Friday, June 20, 2014

Photo Essay: After a Rain

A tiny native solitary bee is dwarfed by unopened milkweed flowers buds.
This week's severe storms luckily swung south of us, but still brought some big winds and a period of intense downpours. This is just the kind of rainy, lightning-filled weather our state insect, the firefly, loves at peak breeding season! But, I wondered, how do other insects in the garden deal with brief but heavy storms? The morning following a big blow, I went out to find how they fared.


It's amazing to see how delicate leaves are shaped to deal with running water. Terminal leaf points and dipper-like terminal stem buds help to slow and direct water so that fragile leaves and young stems are not damaged in heavy downpours.








Forest fly dries off after the rain.

My first walk through the garden after the rain revealed few insects, but the closer I looked the more I saw that plants offered plenty of sheltering places. Under heavy, broad rhododendron leaves flies and ants were resting. Inside rolled leaves were caterpillars and spiders. Beneath heavy flower petals were bees and others waiting for the sun to emerge. And when it did - they waited a little more until leaves were drip-dry.


I find jumping spiders so curious and friendly. They love having their pictures taken.


Moth emerges from under a flake of cherry tree bark.


Jumping spider in her storm shelter below a flower bud.



As the sun shone a little brighter, insects began to fly and buzz and crawl everywhere. For a small garden spider in my woods garden, the business of repair a torn web was first priority. Smaller than a dime, this little weaver worked carefully to mend a hole caused by a fallen stick. It helped to have so many legs and claws to do this complex work so beautifully.

Tiny garden spider repairs her storm-damaged web.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Mason Dixon Trail: Map 9 - PA to DE to MD

Saturday, June 7, 2014: White Clay Creek Preserve, Landenburg PA to Newark, DE.  9 miles.
Sunday, June 8, 2014: Newark DE to Elkton MD. 9 miles.

Saturday - 

My hiking companions and I completed this 18 mile section of the MDT over the National Trails Day Weekend, June 7-8. It is a truly beautiful section, traversing southward through White Clay Creek Preserve in Landenburg, PA, across the state line in White Clay Creek State Park into Delaware, through the City of Newark (University of Delaware), over Iron Hill, and swinging west across the state line into Elkton, MD. A friend of mine who works as a historian of monuments and commemoration spaces in the Mid-Atlantic, asked me to make sure to take lots of pictures. "You'll be surrounded by monuments and landmarks, some placed by God, and some placed by man." 

White Clay Creek State Park, start of Map 9 sections. Pic by Kim.

We started where we left off, at Parking Lot #1 in White Clay Creek State Park in PA. Hiking along White Clay Creek through the flood plain we passed some hikers, cyclists, and joggers, most coming from the south. One senior runner passed us along a narrow section of trail and we squeezed over to let him pass,. He ran by huffing and puffing and smiling "Good Morning, Ladies!" with a face full of blood. BLOOD?! We stood somewhat stupefied by what we'd seen, utterly speechless. Moving on...

Careful! Recent severe flooding of the White Clay Creek has left the MDT dangerously undercut. Pic by Kim.

We pondered that face full of blood walking along, turning in and out of small tributaries, crossing bridges, following the blue blazes. Hmmm. Was he on blood thinners? Had he run into a low hanging limb? Then, bzzzzz. The trail wound around into a floodplain field of emerging corn. The buzzing was coming from the field. I looked down and around, realized we were in the midst of a large gregarious ground nest of miner bees (Andrena). Thousands of them. Their solitary tunnel nests were all freshly opened and it appeared they were flying either freshly hatched themselves or busy building new nests to lay eggs and provision. These bees were very calm, not at all disturbed by our standing in the middle of their nest site. It takes a lot to make an miner bee sting, but to the uninitiated wanderer, walking out into this field could have been a terrifying experience. Luckily Kim and Hilary were as enthralled as I was and nobody screamed and ran. Maybe that's what happened to that bloody guy...

The more you look, the more you see. A field of miner bees tunnels!

Other interesting nesting things included fish. We came across these bluegills guarding a series of well constructed sand nests in the bed of the creek. The shallow sand pans, or bowls, are excavated and guarded by the males who, like some birds, hope that it attracts a female. If a chooses his the nest, they have fish sex. The eggs sink to the bottom of the bowl and the male lightly fans them with sand to cover them. Then he guards and she swims away. Stay-At-Home Dad of the fish world.

