Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Give Me Liberty, or Give Me - a Hike!

I don't have freedom from bills, so I work. Because weekends are so busy with marathon training and other things, I am trying to take hikes where I find them. Yesterday, I took the second of my lunch break hikes, the first being a couple of weeks ago along the floodwall. For that hike, I essentially went south of where I work, so yesterday, I went east, along the canal, through Shockoe Bottom, and up to Libby Hill. It was four miles long and took an hour and 15 minutes, including time to eat lunch and take a bunch of photos, shared here.

This is part of the lock system to Richmond's old canals, now under a highway. Cool arch.

The first part of my walk started in a similar fashion to the floodwall walk, going along the canal. The highrise condo building is one of several pretty new ones along the river and the canal, and is very nice.

After walking through Shockoe Bottom near the river, I came on these former tobacco warehouses now renovated into condos and restaurants.

During Team in Training runs in this area, we used to call these the "Cardiac Stairs." I ran up them two at a time.

I headed east up Libby Hill, which has a nice view of the distant downtown.

It was this view of the James River that led to Richmond's name, as it reminded the founder of the view of Richmond on the Thames back in England.

This monument to Confederate Soldiers and Sailors, on top of about a 70 foot column, has a commanding view.

Spring is very much in evidence throughout this part of Virginia.

It was in this church that Patrick Henry gave his famous speech. From here, I headed back towards downtown, down a very steep path and another long set of stairs, and headed west towards Shockoe Bottom.

This house is reputed to be the oldest in Richmond. Whether it is or not, Edgar Allen Poe once lived here, and it is now a museum to him and his work. I've not been in a few years. Will I go again someday? Perhaps; I won't say nevermore.

On the fringe of downtown, the old train station sits.

A couple of years ago, this moving reconcilliation monument was built here, to commemorate and remember Richmond's role in the horrific slave trade. Slavery is legally a thing of the past in this country, but we must remember that it is alive and well in many forms (sexual, agricultural, manufacturing, commercial) all over the world.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Flood Wall Walk-About

Recently, a combination of winter weather, half-marathon training, and life has interfered with doing much hiking. So I decided to take opportunities when I can, even if they are not grand mountain hikes. My knees still hurt from Saturday's six mile hilly run, and I decided to walk today instead of run. I came in early to work so I could take a long lunch, and made it into a bit of training (fast walking) and a bit of hiking (seeing some cool things in the urban environment). I walked 4.7 miles along Richmond's canals and floodwall, making a loop along and across the James River. Here are some photos and descriptions of sights along the way.

From my office, I walked about a half mile to Brown's Island, a small island on the James. Here is a view of the former Tredegar Iron Works, now the Civil War visitor center.

On Brown's Island is this nice statue, a monument to the African Americans who helped run commerce on the rivers and canals of Antebellum Virginia.

Looking north and upriver from Brown's Island is Belle Island, former site of a prisoner of war camp in the Civil War and post-war industrial developments. Now it is a nice hiking spot and natural area. I did a prior hike here and also used it for a marathon training route last year.

A little foot bridge extends into the river, and has quotes from people about the fall of Richmond in April, 1865. This one from President Lincoln is poignant, as he was assassinated less than two weeks later.

I left Brown's Island and walked along the canal, reaching this point on the Canal Walk, with a green cross as a monument to Christopher Newport, discoverer of the future site of Richmond, in the background.

Part of the flood wall starts here. Note the big watertight door that can be dogged shut in a flood to protect the downtown.

This is part of a race in a lock connecting a couple of the old canals. There is amazing stone work in this section.

Before the Civil War, slave Henry "Box" Brown had a white friend nail him into a box and ship him by rail to Philadelphia and freedom. This site along the canal is a monument to him and his courage to undertake this. The "box" is the exact size: 3 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet.

Part of Richmond's canal walk as I looked back towards the 14th street bridge. I returned from the "Box" Brown monument to cross the river on that bridge.

Old railway cars along the canal.

From the 14th Street Bridge, one can see the great blue heron rookery in the distance - see the nests up in the trees behind the old abandoned bridge? I crossed the James on the 14th Street Bridge, also called the Mayo Bridge.

Once I crossed the James, I prepared to climb up on the floodwall for the walk upriver. First, I saw this nice monument to diversity, acceptance, and inclusion at the base of the floodwall.

Here is a view of the amazing rapids from the top of the floodwall. You can see why Chris Newport stopped at this point. His boats could go no further. These rapids are why Richmond exists here. In the distance is the Manchester Bridge, on which I walked back to the other side of Richmond towards the end of my hike.

Here is the path along the top of the floodwall, looking north at the Manchester Bridge.

View from the top of the floodwall looking back south (downriver) from where I had been a short time ago.

View back to downtown Richmond, where I will return via the Manchester Bridge in the right of this photo.

As I crossed the bridge, I had a nice view of the floodwall upon which I had so recently tred. Soon it would be back to the office, but with the memories and physical benefits of my nearly five mile leg stretcher.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Laps Around Echo Lake

I saw my first crocuses today, at the Ginter Botanical Garden, and I saw some forsythia in bloom as well. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera during that walk on a pretty early spring day. But I love crocuses and always have. Since I have been a child, I associate them with the end of winter. And this is one year I am ready for the end of winter.

After yesterday’s five mile run for Team in Training practice, I decided to run again today. I need to get into a regular workout habit instead of my two days one week, four the next, one the week after that, and so forth. So I took advantage of warmer weather in the late afternoon to get in a run that was also kind of a hike. It beats getting up at 4:30 AM to do it!

Echo Lake Park is a small park about two miles from my house. People come to walk, fish, use the playground with their kids, have a cookout, and feed the geese. There is a trail of about three quarters of a mile that circumnavigates the lake. It is a pretty little trail, and I often can see wildlife, although today, a kingfisher and the always present Canada geese was the sum total.

I did six laps for a total of about 4.25 to 4.5 miles. I would walk the first quarter mile of each lap and then run the rest. It took me 49 minutes, including stopping for a few photos. I enjoyed being out in shorts and a purple Team in Training tee after yesterday’s cold start to the run. The Monument Avenue 10K is only 20 days away, and I am not in shape for it. I can run that distance, but not in the time I had wanted. So I need to just enjoy the experience of it and not worry about the time. It is not like I would be winning the race.

I know at some point before the Seattle Half Marathon, a five or six mile run will seem easy, but I am not at that point right now. My legs were tired at the end of the run, and I took extra care to stretch out.

The lake is a popular attraction at this park:

I once saw a huge beaver along the shoreline of this stream which feeds Echo Lake, but not today:

The footpath is 3/4 mile long and loops around the lake. It is crushed gravel and easy on the feet, and has some small climbs and dips:

The goose is on the alert as his mate grazed nearby: