Exploring Wissahickon Valley Park

Good evening!

It has been quite a while since I last posted, but I have been super busy with work, class/homework, and my internship. I barely have a free moment! I finally scheduled an afternoon for myself to walk along some easy trials close to where I work.

Wissahickon Valley Park is part of the Fairmount Park system in Philadelphia, PA. It runs along the the Wissahickon Creek which stretches from Chestnut Hill to Manayunk. I have driven past this park many times while working over in Philly and have always desired to explore it. This park is so large that I barely made it halfway through the trails after 4 hours! I probably walked about 6 miles total along the easy trails. There are also moderate trails along the valley that I plan to check out in the future. Please visit the Friends of the Wissahickon website for more information and plan your trip today!

I shot my trip photos with my iPhone 5 and my Lieqi clip on lenses! I ordered them for around $10 on Amazon.

This kit included 3 different types of lenses: Fish Eye, Wide Angle, and Macro. They are AWESOME and I love to play around with them. It is so much fun to get photos from a different perspective. Check out my gallery below. And as always, please comment and subscribe!

Jessica’s Photos from Mt. Tammany

I’m sure you’ve all read Steph’s awesome post about the Delaware Water Gap! Today I’m going to share the photos that I took from that amazing trip.

This trip would count as my second major hiking trip. Mt. Tammany is around 1500ft above sea level (pretty close in height to Hawk Mountain actually). By researching a few websites, I knew what to expect and had confidence that I could complete it. Sure, it was exhausting but the views were worth it.

Delaware Water Gap

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Jim Thorpe, PA

Hey all! Well, I haven’t exactly been anywhere too cool recently to post about, BUT there is one place that I was at not too long called, Jim Thorpe, PA! Jim Thorpe is a little town in the mountains by the Poconos! Its cute, it’s quaint and a really nice get away for a decent price!

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I really wanted to take Pete, my boyfriend, some where nice for his birthday this year and I found Jim Thorpe to be in my budget!! We stayed in a private apartment while we were there, which was the most expensive thing, totaling around $330.00. But we stayed two nights, in a private apartment, with a kitchen that was completely stocked with food,  a small dining area, a couch, a little television, a very comfortable bed, with our own entrance and reserved parking spot (which was fabulous because if you have ever been to Jim Thorpe, you know parking doesn’t come easy!).  The woman who owns it was very friendly and had bought Pete a box of chocolates for his birthday which she left on the coffee table! It was a very nice apartment, one that I would recommend to anyone if your looking to spoil yourself for a moderate cost! I loved it! 🙂

While we were there, we walked around the cute town and enjoyed the festivities they were having as it was Jim Thorpe’s birthday celebration. They had vendors, all sorts of tables set up for arts and crafts, live music that echoed through the mountainous town! It was really neat!! Then, we took the train ride through the mountains. I believe it was about $10.00 each. Not to bad! It was a relaxing train ride, the guide educated us on the history of the town as well as the nature that surrounds it. The wild life was awesome and the view was incredible!

We also did a tour of the Old Jail tour in town. It was very interesting and also inexpensive, I believe $7.00 per person!

At Jim Thorpe, there are plenty of places to eat for a great price, sights to see for free, and many, many tours to do for usually no more than $15.00!

While I was there, I looked into camp grounds around the area. There are many. The one I was interested in was Roundstone Camping!  I’d like to go camping here, and do some hiking sometime soon. The cost is only $38.00 for a tent site, I believe.

If you are interested in in getting out for a weekend, I highly suggest going here! Whether you prefer to enjoy a private apartment, do the tours and eat at the more pricier places (which are very delicious) OR if you like to get down and dirty with a tent, a backpack and yourself, get some inexpensive food, go hiking and swim in the river afterwards, this is the place for you! Me? I love both 🙂

Please check out the Jim Thorpe website for yourself sometime!

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Camping with Wolves

Hello all! This weekend I took a wonderful overnight trip to Columbia, New Jersey to camp at Camp Taylor Campground and visited the Lakota Wolf Preserve.

My boyfriend Dan and I were looking for a primitive and secluded campground within a 1 to 2 hour drive from home. After searching the web I landed on a page describing a quiet campground up in the hills of North Jersey, just 10 minutes from the Delaware River and the Water Gap. As I read more on their webpage, I realized that it was on the same grounds as the Lakota Wolf Preserve which Steph had told me about a while back. Excitedly I called to ensure they had availability, and off we were!

Upon arrival, we were greeted with helpful staff. They went over the ground rules with us (quiet time @ 11pm, recycle, and watch out for BEARS). They handed us a map and highlighted the available spaces and allowed us to drive back to take a look around and pick out the site we wanted! We paid the $30 nightly fee for a primitive site and $10 for 2 bundles of firewood.