Bluegills make beautiful sand bowls where young are hatched...

...and Daddy bluegill guards!

After we admired the bees and fish we continued south along White Clay Creek. An elegant northern water snake swam alongside us. I could watch a snake swimming all day. What beautiful animals. Somewhere along the bank a baby beaver called for its mom. "Whelp!' it cried for momma to come back. I'm sure she was very close, watching us go by. It wasn't until we were almost to our first break spot at the nature center that we realized we'd been walking on a 'closed trail' since the signage was posted for hikers coming the other way. Oh well - we do things backwards anyway.  Oops.

We thought the trail looked kinda dangerous. Who knew?

We took our break at the Chambers House Nature Center in the Delaware half of the park. The Chambers House, a restored Quaker farmhouse once presided over 250 acres of farmland. Built by early Quaker settlers, it is a fine example of  a sturdy brick and stone structure used now  for programs, the library, classroom, and volunteer activities. Today, according to Christie, the volunteer coordinator, park volunteers had conducted a National Trails Day hike and it had been well attended. The old park ranger in me wanted to ask her about program numbers and enforcement issues and rerouting of the storm-damaged trail and if any reports of an old guy with a face full of blood running  north of the border. But I didn't do that to her. See? She's smiling, so you know I didn't. 

Christina Palmer, Volunteer Coordinator, White Clay Creek State Park.

 From the Friends of White Clay Creek State Park website:  

According to John Whiteclay Chambers II, a Rutgers University history professor and descendant, "In 1713, a yeoman farmer in Yorkshire named John Chambers, seeking to escape from religious persecution of Quakers in England, sold his farm and sailed with his family to William Penn's 'Holy Experiment' in Pennsylvania." 

Thinking back on Quaker history, this area was considered wilderness by the early settlers of Swede, Dutch, and German descent, though the land was already occupied by Lenni Lenape people, a native group of fishermen and horticulturalists. The English Quaker farmers, following the Swedes and Dutch, pushed farther into the western woods and certainly came to know and admire the native farmers. Many farm journals describe the friendly relations between Quakers and Indians, each learning from the other in trade and industry. But by the time Mason and Dixon arrived some 150 years after early settlement,  relations between native people of the Mid-Atlantic and some colonial factions had become very strained. Even violent. Especially violent, much to the dismay of the surveyor and the astronomer.

The Quaker Chamber family built this home in the early 1800s on the Clay Creek Hundred.

Today we are close to the Twelve Mile Circle boundary that defines northern Delaware,  drawn with its center on the cupola at the New Castle courthouse in 1750. The arc makes for a strange wedge of land, not surprisingly called The Wedge. This tiny bit of land was still being contested by Maryland and Delaware as late as the 1930s. We hoped to find an arc stone today, somewhere along the park's many side trails and after our Chambers House visit, we got back to the trail in search of it.



Although the MDT crosses back and forth over state boundaries in the first thirty miles, it really doesn't follow precisely the actual Mason Dixon Line. But there's plenty to remind the hiker that the you are either coming or going into another state. What the trail does well is to remind us of how divided we were as the path wanders near and through places that defined not only disputed boundaries but the ground on which we fought - whether between continental armies, immigrant and native people, colonials and the Crown.

Leaving Pennsylvania and coming into Delaware.



We are either coming or going...
On a side trail to find the Arc Stone that marks the boundary of DE and PA.


At the time Mason and Dixon were planning to begin their work, they stayed at a Quaker farm not far from here to test and adjust their delicate surveying and stargazing instruments which had, thankfully, made it across the Atlantic undamaged. These were precise tools, beautifully crafted and incredibly elegant. Mason and Dixon had been hired to define and mark the Twelve Mile Circle, lay the tangent line, establish and mark the north line (MD/PA), and correctly demarcate the 39°43' parallel. They used the best instruments possible, some of them made especially for this work. Their efforts stand today as exquisitely precise, regarded by modern surveyors as (pun intended) monumental.  We found the side trail to the arc stone and made the steep climb up. Compared to the level floodplain trail and road walking these past three weekends, this was our first mountain!

An arc stone on the Twelve Mile Circle!

