If at first you don’t succeed….. wait for a drier day.
I’d first attempted to hike the main trails, the Creek and Chief’s Grove, at Crow’s Nest Preserve back in June 2013. That didn’t turn out so well, as rain made the trail along French Creek not just muddy, but swampy. I turned back after a half mile of what promised to be a pretty hike.
Friday I returned to the Crow’s Nest. Situated next to Hopewell Furnace and French Creek State Park, this Natural Lands Trust site seems to be overlooked by visitors – as before mine was the only car in the lot. This is a pity, as the Creek and Chief’s Grove trails take you through a streamside, field, forest, and meadow in the two and a half miles of easy hiking. Easy, that is, in dry conditions.
Or drier, at any rate. The trail still had two muddy spots I had to step through carefully, but the hike along sleepy French Creek was pleasant and quick. In a couple of places there are boardwalks to keep your feet from packing the soil, and bridges to cross the runs that feed the creek.
Once I came to a stone culvert, I turned right onto a gravel and dirt road for a few hundred feet, and then left across a wooden bridge and into a field. The sun was out on this warm afternoon, and when I began to climb the hill in the field, I felt it. But the view consoled me.
Following the yellow arrows I looped around a corn field and then a grassland. I was alone aside from butterflies and two crows that took off from the cornfield a few feet ahead of me. I stopped and worked on my ‘short game’ in photography. I love landscapes, but that’s not the only thing I see on a hike. I still need some practice.
I began to feel cooler as I walked, and then noticed it was growing darker. A glance at the sky confirmed what fears. A thunderstorm was forming. I felt confident I could beat it back, and continued at my normal pace.
And I made it back with time to spare. Still having something in my legs, I walked an additional half mile on an adjoining trail, passing through woods to a road bridge over French Creek. Adding in some walking on the road I put in three miles, and was drenched. But I had a great time. Even if I felt almost as wet as the creek.