Friday, August 31, 2012

Downstream, Part 1

Harper's Run, a Pennypack tributary in Lorimer Park.
A week ago last Saturday (August 25), my wife Mary and I made a six-mile loop hike along the creek downstream of the Pennypack Preserve.  Two miles downstream of the southern preserve boundary, the creek flows into Lorimer Park, a Montgomery County park, and then on into Philadelphia Philadelphia's Pennypack Park on its way to its mouth at the Delaware River.  We parked in the county park and walked the streamside path downstream into the city.  Once the creek crosses the city line, it is bordered by two paths, a dirt footpath on its east bank, and a paved bicycle path along its west bank.  We decided to walk the dirt footpath downstream, cross the Krewstown Road bridge, and return upstream on the paved bike path.  I'm going to divide my account and pictures into two parts: the views from our walk downstream first, followed by a second, shorter post recounting our walk back to the car.  

A beautiful mature oak near Harper's Run; alas, not long for this world.
An old oak alongside the dirt footpath in Pennypack Park
Waiting for David to take yet another picture
Scarred and abused - oh so typical in the city park
Healing below the graffiti line
The inhabitant was perched at the mouth of the web, but ran for cover when I stopped to capture its image
Feather of a Downy or Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens or P. villosus) on an American beech log
Near our first road crossing along the trail (Verree Road) at the Pennypack Nature Center, we came upon this stagnant stone-walled spring pool.  Fans of the CBS television show Cold Case set in Philadelphia might remember an episode in which a victim was found drowned in a woodland pond.  The scene was filmed at this spot.

Before it was dammed in 27 places during European colonial times to generate water power for milling, Pennypack Creek historically hosted an anadromous run of shad; the dams quickly put an end to that, since the first dam, built in Holmesburg just two miles upstream of the creek's mouth, blocked the creek (and the shad run) in 1697.  Today, only two dams remain in place, the others having been breached by floods or removed intentionally so that shad runs could be restored.  This dam, a very popular recreational and aesthetic feature known locally as "The Falls" of the Verree Road Dam, is failing of its own accord - the creek is quickly eroding around the east side of the dam.

Significant erosion around the east side of The Falls dam
Throughout the park, there are beautiful native stone bridges and walls. As in so many urban parks in the United States, the city just doesn't have the money to take care of these cultural, historic and aesthetic amenities, and they are disappearing through neglect and vandalism.  This is the rampart wall of a bridge over a tributary called Paul's Run.

View downstream from the Paul's Run bridge
A streamside sycamore with an unusual growth habit
"The Scream" au natural
"The Yelp"
White Wood Aster (Aster divaricatus)
Rock art on a creekside boulder
Mile-a minute weed (Persicaria perfoliata) growing alongside the creek and perforated by imported biocontrol weevils (Rhinocominus latipes).  This annual vine is an invasive alien scourge in the Mid-Atlantic states.
One of our favorite reaches of the creek
A sandy run below the rocky riffle
Just downstream of this point, we crossed the Krewstown Road bridge and returned upstream.  Stay tuned...

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