On top of the arc stone, a surveyor's radius and tangent.

The testing, adjusting, and planning took weeks. During this time Mason and Dixon worried about the violence occurring close by, as did their Quaker hosts. The host farm was only a few miles south of a well-traveled pike that connected Lancaster to Philadelphia and a murderous gang called The Paxton Boys was riding to Philadelphia with the stated claim that they would kill all native people in and around the city. They'd already horrifically butchered two small family groups of Conestoga (Susquehannock) farmers near the Susquehanna River in retribution for Indian attacks made against settlers pushing into the western mountains of Pennsylvania. Ben Franklin and other city leaders organized protection for the area's many native families. For the first time (but not the last in American Quaker history) Quakers took up arms to agreed that, if need be, they would kill to protect their Indian neighbors. The violence of these weeks shocked Charles Mason, a Quaker himself. Mason interrupted the survey in order to travel to Lancaster and pay tribute to the murdered families. He visited the sites of the Conestoga massacres and prayed there. His journal entries of this period stand as the first detailed accounts of the massacre, the Paxton Gang, and their innocent victims. The experience would stay with him the rest of his life.

Walking through Newark is the same as walking through the University of Delaware campus.

Our walk continued for many more miles and we jumped off the MDT to take a rail-trail into Newark to see the sights of alumni weekend. Had we stayed with the MDT it would have meant another several miles of walking through housing developments. The downtown area was much more interesting. All the eateries and pubs were packed, but the Main was blissfully post-graduation empty. The colonial feel of this old campus juxtaposed against the busy-ness of a modern college town in celebration mode was quite a change from the last eight miles of our walk in the woods.

The Deer Park Tavern where Edgar Allen Poe wrote some of The Raven.

Our town walk turned towards the city park where we left the van, but not before we passed in front of the Deer Par Tavern, a historic site where many famous folks like George Washington and Edgar Allen Poe stayed. That's kinda weird, to put George Washington and E.A. Poe in the same sentence...



Sunday, June 8, 2014: Newark, DE to Elkton, MD

The second leg of Map 9 actually included about a third of Map 8 but we didn't know that until our written directions ran out on the back of Map 9 about two-thirds of the way to Elkton. The maps, as we are finding out, are a tad off and certainly you should check with the website http://www.masondixontrail.org/ to see if any trail closures or detours are listed - not all closures are listed, however, as we found out on Saturday with recent flood damaged pathways in WCC State Park. But oh well, this is what long distance hiking is about. Onward!

Entomology research ongoing at Iron Hill
Kim and I (no Hilary today - Happy Birthday Hilary's Mom!) quickly made our way into Iron Hill Park from the parking area at Folk Memorial Park. Iron Hill  features historic and pre-historic open pit ore mines utilized by Lenne Lenape (jasper)  and settler folk (iron ore). Trenches, surface quarries, and random big holes are everywhere. The University of Delaware is currently using some sites for insect and bird studies. The trails through the park were beautiful and well marked, with plenty of interpretive signs to read and old open mines to look down into.

Open pit mines were dug by pick and shovel.

Being a geology hound, I was pretty pumped to walk this area. East of the fall line, where the Piedmont's hill and valley country begins, Iron Hill is one of three prominent hills that stand out in an otherwise flat landscape. These hills are the remains of magmatic intrusions, giant bubbles of gabbro, an igneous material that rose to the surface as the North African plate collided with the North American plate during the Appalachian Mountain building period, part of the Wilmington Complex of the Cambrian - Ordovician era. Since these intrusions did not actually make it to the surface all those millions of years ago, we really can't call them volcanoes. Their (for Delaware) high slopes and domed appearance, however, gave us the impression that were hiking the flanks of an old dome.Over time, the rock and lands around Iron Hill have eroded to the sea, leaving a wanne-be volcano standing distinctly higher than the woods below.  I collected two small samples for the rock shelf at home (one for me one for granddaughter Kenzey). Very cool rock that was once very hot magma!

The deepest pits have filled with water and now bellow with bullfrogs.

From these heights, (yes, Delaware has heights!) George Washington looked out across the landscape to observe the positions of British Redcoats the day before the Battle of Iron Hill or Cooch's Bridge in 1777. Back then there were no forests like there are now. Most of northern Delaware had been stripped of its woodlands to make way for farming, logs to lumber mills, and charcoal pits for furnace fuel. Today the park is cloaked in forest and is quite lovely.

