Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Ryan Miller, Glenn Willen, and I set out for Raccoon Creek State Park on Sunday to hike the beautiful loop trail that runs a perimeter around the main part of the park. The trail pinches together at the midpoint, near the visitors' center and park office, like a giant figure eight. This is quite convenient because it allows hikers to hike either section of the loop or the whole trail. The day was brutally hot and humid but thankfully breezy. Ryan and I hiked the whole trail mainly to train for the upcoming 34-mile Rachel Carson Trail Challenge, and Glenn was along for the first half for what turned out to be a vigorous hiking experience. (Glenn was very generous by allowing Ryan and I to continue, meeting up with him at the parking lot after the second half of the total loop.) Ryan and I stopped for a rest next to the lake and watched several dogs (as well as their masters!) play in the water. In that heat, not getting to jump in was truly torture, but some of the dogs shared the cool refreshment by shaking off right next to us. One of the dogs' owners offered us both a cold soft drink to keep us refreshed. It turned out that he's a skydiver who jumps at a dropzone that I and a few of my friends have been intending to check out for quite some time--so I'll probably run into him again sometime in the future! Throughout the day, discussions about Santa Claus, zombie movies, music, pest control, the oil crisis, and roommate experiences (both good and bad) kept us entertained. In terms of wildlife, we saw at least three toads along the trail, several very impressive ant mounds (as well as an "ant interstate" that followed the trail for a few hundred yards), and some birds. We heard more chipmunks than we saw.

-M. Jehn