Jenn's Journey North

Philly Fun with the Freewalkers

Charles Updike, our Freewalkers leader for the weekend, Mary Beth Powell, River Relay Program Manager, Lisa Watts, Communications Manager at ECGA, and Paul Kiczek, Founder of Freewalkers Credits: Jennifer Popper
Freewalkers getting ready to start the Liberty Lights Walk Credits: Lisa Watts
Signing in for the Friday evening talk at the Fairmount Water Works Credits: Jennifer Popper
Credits: Jennifer Popper
Credits: Jennifer Popper
Dennis Markatos-Soriano, Executive Director of the ECGA Credits: Jennifer Popper
Credits: Jennifer Popper
Recognizing Local Heroes Credits: Jennifer Popper
A Friday night walk through Philadelphia Credits: Jennifer Popper
A Friday night walk through Philadelphia Credits: Jennifer Popper
A Friday night walk through Philadelphia Credits: Jennifer Popper
A Friday night walk through Philadelphia Credits: Jennifer Popper
A Friday night walk through Philadelphia Credits: Jennifer Popper
Credits: Jennifer Popper
Credits: Jennifer Popper
Flying high now!!!! Credits: Jennifer Popper
Credits: Jennifer Popper
Credits: Jennifer Popper
Credits: Jennifer Popper
Daniel Paschall, East Coast Greenway Mid-Atlantic Coordinator, looks on as Todd speaks. Credits: Jennifer Popper
Sanctuary Lofts. With cathedral ceilings. Giggle. Credits: Jennifer Popper
Credits: Jennifer Popper
Bartram's Garden Credits: Jennifer Popper
Credits: Jennifer Popper
Credits: Jennifer Popper
Lining up to kayak at the East Coast Greenway River Relay event at Bartram's Garden Credits: Jennifer Popper
The East Coast Greenway team!
The East Coast Greenway's River Relay also included planting trees at Bartram's Garden Credits: Jennifer Popper
My tree. It looks crooked. Credits: Jennifer Popper
Paul Kiczek plants a tree Credits: Jennifer Popper
Credits: Jennifer Popper
Credits: Jennifer Popper
Credits: Jennifer Popper
Credits: Jennifer Popper
Eastern State Penitentiary Credits: Jennifer Popper

Jenn's Journey North took a southbound turn to Philadelphia. This past weekend was spent attending events that celebrated the East Coast Greenway, and it didn't hurt that the celebrations included some of my favorite Freewalkers, too.

The East Coast Greenway is the nation's longest biking and walking route.  Their River Relay is a 25th birthday party, with events running from Calais, Maine down to Key West, Florida, running through October. 

On Friday, after a quick stop at my hotel, I headed to Fairmount Water Works that overlooks the Schuylkill River.   The building is a "National Historic Landmark, a Civil Engineering Landmark, and a National Mechanical Engineering Landmark, and was designed and constructed to provide safe, clean drinking water to a city on the cusp of remarkable growth."

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As I was signing in for the event, I had the pleasure of meeting Bob Spiegelman, who is on the Board of Trustees for the East Coast Greenway Alliance (ECGA).  He's based in Concord, NH, and he said to keep in touch as my walk nears... see you next summer, Bob!

I was so happy to meet Lisa Watts in person.  As the Communications Manager for the ECGA, she has been my point of contact since I came up with the idea to walk from New Jersey to Maine (Note, I leave on June 2, 2018!)  Up to this point, we had only spoken on the phone or emailed each other.

The evening's program included remarks from Linda Mead, on behalf of the Alliance for Watershed Education, Dennis Markatos-Soriano, Executive Director of the ECGA, and Shawn McCaney, Executive Director of the William Penn Foundation.  Sonja Michaluk, a 14-year old wise beyond her years, was recognized as the featured Local Hero.

Once the program concluded, the Freewalkers gathered for the Liberty Lights Walk to learn about our route for the evening.  Thanks to Charles Updike for leading the charge!  The nighttime Philly sights were a treat.

Saturday included a chance to participate in multiple River Relay events.  First up for me, after leaving my hotel, was attempting to maneuver around a 5K event to meet the Freewalkers!  I'll give a shout out here to the security guard who let me climb through a fence to pass.

The first walk of the day was a five-miler along the Schuylkill River boardwalk, and the Gray's Ferry Crescent Trail, ending at Bartram's Garden. At Bartram's, the ECGA made it possible to kayak - I passed on this, of course - or to get your hands dirty by planting some trees. 

The Freewalkers were on a deadline to meet additional walkers at 30th Station for the 15-mile Philly Freedom Walk, so we left our ECGA friends, and jumped on the trolley.  After we arrived at the station, I took a quick trip to the food court to restock on water (and maybe a cookie, too), and then we were off for another tour of the city.  Some of the points of interest were on the previous night's tour, yet it was still fresh.  Again, kudos to Charles for leading us!

Sights included Drexel and the University of Pennsylvania where a football game was about to start, a walk back along the Schuylkill River boardwalk, Boathouse Row, Azalea Garden, and the Water Works.  Another stop at the Art Museum, and the sun was beating down on us.  Chris, a new Freewalker who was visiting from Connecticut, decided to run the stairs like Rocky.

Our walk continued, heading towards Eastern State Penitentiary, which at one time held Al Capone.  These days, you can take a tour, or attend one of their signature events, Terror Behind the Walls and Bastille Day.

As we headed towards Logan Circle, I decided I'd hang up my walking shoes for the day.  Five miles in the morning, six miles in the afternoon, and an almost two hour drive home still ahead of me, I was done.

If you have the chance to do so, do walk or bike along the greenway in your neck of the woods.  There are maps by state on the ECGA website.  And you'll never be disappointed on a Freewalkers jaunt!


A walk on the East Coast Greenway from New Jersey to Maine.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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