Each year our county, Montgomery County in Pennsylvania, USA, sponsors a trail challenge – visit county trails and collect a symbol to mark your progress, and at the end of the challenge, depending on how many you get to, you get a small prize. We have done this challenge several times.
Last year, during the first part of the pandemic, getting outside to walk was one of the few activities we could do away from home and we really dove into things – do you remember us doing the Perkiomen Trail 2 times for a total of 40 miles? It was not part of the challenge: we just did it for our own satisfaction. (Posts describing the adventure can be found posted during June 2020 on this blog). We walked every section of this map and we’re still proud of it!
In 2020 the county was not sure if it could put on the challenge and only decided to do so in August, 2020. There were no symbols to collect – instead, we took photos of ourselves at the various trails. Like this one.
Now we are in 2021 and the challenge has proceeded as in the past – stretching from May to December 5, 2021.
We did a lot of trails – seven – earlier this summer. Then we got stuck. As you may know, I have been and am still having some eyesight issues that have slowed me down some. We sort of forgot about the challenge.
But – I was thinking about it this week, with the deadline coming up. I hated to admit we couldn’t finish. The idea came to me – we could do three trails in a day, couldn’t we? The rules say you don’t have to cover the whole trail, just put some time in. The missing pieces of our puzzle were not far apart in location – in fact two of them connect. Let’s try it, I said to my husband.
So this morning we got up, got going, and arrived at the 202 Parkway trail. This is a paved path connecting Montgomeryville with Doylestown, essentially; it goes alongside the road. It’s not a favorite of ours as walkers but people on bikes love it.
We parked right over the county line in Bucks County and crossed the intersection to get into Montco.
Right away we collected our symbol.
We then walked about a mile. That was enough to feel good about counting the trail on our scorecard, we decided. We went back to the car and drove over to Audobon, PA to travel a bit on the Audobon Loop and then pick up a bit of the Perkiomen Trail.
There is a big parking lot where it’s possible to access both trails. We left our little car Jen McGill there and set off. First we wanted to do some steps on the Loop. It takes you across the Perkiomen Creek on a highway bridge (scary with cars rushing past you) and into Mill Grove, a place famous for the fact that John James Audobon lived here and began his naturalist career here. Here we collected the symbol:
and here is a photo of me. Did I mention it was a very cold day, at freezing, and with wind gusts of about 20 MPH? I think my outfit might tell you even if I didn’t say so in words – it was cold.
We had decided to go up the hill (a 9% grade, the sign said) to the brick chimney, remnants of lead and copper mining done here in the early 1800’s. A lot of mining was done in our area, I have learned, and you see the remnants of the industry in many locations.
Once we got to the top, we turned around and went back to the parking lot to pick up the Perkiomen Trail. We collected our symbol and then set out to walk.
We walked along the banks of the Perkiomen Creek. You may remember that back in the late summer our area was hit by Hurricane Ida, who brought us enormous floods and some destructive tornadoes. As you might expect, this creek flooded and in fact these two trails where we were today were closed for a long time because of the destruction. It’s very easy to see the marks of the flooding even now, though a lot of cleanup has been done.
But we focused on how things looked today. Across the creek, we were struck by the sight of a length of the opposite bank lined with sycamores. I love their angular forms and white limbs.
A short time later, we turned around and went back to the car. Our walk on these two trails totaled 4 miles, so in all today we did 5 miles. Surely that is a fair showing for us to feel good about collecting these trails for our prize! I am very grateful that we were able to get out and complete the challenge. Somehow this year it seems especially important to me to have done it.
Here are all the symbols we collected this year: