Ridley Creek State Park

Happy New Year!

My first post of 2016 is about our final Pict family outing of 2015 when we went for an exploration of Ridley Creek State Park.  Located near Media, the park comprises over 2000 acres of land but we confined this first visit to one particular trail.  We had visited the adjacent Tyler Arboretum in April and I must admit that I was bracing myself for similar levels of moodiness from the four boys.  However, the opportunity to roam free, climb trees, battle with sticks, and generally be their feral little selves meant they were stunningly well behaved and agreeable throughout the trek.

We parked up by the Jefford Mansion, a beautiful stone built building from the early twentieth century which now serves as the park offices, and the kids immediately scurried off into what was a cross between an artificial grove and a portico of trees surrounding a formal fish pond.  They soon had it turned into an imaginative playground where heroes were doing battle with mythological monsters, twigs brandished, roaring, and racing around.

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From there, we ventured into the woods.  The ground was still sodden and boggy from the previous night’s deluge of rain but we all squelched along quite happily.  There were lots of good climbing trees which the boys were soon scaling and even better were lots of felled trunks that they could shimmy along.  It soon became a competition to see who could complete an obstacle course of tree trunk running in the quickest time.  The smallest Pict is nimble, fleet of foot, and quite frankly impulsive and reckless so he easily won each and every time.

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It was because of the 6 year old’s intrepid ways that we stumbled across the highlight of the trip.  We were veering off the demarcated path anyway in order to run along logs but the wee one plunged off into the woods even further and, in doing so, chanced upon the skeletal remains of an adult white tail deer. Well, you would think my boys had just discovered pirate treasure!  They have inherited my macabre fascination for decay and mortality so the fault / credit is almost entirely my own but it seems my children are rarely happier on an outdoor adventure than when they stumble across a corpse.  The body parts were spread across the clearing so they had fun trying to find all the different parts, like a slightly gross jigsaw puzzle.  The skull was the easiest fine after the spine and rib cage but the two middle boys literally jumped up and down with glee when they found the two parts of the mandible.  Each hoof was located and identified at which point my youngest son declared that the deer must be a lady because it had high heels.

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Animal autopsy over, we kept on with the looping track.  We found interesting fungi, including a lump of gelatinous brown slime, like a tree hugging sea anemone, but we did not spot any more wildlife, either live or dead.  Wandering through the woods with four loud children never presents the best opportunity for spotting critters but perhaps there was not much to encounter at this time of year anyway.  I will just tell myself that.  It is a lovely park so we will have to return in the Spring when the flora and fauna are bursting with new life once more and perhaps we can explore another trail.

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16 thoughts on “Ridley Creek State Park

  1. Pingback: Ridley Creek State Park | GiJournal

  2. What a great trip. I am familiar with this park – before I was sick, we went there often to run (the four mile paved loop ) and once I did a trail run race through the woods. What a totally fantastic park and you will love visiting again in the summer. Having said that, I think you guys did a fantastic job exploring and the deer remains – well, that’s just something you don’t get to see too often (love the high heels comment). Happy 2016.

      • I think you would like the Pennypack Ecological Preserve, then, I don’t know if I mentioned it. Companion to my favorite Pennypack Trail – they are in the same area.

      • Oh yes. You have recommended that before. We really should go and explore there. We generally need to do a lot more feral, outdoorsy stuff as we do miss it. I think we have spent two years getting reacquainted with the type of things urban and suburban areas have to offer and now it is time to build some more of the rural stuff back in.

    • Ha ha! We were all wondering how the 6 year old had identified the gender of the deer. I was about to be impressed by his biology knowledge and then he said the high heels thing and we all dissolved into laughter.

      We used to find deer carcasses quite often in Argyll, including one that was so old it was bleached. We also found a roe deer skeleton in the New Forest. Sadly we see lots of dead deer on the roads around here but this was only our second skeleton.

  3. Pingback: Altered Book of Monsters – #72 – Wendigo | Pict Ink

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