Crystal Ridge Memories: A Walk In “Baisley’s Strippin”

It was another cold and sunny day the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  I  decided to again return to my dad’s birthplace, the tiny patch town of Crystal Ridge. Some of my earliest memories were riding on the this, the only road, into the tiny town to visit my grandmother.   It was bumpy  road and we called it the “rollercoaster” ride.clouds above road to Crystal Ridge

I  parked my jeep alongside the  road  just outside of the town and walked  into the tiny village of Crystal Ridge. 

This area has recently underwent a massive mine reclamation project. . The many  towering culm and slag banks and deep strip  mines along the road when I visited as a child are  gone. Reclamation area near Crystal Ridge

I was soon on the only street in this small former coal   town were all the homes were owned by the mining companies.  There are   maybe a dozen homes remaining here. It was, and still is a close knit community.  high clouds on road to Crystal Ridge

I walked past my dad’s house which was now hidden with overgrown trees.  I remember the many visits here in my early years, including Holy Supper on Christmas Eve. My grandmother had a coal stove and there  was no indoor toilet. Yep, we had to use an out house and it was not pleasant. old mining house in Crystal Ridge

I reflected on my own memories, and the many stories my dad and his six sisters told me about their childhood in Crystal Ridge. They were very poor but very happy.   I continued my walk up the hill that led to the path to the large strip mine behind the homes on the south side of the town.road along stip mine

My dad called it “Baisley’s Strippin” and I heard many tales about his adventures in this huge strip mine. He ice skated, sledded and searched for crystals here. I researched the local newspapers and found no reference to “Baisley’s strippin” so if any of my readers have any information on the name please share with me. I did discover that one of the first strip mine  in the entire Anthracite region began here in 1882, as evidenced by this link to an article I found. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/15777769/the_hazleton_sentinel/strip mine

I descended the steep, slate covered  slope of the strip mine, as I did many years ago when my dad first took me down here to look for quartz crystals. The entire area was noted for the large crystals found here and my dad had some very large and beautiful ones he gathered while living here. steep slope of strip mine

It seems most of the crystals, and large deposits of sulphur have been gathered by geologists and collectors over the years. I did not find any on my recent hike. A quick Google search of  Crystal Ridge found some of the beautiful specimums found here. http://www.johnbetts-fineminerals.com/jhbnyc/mineralmuseum/picshow.php?id=28176Trees and boulders in strip mine

I decided to follow the  remains of the roads that winded there way down to the bottom of the “strippin”.rock formations in strip mine

Along the way I walked by huge boulders and some of the trees that were able to grow on the steep banks of the strip mine.large boulders in strip mine

Over the years the residents of Crystal Ridge disposed of their thrash by throwing over the banks of the deep strip mine.  I found many old items down here and wondered how old they were. Like this old chair. Who last sat on it? When and where was it purchased? How did it get down here?

Or who wore this shoe?old shoe in strip mine

Or who cooked with this this old pot. How many meals were cooked in it? Was it a large or small family? So many question. that I have had finding old “junk” since I was a child. 

I made it to the bottom of the strip mine and imagined my dad and his friends building a large fire here so he and his sisters and the kids in the patch town could warm up as they  ice skated. 

My dad told be his and his friend once took a sled ride down this steep bank. He said sparks flew up from the sled as it hit rocks under the snow. He said it was a  stupid thing to do. I often reminded him of it when scolded  me on some of my adventures, or should I saw misadventures. Here is a link to some more photographs of my hike in “Baisley’s strippin”. Crystal Ridge part one November 26 2017.

I made my way to this large outcrop of rock.

I have learned the enormous pressures of this twisted rock created the many crystal,s for which the town was named, over  millions of years. 

My dad said one of the most remarkable memories of his youth living in Crystal Ridge was being present and seeing and hearing the rock outcrop break off and fall into the strip mine. rock formation in strip mine

I crawled around and atop the huge boulders that fell to the bottom of the strip mine. 

It was a strange coincidence that the week after I took this hike, my aunt Betty, without knowing of my visit to Crystal Ridge, showed me this photograph of my aunt Mary and my cousin Josephine. It looks like my adventurous spirit runs in the family. I believe this photograph was made in the early 1940’s. Not much has changed.   

I continued to explore the large rock formations and  the large veins of crystal that run through some of the rock.

I walked past the outcrop of bedrock and found the source of the water in the strip mine. I was surprised to follow this stream and found that it flowed from under another outcrop of rock. 

I tried to find the source from the banks of the strip mine but was unsuccessful. I will have to look for it in the summer.