Chicken-of-the-woods!

Memorial to Bob Yost is in a beautiful spot at the top of Iron Hill.

We came out into a shady parking area and almost tripped over the Bob Yost memorial stone. Bob was a chemist with the Getty Oil Company and an active member of the Wilmington Hiking Club. He was an elder hiker when he came up with idea, but when did age ever stop a hiker? Like never. So he and some friends began to lay the trail from Chadd's Ford to Whiskey Springs, PA, in the late 70s and early 80s, following in the tradition of early 20th century footpaths that linked cultural, historic, and natural areas here in the East. The western terminus of the trail, our goal this summer, ends at the Appalachian Trail, probably the most famous of the planned Eastern footpaths, now a National Park that runs 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine. The MDT is still a work in progress and volunteers from the Keystone and Mason Dixon Trail Clubs keep a pretty good schedule of work and maintenance days. Anyone can join and help. I've volunteered on the MDT closest to where I live in Peach Bottom Township along the Susquehanna. Hard working folks and lots of fun!


An iron-colored American toad takes on the hue of the ore hill path.


Kim stands at the southern trailhead of the Iron Hill trails complex. We came from the north. Note the tiny MDT badge.

At the end of the park's trail system stands the restored Iron Hill Colored School, built along with 80 other schools in the southern PA/ northern DE region, dedicated to educating the area's African American children during the early 20th century. The school system's benefactor, Pierre DuPont, believed all children should be educated, regardless of race or class, and taught in modern, safe surroundings. He foot the bill more all 80 schools and made sure they  were not only built well, but were beautiful. Each was staffed by highly credentialed teachers, paid through an educational foundation for African American children of Delaware and Pennsylvania. Many parents of the children educated at Iron Hill School were workers in the ore mines or farm hands on local farms. The building is in pristine condition and I look forward to coming back with my sister, a historian of Eastern Shore African American history, to explore this some more.


Iron Hill Colored School.

The map said to cross the Old Baltimore Pike, which we did verrrrry carefully. It's a busy road! We crashed through a hedge where the map said a trail would be - but wasn't -out into a cul-de-sac, and followed some neighborhood streets until we came to a strange section of trail through a woodlot. There was no trail at all, actually. Kim forged ahead and followed the blazes and voila! we emerged into a sprawling power line right-of way. This became our main trail for several miles. The popping, buzzing, and snapping of electricity over our heads was pretty cool.


Blue blazes on massive power line towers.

Admiring the scale of this power line right-of-way, our main pathway for a good portion of the day's walk. Kim's pic.

One of my favorite things about long hikes are the stories we hear along the way. This was true on the AT and true on the MDT. Some folks are interested in where we came from and where we are going, and others seem to just intercept us where we are with stories of their own. We came across an industrial area that ran alongside the power line right-of-way. A parking lot of pallets, some neatly stacked and others scattered and broken, occupied the back corner of the receiving lot where big trucks delivered materials to the factory. In the middle of the pallets was a mom and her son carefully putting out cans of cat food, a huge pile of dry kibble, and bowls of fresh water. A few skittish stray cats peeped from behind the stacked pallets. Since being laid off from her job, this mom was teaching her son about how to care for a wild cat colony - but she was really teaching him a lot more. They had trapped many of the cats over the past months, and with the help of a local vet, had them spayed and neutered. Some were able to adopt out - those that could be calmed. Others disappeared into the right-of-way field. Factory workers built a cat condo for the site. Mom and son visited weekly to refresh the food and water, spending money that was surely tight to care for these wildings.  What compassion and selflessness. We visited for some time listening to their stories and their hopes for this neglected wild patch at the back of the factory. "It's the least we can do for these animals. It's what we do together to get through these hard times - our time together to do something important."

Taking care of a wild cat colony.

After our visit we noticed a change in the landscape, a change in the way the trail felt under our feet. Run-down land, poorer communities, the sound of traffic and the roar of trucks. We continued on the right-of-way for some time further through a much lived-in woods - where the homeless had  encamped over the winter and where people dumped parts of cars and heaps of trash. The map and the trail took leave of each other.

