We’re doing some housecleaning here at RichBlog.

Until we’re finished, entertain yourself at the old blog.

Wissahickon stairs
Originally uploaded by Richban.

Came down these while hiking in the Wissahickon valley. One of the things that I love about this place is the man-made amid the “natural.” I told my kids that I stumbled upon the entrance to the dwarven kingdom….

Henry Avenue Bridge from below
Originally uploaded by Richban.

2010 in hiking continued. Freezing cold, had the park to myself. Beautiful day. Still no ice on creek.

First hike of 2010 – Wissahickon Valley
Originally uploaded by Richban.

Nice start to the year. Passed a couple of people, but pretty much had the park to myself.

Some recent comments to the blog made me realize that I’m way behind in posting some details from our camping. So, to come soon, are trip reports from:

Kettle Creek State Park (May 2009)
Colonel Denning State Park (April 2009)
Hickory Run Revisited (October, 2008)

And thanks for reading!

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Trees at Mammoth Hot Springs
Originally uploaded by Richban.

These trees at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park have hardened to a stone-like consistency due to the uptake of minerals from the spring through their roots. Since the springs change course and some sections “dry-up” for years at a time growth is possible, but when the spring waters return, this is the result. Apparently, trees like this can stand for years.

This photo was taken in February, 2009 while quite a bit of snow was on the ground. Although we only got to the northern part of the park – the rest being closed to vehicles in the winter – Yellowstone is worth a visit anytime of the year.

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Ice I
Originally uploaded by Richban.

This strange ice was collecting at the bottom of the water fall near to where the Wissahickon empties into the Schuylkill River.

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Spotlight
Originally uploaded by Richban.

So glad that we have a world-class bicycle race in Philadelphia. And, better yet, that one of the best vantage points is right at the bottom of our street.

This year’s extreme heat was brutal, but we still got out for a couple of laps. More photos at my Flickr page.

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(part of a continuing series on car camping – particularly in Pennsylvania’s state parks but with occasional excursions further afield.)

Dates: May 16-18, 2008
Location: High Point State Park, NJ

The state of New Jersey continues to surprise. Known far and wide as the home of the NJ Turnpike and the most densely populated state, you’d be suprised at some of the outdoor opportunities. This was our second NJ camping experience – the first being to Worthington State Forest in September of 2005.


High Point State Park is situated in far North-western NJ – right in the area where PA, NY and NJ meet. Also known as the Skylands, this section of NJ consists of rolling hills, forests and the Delaware River Valley. It is – you guessed it – home to the highest point in the state at 1,803 feet above sea level.

It rained and rained as we drove up through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation area on the PA side of the river. Forecasts indicated that the rain would lessen throughout the day. It never did.

Based on some info. obtained online, we reserved site 34 on the outer edge of the loop around Sawmill Lake. After arrival – postponed all morning and afternoon due to the rain – we quickly moved into site 15 on the inner side of the loop and with lake-front access.

The parks 50 sites are virtually all tent sites – what a nice change from many of the PA parks which tend to attract more and more camp vehicles every year. You really can’t go wrong picking a site. The inner loop sites are all close to the lake and spacious with a good amount of room between each. The outer loop sites are a bit more secluded and offer more in the way of privacy. There are several flush toilets scattered about the campground. However, there are no showers, hot water or sinks – a good thing in my view! Park staff (rangers and otherwise) make frequent passes through the campground and strictly enforce the park rule which states that you MUST keep your cooler in your vehicle – even when cooking, due to bear activity.

We pitched tents and cooked dinner – the traditional first night campfire burritos (thankfully we had charcoal) – in the rain. The younger group members were a bit upset that there would be no campfire. By the time we turned in, it was a relief to be out of the rain.


Saturday dawned sunny and nice. The rain must have finally ended around 2 or 3 am. While the boys played lake and creekside (there are many small streams that cut through the camping area and feed the lake – perfect for competitive stick-racing!), Jim prepared a big breakfast. We then took the .5 mile long Blue Dot trail to the its intersection with the Appalachian Trail.


At the trail head for the Blue Dot trail we were warned that there would be many rough spots and steep going. Its true. And it offers a great and scenic hike as you make your way to the top of the ridge. The AT portion of the hike is relatively easy-going and flat. We made it to the park office and then took a side-trail and roads back to the campground.


The rest of the afternoon was spent gathering firewood and relaxing lakeside. Rain threatened to mar the evening and Steve’s cheeseburger dinner – so Jim spent some time rigging a pretty elaborate tarp shelter, but the rain passed quickly and we had a nice fire to relax by.

After turning in, we noted several ticks on the boys. Campers should definately beware this. By the time we left we had either removed or brushed off over a dozen ticks.


Sunday dawned sunny and warm, but quickly changed to clouds. We packed up and headed for the park monument when the clouds opened again. This was one of the wetter trips we’ve been on. After a bit of touring around the monument we headed for home.

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(part of a continuing series on car camping – particularly in Pennsylvania’s state parks but with occasional excursions further afield.)

Dates: April 18 – 20, 2008
Location: Cowan’s Gap State Park PA

Its always good to get to explore and investigate a new park. So when Steve suggested Cowan’s Gap as the destination for our first camping trip of the season, I was all for it.

The park is situated in a beautiful section of the South-central PA in the Allen’s Valley about 2 and 3/4 hours drive from Philadelphia.

On the day of our drive the weather was unseasonably warm (temps in the low 80s) and sunny. We arrived to find Steve already set-up in site 188 in camping area B. This section of the campground is located right alongside Cowan’s Gap Lake and offers easy access to the lake and a couple of nearby trails.


We considered pitching our tent with Steve’s pop-up, but since several walk-in sites were just down the road, Callan and I ended up in site W7 – a spacious site perfect for our tent with close proximity to the lake.

After setting up, we relaxed lake-side. Steve, Kim and Callan did some impromtu fishing while I prepared our traditional first night dinner – campfire burritos.

We had a great night’s sleep, but other campers may want to consider this: located a very short distance downstream of the lake is some kind of water treatment/pumping facility. Occasionally a generator or some other equipment would come to life, filling the valley with its hum. Though not a trip destroyer, it was a distraction from the peace and quiet.

On day 2, we explored the Park’s other facilities a bit. The Park’s other camping loop – A – is certainly larger with some more spacious sites, but, and this is critical for us, it has no lakefront real-estate. We were happy to be in B. I’d recommend any of the walk-in sites, but particularly W4 and W5 for their setting in the woods. Otherwise, the park has modern facilities with hot-showers, running water, and newer buildings.

Next up was, what turned out to be a great hike. From the walk-in site area, we took the Tuscarora trail to its intersection with the Horseshoe trail. We knew that parts of the trail up the side of Cove Mountain would be steep and rocky. We just didn’t know how steep. Everytime we hit a particularly tough section, we though that “this is the steep part” as marked on the map. We were wrong. Several times.

The “steep part” marked on the map is actually on the other side of the “peak.” Downhill for us. This little bit of map misreading wasn’t enough to deter us and we continued on to the top, some fabulous views of the valley beyond.

The Horseshoe Trail ends at the Knobsville Road Trail – a relatively easy walk back to the park past the remains of a landslide and the old Civilian Conservation Corps incinerator. Be sure to stop at the park overlook which offers an excellent view of the gap itself.

Once again, we ended the day relaxing lakeside – watching as an osprey repeatedly rose and dived as it hunted for fish.

This trip ended in a deluge as we had quite a bit of rain Saturday night and Sunday. We quickly packed and headed for home.

A few other photos at my Flickr page.

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