We drove back in to the woods and picked site #87, which was surrounded by trees and right next to the pit toilet and drinking water tap. It had an awesome stone fire pit and a picnic table ready for us to use!

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Check out my new Ozark Trail two-person dome tent.

After setting up camp, we hiked a nearby trail for about 15 minutes until we came up to the large enclosures where the wolves lived. As soon as we walked up to the fences, two wolves ran right up to where we were standing and started playing with each other. I feel like they came to put on a show for us. Check out some more videos from the Lakota Wolf Preserve on my Youtube channel!

They also had two bobcats and two foxes living on the preserve as well. I believe there was a second fenced off area which had some deer in it, but we didn’t have a chance to check it out on this trip.

After spending some time admiring the wildlife up close and personal, we headed back to our campsite for some dinner. Dan and I used our scout skills to get the fire started. We put on the Classic Rock station on Pandora and started roasting some dogs (Hebrew National All Beef Kosher Hot Dogs). The hot dogs roasted over the fire were AWESOME by the way!

As the sun began to set, the darkness crawled in. Sitting in blackness only illumined by the glowing fire, we roasted marshmallows for s’mores and sang Piano Man by Billy Joel. This was the first time I had ever been to such a secluded campsite. Growing up, I always went with with my family with our retro hitch camper to a parking lot or field. I looked all around us and all I saw was black. I looked up through the darkened tree tops and saw glowing stars on an indigo sky. It was beautiful and peaceful. I was tipsy off two glasses of boxed moscato and was truly enjoying life. I had been so stressed out lately with my job, internship, and schoolwork. I almost forgot what it was like to feel care-free. This was a much needed trip!

Before getting to bed, we took my little LED lantern over to the pit toilet for a pit stop. Dan opened the door and something started flying all over the place. It was a poor scared bird fluttering around and something fell from it as it was trying to escape. I thought we “scared the literal shit out of him” but it turned out the bird had only dropped his dinner… a GIANT BLACK SPIDER. Surprisingly I did’t scream and just anxiously observed to see if it moved. Thankfully, the monstrosity had already passed away and was sitting motionless in the back corner. I somehow gathered inner strength to still use that toilet. As gross as it was, what can you expect from a back woods pit toilet?

The excitement doesn’t end there. Once Dan and I were all cozied up inside the tent we spent some time tossing around trying to get comfortable. I purchased some foam tiles from Five Below for a makeshift floor. They were excellent in protecting us from the rocky ground, but we still could’ve used some more cushioning besides our sleeping bags. I also couldn’t sleep because I knew I’d have to use the bathroom again (too much wine I suppose). We finally started to settle down and relax after I asked Dan to accompany me to my second bathroom break (this time a little further down to an actual porta-potty).

As we lay there searching for sleep, we suddenly began to hear leaves shuffling. My heart was pounding heavily in my chest. Dan and I were both thinking the same thing… BEAR. I swear if I did’t pee beforehand I would’ve wet my PJs. We grabbed the lantern and our iPhone flashlight to try and peer into the darkness. It was just past the trees where we saw two eyes glimmering back at us. Holy shit holy shit holy shit holy shit…

Dan and I looked at each other. I said “Wanna run to the car?” and he said “Yes!” So we bolted for my car and slammed the doors behind us. I rolled down the window to shine the flashlight back out in to the woods. I could see the eyes coming closer and closer. Then I saw a second pair of eyes… and then a third. I definitely thought I was going to die on my first “real” camping trip.

But as the eyes came closer, so did the creature’s silhouette. Turns out, it was just a pack of hungry deer. Dan and I laughed it off and hurried back in to the tent. Now a little calmer about the local wildlife, we could rest easy. It still took me a little longer to fall asleep due to the constant rustling of leaves and rocks around the tent. Also, it was a bit chilly, but my new sleeping bag kept me toasty warm.

We woke up with the sun the next morning, but then drifted in and out of a lazy sleep until around 9am when our nearby neighbors started to get up and cook breakfast. We got up as well and had our granola bars and fruit before starting to pack up our things. I was tired, but happy. It was an excellent camping trip with beautiful spring-like weather. I would definitely recommend this campground and I hope to go back soon!

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Delaware Water Gap, NJ

I had moved up to North Jersey, the more mountainous section, within the past year or so. I never realized how much I loved the mountains and nature until I did so. I have been to California, Georgia, upstate New York and France, so I have seen much larger mountains before. It was sure a sight to behold, and I appreciated every bit it of it. However, the desire to “explore” those mountains and feel at peace with nature was just not really there for me.