Map 9 ran out of description at the industrial area, but we still had two miles to Elkton, county seat of Cecil County, MD. We lost the blazes and made our own way here and there, through neighborhoods and rough patches of field and wood edge. Coming through a patch of trees, Kim realized where we were and mentioned "Oh, this is the crash site."   A little boy waved at me from corner. I waved back, then he was gone.

 Kim recounted how so many children perished that night in a thunderstorm over Elkton in 1963. Some died with their parents, some were flying to meet relatives in Philly and New York and were flying by themselves. A bolt of lightening ignited fuel fumes in an enclosed airspace of an empty fuel tank and the plane disintegrated in mid-air. No one survived the explosion. The debris field was four miles wide. Even today, long-retired firemen, citizens, and police officers who responded to the crash, say that what they saw and did that night, and for twelve days afterward has stayed with them ever since.


Pan Am Flight 214 Memorial in an Elkton development. 

I kept looking back for the little boy in the striped shirt. Ghost stories abound in this neighborhood, built atop part of the debris field a decade later. Off trail again, we happened to come out of the neighborhood at its main entrance, and walked right up to the monument. Had we tried to follow what was clearly an overgrown and unkempt mile of MDT, we would have missed this important marker.


Painted turtles bask at the old hatchery.

Close now to the center of town, we walked alongside the old abandoned fish hatchery and admired the great white egrets, painted, and snapping turtles lurking in and around the old holding ponds. Soon we heard the happy voices of children playing in Big Elk Creek. Kim and I had nearly paddled up the river to this spot earlier in the spring when the tide was high and our kayaks could get beyond tight spots where the creek passes through town. On our hike now though, we were weary and tired and trudged back to the car we left at Meadow Park. Our two-day back-to-back 18 mile trek had been a whole lotta fun, but we were at the end, a whole lotta sore! It was great to have two local gals along as hiking companions for this stretch. Thanks to Hilary and Kim I learned so much about an area I usually just drive through on my way to somewhere else.

Holding ponds of the old hatchery - snapping turtle heaven!


Notes:

Historical notes on the Chambers House can be found here: 

Two books on the massacre -

Brubaker, Jack. Massacre of the Conestogas: On the Trail of the Paxton Boys in Lancaster County. The History Press (2010). A book for lay readers and popular history.

My favorite of the two books is - Kevin Kenny. Peaceable Kingdom Lost: The Paxton Boys and the Destruction of William Penn's Holy Experiment. Oxford University Press (2009). A much more rigorous, scholarly treatment with a deeper historic context. (Available in Kindle, where my copy lives.)

The story of Pan Am Flight 214 is significant in aviation history. After this incident all planes were modified and designed new with features to prevent the build-up of fumes in empty fuel tanks. Family members and emergency personnel visit the monument a few times a year to refresh the flowers and to remember the lost.

This hike dedicated to Allen Browne, fellow wanderer along the MDT, who maintains a wonderful blog about his own passion for the outdoors: finding monuments, memorialized spaces, and markers and telling their stories: http://allenbrowne.blogspot.com

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mason Dixon Trail Map 10 - The Journey Begins!

Section 1/ Map 10: May 24, 2014 (9 miles) Chadd's Ford to Kennett Square, PA
Section 2/ Map 10: May 31, 2014 (9 miles) Kennett Square to Landenberg, PA


This is a trail that has been on my to-do list since - forever. It's local to me and I can jump on and off just down the road from where I live anytime. To do the MDT in its entirety, though, has been a goal of mine for a long while. It runs for 200 miles from Chadd's Ford, Pennsylvania to Whiskey Springs, PA covering, very roughly, a section of routes taken Mason and Dixon as they surveyed for the PA/DE 'Arc' and the boundary between PS/MD/VA. I've given myself the goal of completing the trail between Memorial Day and Labor Day and inviting friends along to share in my weekend walks. 


For the purposes of this blog, I'll describe our hikes according to the Mason-Dixon Trail System maps, numbered 1 through 10. Since I decided to start in Chadd's Ford, PA I'm going in reverse so will begin with Map 10. And, since I am still nursing a hurt foot from a previous hiking crash with coonhounds in the dark on cold and snowy night, I am doing the maps in two parts, at nine to ten miles a section. That said, I'll combine two hikes per post, until my foot heals completely and I can hike a whole 15 - 18 miles in a day. 

