Monday, August 19, 2013

A Good Excuse for a Walk

Center Bridge over the Delaware River (New Jersey on left)
Normally, this time of year, Kali and I would use the very short window of opportunity to buy ripe, freshly picked peaches as an excuse to make a 25-mile trip to an orchard in Bucks County, and to ride our bikes along the Delaware River.  But, with Kali's July injury in Fort Collins, Colorado, healing only very gradually, we still can't get on our bikes. 

Instead, on Saturday afternoon we decided to make the trek to the orchard, and to walk (not ride) along the Delaware Canal towpath that parallels the Delaware River on the Pennsylvania side of the river.  (A similar towpath follows the Delaware and Raritan Canal on the New Jersey side of the river, and it's in much better condition than the flood-ravaged path on the Pennsylvania side, but it's also much more heavily used and less enjoyable for walking - though much preferable for biking.)

We walked about three miles (1.5 miles out and back) and stopped for an (unsatisfying) soft serve ice cream cone at a locally popular drive-in at the turnaround point.  The conditions were great for a nice walk: relatively low humidity, partly cloudy skies to keep the temperature reasonable, lots of shade along the path, and nice scenery with the river on one side and the canal lined with elegant properties on the other.
Delaware Canal towpath trail
A restored lock along the Delaware Canal
Canal towpath, Delaware River, and bridge to New Jersey
Riding inner tubes on the relatively gentle current is a summertime tradition along this stretch of the Delaware River, but a tuber from Washington DC drowned last week about six miles north of this bridge when he and his friends went tubing when the river was high from rain in its headwaters.  Normally, the wide river is nearly shallow enough to wade.
Elegant (and pricey) digs along the Delaware Canal
Many people have built (or renovated existing historical) houses along the canal and, in places where it's wide enough, even on the strip of land between the river and the canal.  I can certainly appreciate the appeal of the location, but given the river's propensity to flood, I doubt that I'd locate here even if I could afford it (which I can't).
Purple loosestrife on the canal bank
Attractive purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), an invasive plant, grows abundantly along the canal's banks.  While it may be alien, it certainly provides pollen and nectar for countless native insects - probably one of the reasons why it's so successful. 
Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) and duckweed (Lemna spp.)
After we returned to the car, we drove a few miles uphill out of the valley to the peach orchard where we bought a half-peck of yellow peaches, some crispy early-season Stanza apples, and a jar of home-made peach-raspberry jam. 
Kali approaching Manoff Market Gardens' peach shed
Decisions, decisions...
Kali selecting some Stanza apples


packrat said...

Excellent images, Scott. The composition of all of them is really good. Love the ducks. You sure made me hanker for some of that fruit. Nothing quite like buying fresh fruit from a farmer's market.

Carolyn H said...

I love the photo of wood ducks in the duckweed. Is that a cliche?

Scott said...

Packrat: After peach season winds up, it will be apple season, but it's just too far a drive to justify going to the market only for apples. I hope Kali's knee improves (she's got a orthopod appointment in early September) so we can bicycle again.

I'm satisfied with the duck image, too; thank you. I took nearly 20 pictures of the ducks, and this was the best.

Scott said...

Carolyn: The thought crossed my mind about the ducks and duckweed, too, but the canal was full of duckweed everywhere, so every image of the ducks that I took also featured the duckweed.

Mark P said...

That does look like a nice walk. My brother and I backpacked on some forest/mountain trail near Pittsburgh many years ago and passed through what had been an apple orchard. We picked a few, which were good despite no real cultivation for years.

There used to be a peach orchard near Rome, Ga (the peach state, you know). I can remember picking peaches (it was a self-pick orchard) and eating a few. Nothing like sticky peach juice running down your arms and the itchy feeling of peach fuzz on a hot summer day. It closed many years ago and there is no peach orchard within a reasonable distance of us now.

robin andrea said...

Love seeing the river and the ducks. Looks like a fine place for a bike ride or leisurely walk.

Scott said...

Mark: I wonder if you were hiking the Laurel Highlands Trail, a fine, long-distance hike along the crest of Laurel Ridge about 1-1/2 hours east of Pittsburgh. I've only hiked a short distance along the trail, but it was fine.

There's a church near us that maintains an allee of apple trees along its long driveway. The church used to trim the trees meticulously, but the job took one of the land managers a full winter to complete, an indulgence the church could ill afford to continue. So, now the trees are mostly untended and the apples, while still edible, deteriorate in quality a bit more each year. The deer don't seem to mind, though; in fact, they're probably happier that people aren't picking the apples routinely.

No peach orchard within a reasonable driving distance in Georgia? A sacrilege! (Did you know, by the way, that Pennsylvania is the second-largest producer of peaches in the United States?)

Scott said...

Robin Andrea: The towpath (in this section) is a fine place for a walk and a bike ride, but further north (upstream) it has been repeatedly damaged by flooding from the river, and the canal itself has been dewatered by breaches in the canal dike wall. The canal and towpath are a linear state park, and the state has poured millions of dollars into maintaining the canal and towpath, only to see it destroyed again and again, seemingly as soon as the last repairs are complete. I think they've given up, which is sort of a shame because the towpath really does provide a really nice bicycling experience, but why keep dumping money down a bottomless rathole?

Mark P said...

I think it was the Laurel Highlands Trail. I am surprised that I recognized that name after all these years.

And about no peaches, I think there might be some orchards within maybe an hour and a half drive, but I'm not sure. I was told that the top of the mountain where we live was once an orchard (peach? apple?) but there is no sign of it today. I read recently that blueberries are now Georgia's biggest fruit cash crop. So now we have to call Georgia the Blueberry State?

Scott said...

Mark: I dearly love fresh peaches (in fact, I won't even buy the ones at the grocery store), but I wouldn't drive 1-1/2 hours just for a peach. I guess you'll have to make do with blueberries (which are OK, but I wouldn't go out of my way for them).