It wasn’t until a couple months ago when Jessica asked me if I wanted to go hiking not to far from my home, at the Delaware Water Gap. I thought about it and excitedly agreed. I’ll be honest, I only hiked a handful of times in my entire life, and I HATED it, Haha! Once in California, which was quite a bit ago, and a little bit in France, and a few trails in South Jersey (where I am from). When I moved up here, I started walking around the huge lake that I live on, which I love doing, but other than that I really hadn’t done much hiking! So when she asked me to go with her, I actually felt excited this time, I felt different, like I would enjoy it! And you know what? I loved it!

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We got there around 9:00 in the morning, parking was free, which is awesome and there our journey began! And it. was. hard. The mountains at the Delaware Water Gap aren’t super huge, therefore I thought it would be (somewhat) a simple task! Oh, how wrong was I! Suddenly, this mountain was the largest mountain in the world to me. From not hiking anything in years to suddenly hiking a mountain with a difficulty level of medium, I thought I was going to die (or get eaten by an orc)! Initially, there was some wooden stairs to take. But when the steps had ended, it was all rock and earth! And the mountain was steep. I think I needed to take a break every 5- 10 minutes 😦 ! How out of shape I was! But I simply couldn’t wait to get to the top!

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You can see the incline a little bit here but it was steeper than this!

We marched along and climbed up those rocks and trudged through the heat and, finally, we made it to the top! We had done it! We saw the world from the top of a mountain that we had climbed! It was a wonderful, glorious, happy feeling, one that I wanted to keep achieving many times over, and I knew at that moment, looking down at the river so far below that this was only the beginning of a wonderful lifetime of new adventures. We sat on top of this mountain, on a huge rock, ate some lunch and rehydrated as we enjoyed the beautiful view! I don’t think either one of us was ready to make our way back down.

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This was only part of the view!

After we regained some strength we decided to get a move on. I think, in a way, it was harder to hike down since the slopes were steeper and we had nothing to keep us balanced! But step by step we made it down. As we were hiking, we found an awesome area where there are waterfalls. We were sweating, and the water looked so inviting, so we climbed down to romp around in the water a little bit. We stayed by that fresh water for maybe another half hour or so enjoying every moment! I was not ready to leave there. Actually, I probably could have stayed there all day!

It was a four hour journey in which I had so much fun! Though I felt exhausted, I couldn’t wait to do another hike! YAY 🙂

Check it out for yourselves!! 🙂

Hawk Mountain in Kempton, PA

Hi everyone, Jessica here. I decided that my first official blog post should cover the initial hiking trip that started it all for me! I was never really an outdoors kind of person. Now, I always wished I was an outdoors person… I just always had excuses. Either I had no time, no money, or no one to go with! But it was time for a change.

Thats me on the left in the grey hoodie

A few of my friends from college made a trip to Hawk Mountain in 2013. Unfortunately I was unable to go that time around. But when it was time for them to take another trip the following year, I jumped right on board. The trip was set to take place in November 2014. Now I’ve never been hiking before but I thought, “How hard could it be?”

The first thing I had to do was to get prepared. Thanks to my paranoia surrounding Dooms Day 2012, I had a bunch of survival supplies that I could bring with me (i.e. first aid stuff). I had also recently purchased some New Balance hiking sneakers that were on sale at Sears. I went to good will to get some old cargo pants. I packed a bunch of snacks the night before so that I would have plenty to eat on this day trip. Oh and don’t forget the water!

So my friend Rachel and I are driving up the road towards our destination and…

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“We’re going to climb that?!” Okay so maybe I didn’t do my research. I was a hiking newbie and only expected a few trails through the woods. So we got there around noon since it was a about an hour and a half drive from central Jersey. Oh, did I mention it was in November? Meaning: it was freezing cold!

After everyone met up and paid the cheap $6 fee, we headed off. The trail actually begins at an already high elevation, so without much trouble we were met with our first panoramic views. After that we hiked down hill in to the valley and crossed the river of rocks. This was so exciting and difficult. My ankles were NOT prepared. After the rocks and spending some time trekking through the valley, we started heading uphill again towards the summit. This was a strenuous rock scramble for me since it was my first time, but I’m sure it will all get much easier as I continue to train.

What I couldn’t understand was: I am a thin and relatively healthy girl and I struggled with endurance, and yet a few of my hefty male college friends were trucking along with no problem as they chugged beers and smoked cigarettes. Only more motivation for me to keep training I suppose!

Once we made it to the top of Hawk Mountain I got hit with the endorphin high from accomplishing this physical task. Looking around at the views, I really felt on top of the world. The mountain is really only 1500ft about sea level, but after growing up in flat south Jersey I felt like I could fly. Now I am officially addicted!

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Rachel and I

Check out my gallery below for pics. If you’re interested in hiking here, take a look at Hawk Mountain’s website.