So let's start the Map 10 post with some music...




And you can sing along if you want...

I am Jeremiah Dixon
I am a Geordie boy
A glass of wine with you, sir
And the ladies I'll enjoy
All Durham and Northumberland
Is measured up by my own hand
It was my fate from birth
To make my mark upon the earth

He calls me Charlie Mason
A stargazer am I
It seems that I was born
To chart the evening sky
They'd cut me out for baking bread
But I had other dreams instead
This baker's boy from the west country
Would join the Royal Society

We are sailing to Philadelphia
A world away from the coaly Tyne
Sailing to Philadelphia
To draw the line
A Mason-Dixon Line

Now you're a good surveyor, Dixon
But I swear you'll make me mad
The West will kill us both
You gullible Geordie lad
You talk of liberty
How can America be free
A Geordie and a baker's boy
In the forests of the Iroquois

Now hold your head up, Mason
See America lies there
The morning tide has raised
The capes of Delaware
Come up and feel the sun
A new morning is begun
Another day will make it clear
Why your stars should guide us here

We are sailing to Philadelphia
A world away from the coaly Tyne
Sailing to Philadelphia
To draw the line
A Mason-Dixon Line

(Thank you, Ken)

So why is there a Mason Dixon Line anyway and why would Mark Knopfler sing a beautiful song about some guys making a line? For lots of reasons, which I'll explain as these posts go along. For starters Jeremiah Dixon and Charles Mason were hired by The Crown in 1763 and again in 1768 to delineate the boundaries between Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia (before there was a West Virginia). A bloody and senseless boundary war had been on a slow-boil  since the mid-1730s and frankly, everyone was getting tired of it and for peace-sake, needed the line drawn and marked to end the hostilities.


Gangs of defiant Marylanders plundered farms and property and murdered people they considered squatters. In retribution, angry Commonwealth settlers formed militias and took their revenge upon the Free Staters doing much the same, for over thirty years. Local authorities, tradesmen, and farmers pleaded with governors for relief. The Crown was petitioned for help which delivered two talented and very brave surveyors from the Royal Society, Mason and Dixon.  More later, now for Map 10 adventures...

Such a simple little sign for such a famous walk! Chadd's Ford, PA

On the first section hike of Map 10 (May 24, 2014)  I chose a nine mile section from the Brandywine Museum in Chadds Ford to Kennett Square, PA with a car parked at the Stateline Preserve on Marybelle Lane. Kim and Hilary joined me  and after we ran the shuttle car, we started together at the Eastern Terminus sign next to the RR tracks and west bank of the Brandywine across from the museum. It was a little sign, but it was adorned with the blue blaze with a triple blaze on the telephone pole above indicating The End or The Beginning, whichever way you hike it.

Off we go! (Pic by Kim)
First word to the wise: there is a lot of road walking to this hike, and it doesn't necessarily follow the actual boundary between PA, MD, and DE. For the most part, trail planners did their best to connect  natural areas, and thus actual trails, via the blue blaze but still be very careful on roads. We saw very little traffic on the small rural roads our first day, but crossing the bigger thoroughfares was tricky and there are no crossing signs for motorists to be alert for hikers. In some neighborhoods drivers looked at us like we were fools, unaware we were actually on a delineated trail.  A lot of folks thought Charlie and Jeremiah were fools too, only they had to contend with armed militias and very angry Indians.

Black willow point the way through the Brandywine floodplain where the trail is up on boards.
We are not far from Philadelphia where Mason and Dixon waited out a brutal winter to start their work. The south-eastern PA landscape is rolling, a mix of old farms and mill towns. This is the heartland of American horticulture, where colonial botanists from Philly and Wilmington collected American native plants and shipped them to collectors in Europe. Many 20th century country estates boast incredible botanical gardens, including Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square and Chanticleer in King of Prussia. Nurseries and gardens are everywhere.


Rail stop to check the map. Note the blue blazes on the guardrails and wall. (Pic by Kim)
Stinging nettle. Ouch. Lots of it by the river!

Native plants interested the colonists immensely. With remaining Lenne Lanape and Nanticoke nearby in the early years of European settlement, Dutch, English, German, and Swede settlers learned from the native people which plants were good for certain ailments, and which could be grown for food. Likewise, many European plants came over with the settlers, mostly by accident, on the shoes, boots, hooves, and feet of people and livestock disembarking in the Delaware ports. Our hike revealed a naturalized mix of European and native plants along the Brandywine, tucked into garden beds, and growing along roadsides.


Road walking took us through the historic heartland of American horticulture.

Beautiful farmlands, much of it in preservation programs. (Pic by Hilary)

This is Wyeth country, the landscape that inspired generations of painters. A large collection of the family work is displayed in the Brandywine Museum, where we parked our cars at the start in Chadd's Ford. N.C. Wyeth's studio is nearby as well. I could imagine him wandering these hills and fields assembling his landscapes.


"Chadd's Ford Landscape" N.C. Wyeth, 1909



 Meadows and grasslands everywhere - right out of a Wyeth painting.
Beautiful grass meadows for haying, wildflowers, pollinators, and birds.
So that I do not lead you astray with our beautiful pictures, thinking that we were hiking through this incredible agrarian landscape the whole way, most of this section was road walking. The old country roads here were built for horses and carriages originally and not much has been done to widen some of them for modern cars and trucks. Meaning, little or no shoulder on which to hike, and high berms to jump up on. There were several times we had to hop into the woods to make room for cars.


Kim (ahead) and me (following) on edgy road edge. Cheryl's pic.

The second leg of Map 10 (May 31, 2014) took us through a short section of woods starting at the Stateline Preserve and through a variety of housing: a two hundred year old mill town, ticky-tacky developments, McMansionboros, and elegant gentrified estates. All of it by road. Hiking partners today included Kim who has now become the pro at finding blue blazes and Cheryl, taking a Saturday break from leading canoe trips at a nature center in Harford County. By the end of this stretch we three were very good at hopping deftly out of the way of cars and trucks. Much more traffic than last week, but hey - we found a WaWa that had free ice and ice cold chocolate milk.

I collect photographs of Quaker Meetings so this was a great chance to sit on the cemetery wall and talk to a Friend.

This is historic Quaker country where meeting houses and Quaker schools are still as common as they were hundreds of years ago. I try to take pictures of meeting houses for my elder Friend friends, sisters Alice and Mary Ellen who live near me in northern MD and south-central PA. When we visit they like to look through my growing collection of photographs and once they requested I give a powerpoint presentation to their social group of Quaker ladies (what a hoot!) who named every Meeting and knew at least one person who was a member at each one. They know their history and communities!

Red Clay Creek complete with trout and fringed with summer phlox.

Along the way to the White Clay Creek State Park and Preserve we passed an odoriferous mushroom facility. One must remember that in northern Delaware and Southeastern Pennsylvania, mushroom facilities are common. And smelly. But hey, the finished soils are incredible for raised beds and gardens. It seemed everyone who grew lovely native gardens and beautiful flower beds had a thick top dressing of this rich black soil. All I can say is that it grows the biggest tomatoes in the world.

Landenberg, PA - the corn is coming in nicely.
The takeaway from Map 10 is 'Beware of Drivers" and don't forget to look for blazes. With summer growth now filling in the road edges and wooded trails, some of our blue blazes were hidden behind vines and understory. In a few cases, the blazes were stenciled on pathways or on the back of stop signs. We only wandered off trail a few times but it was easy to backtrack and find our way.


The finish of Map 10 at the edge of White Clay Creek State Park and the WCC Preserve. 


Kim and Cheryl hiking MDT on 5-31 to White Clay Creek Preserve.
On to Map 9 to take the MDT from White Clay Creek State Park to Elkton, finishing the 'Arc' of northern Delaware and dipping into Maryland!

Notes:

Wikipedia gives a down-and-dirty summation of the Mason Dixon Line history

For science and engineering geeks (like me) who love cartography and map-making, Edwin Danson makes the work of  Mason and Dixon a truly astounding feat, deserving of this almost mind-blowing technical account of the tools, techniques, and trade of colonial surveying: 

Danson, Edwin (2000)  Drawing the Line: How Mason and Dixon Surveyed the Most Famous Border in America. Wiley Publishing.

The map set can be purchased from the Keystone Trails Association through their online store: http://www.kta-hike.org/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1