. We had passed the handbag outlet store on Rt 63 and it was a pleasure to see a small, local shop still surviving amidst the onslaught of cheap Chinese goods. There is many a building that I come across on my drives even within town or neighboring ones that are closed. Thinking of all the families that lost their livelihood and the good times that might have continued certainly pinches the heart. All because President Clinton was bent on making history by promoting free trade. The downhill for the common man in America started right then.
The red trail and the blue trails essentially envelopes the lower body of the water at the reservoir. Someone had told me that the red trail was the harder part, but the Blue trail easily beats it out. The trail is mostly flat with mud paths made for horse riding. You need to walk on the sides i.e., on the higher grounds to avoid the puddles. Our pace was excellent at about 17-18 minutes per mile and we covered the fours mile of the Red in an hour and a half. Walking across the bridge at the end of Knight’s at Ward is always refreshing. Some photo ops and we were moving again. We somehow stepped out of the woods and unknowingly entered small town America – the township of Hanover. It was absolutely quiet except for the woodpeckers waking up now and then feasting on the plethora of woods. About a mile of walking on the streets and we decided to turn back. We again went past the inconspicuous entry back to the trail for another 1/2 mile.
There are about 4-5 water crossings that make the hike interesting. Lots and lots of trees all stand tall with quite a few felled down either by nature herself or the ranger. We came across a couple of huge uprooted trees with their bottom six feet in diameter. I pointed out a few places where we had sat down for a break. His sense of direction was too good. I would always approximate where I needed to go knowing I can course-correct soon. But he was much sharper at this.
By the time we reached the boat house it was mid morning. Knowing we had covered only about 50% of the hike was the challenge to overcome. The Blue trail is mostly in the woods with rolling hills and difficult sections and it makes it harder to keep up the pace. We came across just a few people on the paths, one of them looked like a young Indian with a thick, black beard. There are many locals who take a walk in the woods in the morning and many with their dogs. It is a common sight. You hardly find any Indians on hikes unless it is an easy walk in the heart of the city. Life is too busy to let us enjoy the simple pleasure that nature provides us.
Anyway, from the boathouse we went up Hill Road for a bit. The uphill was quite a workout. By this time, my legs were crying out loud despite the energy bar and the coconut water on the way. The boathouse was empty with just one family settling down for a late morning breakfast. We could have taken Hill road all the way to Rt. 29 to turn around back towards the Red trail, but we decided to skip the road and get back on the trail. Again the directions not being very clear led us to hike another 20 minutes before we started seeing the Amphitheater grounds. There on it was easy to locate the Perkiomen trail. By this time, there was quite an activity in the park – people walking their dogs, the occasional visitor taking photographs. Three older beings were very inquisitive and appreciative of the surroundings as they walked on the bridge by the salt storage facility. We came across an abandoned bridge only to realize the path to the other side of the water lay further ahead. The Perkiomen trail connects to the Red trail via the GL Connector loop. This loop has named trees making it an interesting study of a walk – good to get the children along sometime. You see, you need to take the children on walks in the woods. They should get to experience nature right from their childhood. It develops in them an appreciation of nature much more than they would be exposed if all their outings are Chuck-e-cheeses or pizza parlors or birthday parties. When they face challenges and need to find quiet time, they will know what true quietness is. This helps them clear up their mind and focus for the challenge ahead. Unfortunately most people are way too busy to take a segment out of their weekly lives for such activities. That’s a pity.
By the time we reached the end of the GL connector loop, my heel edges were getting sore and the front of the foot was crying out loud to be released from the shoes. Sitting down by the water below the towering pines was a nice break. The few ravens were having a good time soaring through the woods. Once we went past the back of the elementary school, it was woods again. The last section threw up a difficult incline of an uphill. At the end of which, it was a relief to see the parked cars. This time around, there were no horses riding towards us. I remember him talking yet again to one of the leaders, not sure what he wanted to know, but he had this remarkable ability of approaching a total stranger and striking up a conversation. I would be hesitant, but every time I was surprised by his unassuming or uncanny ability to talk to anyone.