Hibernia County Park, north of Coatesville, was long on my list of places to hike. I’m fond of iron forges, and historic homes, and Hibernia combined both. Hibernia Mansion is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the park offers tours of the home during the summer months. I arrived on Sunday of Labor Day weekend, just after the tours ended for the year. But despite that drawback, I put three miles under my boots, hiking on gravel and stone trails along the West Branch of Brandywine Creek, along the shores of Chambers Lake, and through the woods surrounding it all.
As nice as the hike was, meeting people was nicer. Rediscovering the outdoors is rediscovering humanity, and on the whole humanity is worth meeting. I spent time talking with a man casting into Chambers Lake, and while chatting about fish I photographed him in action. Or at least tried to. I met an African-American family hiking and exploring the park’s history as it relates to their racial heritage as Americans – iron forges have a mixed past, having both employed slaves when slavery was legal in Pennsylvania, and then often serving as stations on the Underground Railroad. And this Labor Day afternoon there were many children with their parents wandering along the creek and eating at the picnic tables.
But as much as I enjoyed meeting people, I enjoyed being alone. Nature is the ultimate art, and no two people experience it exactly the same way. And when I was alone along Brandywine Creek, I felt as if this world was solely mine. Looking at the photo to the left, I feel the same.
For more information on Hibernia, please visit http://www.chesco.org/index.aspx?NID=1743