75th anniversary of Appalachian Trail

Courtesy photo Sand castle-building at the shore takes damp sand and a skilled hand.

This summer marks the 75th anniversary of the Appalachian Trail. Thinking about this has me curious as to who was hiking it way back in 1937 and what they wore. If you think about how technical clothing and footwear has gotten in just the past ten years or so, I mean, back in the late 1930s and early 40s, I bet they had blisters! And athlete’s foot and wounds and who knows what else, right? There was no Gatorade or PowerBars or waist packs to carry water bottles. Sunscreen wasn’t invented until about five years after the Appalachian Trail, so for the first five years everyone got sunburned. Even when it was invented it certainly wasn’t as good or as waterproof as it is today. What did they wear, what did they carry…sort of fun to think about, huh?

Since it was opened in 1937, about 99 percent of it has been redone. You can get a full list of celebration related activities going on at various points of the trail on their website, which is AppalachianTrail.org. On that site, you can also get a commemorative 75th anniversary poster and other goodies if you want to make a donation to the AT.

Closer to home, not quite as long as the AT and a combination of driving and walking, we have the Red Clay Valley Scenic Byway. Take a Sunday drive down some of the prettiest roads around on this series of 28 roads in northern Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania. Offering views of rolling hills, upland forest, meandering creeks and pastoral flood plains that together offer an experience like no other, the byway is located between Routes 48 and 52.

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The mission of this alliance is to preserve and protect the 28 roads of the byway, which together comprise an interdependent network closely linked to the Red Clay Creek and its watershed area. Recently, signs were erected at several locations on the byway to promote greater awareness of this scenic treasure. Travel the Red Clay Valley Scenic Byway and you will discover the remnants of a 19th century grist, snuff and paper milling industry at Yorklyn. From Route 82 you can glimpse the mature forest and steep slopes of the Red Clay Ravine Natural Area. Get out of your car and get on board the Wilmington and Western Railway for fabulous views of the Red Clay Valley beginning at Greenbank, all the way to Hockessin. Points of interest along the byway include Delaware Nature Society’s Ashland Nature Center. The center features four self-guided nature trails on 81 acres of woodlands, meadows and marsh. Also on the byway is the Mt. Cuba Center, dedicated to the conservation of Appalachian Piedmont plants. Visitors can enjoy guided tours of this 630-acre estate.

And last week I wrote that I would have information on sand castles this week. Well, we had a great time at the event. We had a demo by SandMan Matt from The Travel Channel’s show “Sand Masters.” He and his wife are lovely people, but his main point was that this is a task that takes patience and practice more than skill. Patience-something my little guys don’t have much of! But he did leave us with a few usable tips:

Use wet, packed sand. Wet it and pack it until you can’t wet it and pack it any more! A dry, loose base will crumble and fall.

Start at the top and work down. Go slow. The best castles are about building up a strong base and then sculpting down.

Fine sand works best.

It takes the right tools and lots of practice. As SandMan Matt said, “I can give you the best baseball bat, but you still need lots of practice to become Mickey Mantle.”

Most of all, have fun! For more of Matt’s tips, visit CanYouDigIt.com or what Sand Masters on the Travel Channel. This is an outdoors activity that your whole family can do.

As always, contact me at LisaLightner@yahoo.com or Facebook.com/KPGreatOutdoors.

Outdoor enthusiast Lisa LIghtner lives in Avondale.