From atop the southern side of the strip mines you could look across the deep strip mine pit and see some of the homes in the village of Crystal Ridge. 

I walked along the woodlands on the south side of the stip mine and made my way back to the haul road that led to Grape Run that I hiked a few days earlier. 

Once again I reflected on my childhood memories in this small patch town as I saw the Green Ridge  skyline in the distance. And once again I felt the deep sadness that many  of those memories can no longer be shared. But, like the owners of the shoe, chair and pot I found in the strip mine, I too, will someday only be a memory. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Crystal Ridge hike part 2. 

“The most difficult journey any of us ever take in our adulthood is the return to our parents’ house. A home visit makes us recall all of the childhood events that formed us. Returning home reacquaints us with family members and our former self.” 
― Kilroy J. Oldster

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It’s Still Fall; But More Like Winter At the PPL Wetlands.

The sun, here in the Northern Hemisphere, is still four days away from it’s  farthest position south  on the  horizon.  Which, of course, means the beginning of Winter. Here in Northeastern Pennsylvania   11:28 a.m Thursday December 21 to be exact. snow and ice covered pond

The past few years our  weather has been unusually mild in December. This year, however, it has been colder with temperatures plummeting into the single digits this past week and we had  a few inches of snow. Which made for an early  Winter walk at the PPL Wetlands yesterday. snow covered evergreen plant

The waters of the canals and ponds in the wetlands are no longer covered in green  duckweed . They are now completely covered in ice and snow. snow covered pond

Last week, despite the cold, I was able to see a variety of bird species on my hike. But not a single mammal. This time I was greeted by this female white tailed deer just as I began my walk. white tailed deer in weeds

And it was one of the last mammals I saw on my hike. As I walked through my usual paths along the canals and ponds there was not much wildlife activity. snow covered path

I did come across a few downy or hairy woodpeckers feeding on the berries of the poison ivy vines. It is remarkable how a plant that is so harmful and useless to  humans provides food for the wildlife in Winter. downy or hairy woodpecker eating poison ivy berries

I also saw this male cardinal, another year long resident here at the wetlands.male cardinal in tree

As I walked toward the river lands area of the park I did not see any of the usually plentiful chipmunks. And the few squirrels I saw were very secretive and scurried quickly through the trees. I did start to see some of our birds that remain for the winter such as this bluejay,blue jay in tree

and I believe this was a black-capped chickadee. black capped chickadee in flight

I walked into the riverlands and found that Lake Took-A-While  was also  now frozen over  and snow covered. And a source of food for  blue herons, ducks, geese, cormorants and kingfishers that live here in the summer was gone. frozen snow covered lake

Most of these birds had migrated south but I still saw a few flocks of geese flying overhead, probably from the open waters of the nearby Susquehanna River. Canada geese in flight

But this too may soon be frozen,  as I saw ice already forming on the river. 

I walked back to the wetlands and saw a few more birds on the ways, including a flock of titmice,tufted titmouse on branch

 a red bellied woodpecker,red bellied woodpecker

and this flicker. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw on my walk. PPL Wetlands birds December 16 2017.flicker on branch

I didn’t find anything interesting or unusual on this hike, as I often do in the Spring and Summer, but it was still nice to get out and see the Winter wonderland of the PPL wetlands and riverlands. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike PPL Wetlands December 16 2017.black-capped chickadee in flight

“Silence can always be broken by the sound

Of footsteps walking over frozen ground
In winter when the melancholy trees
Stand abject and let their branches freeze
” 
― Merrill Mooresnow covered berries

 

 

 

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Winter Arrives Early At The PPL Wetlands

The snow that began Saturday  morning here in Northeastern Pennsylvania  continued to fall slowly all day. I awoke to find  an accumulation of about two inches on the ground Sunday morning.  Winter came early. This is not a lot of snow for us folks in the Pocono Mountains but enough to make walking difficult. I  once  looked forward to walking in the snow but not anymore.  It’s hard on my knees, back and hip and I  was sore from hike in the little snow we had on Saturday. snow covered road

Even though it is harder I will still  hike in the snow and ice. I am not one for staying indoors,  even in sub-zero temperatures.  I will try and make the best of it, and,  sometimes, actually enjoy it.  So early Sunday I  decided to head down to the PPL Wetlands to enjoy the wintery scenery and see if I could see some wildlife.ice covered pond

When I arrived at the wetlands I found the ponds and canals were now covered with  a thin layer of ice. ice covered lake at PPl Wetlands

There were no turtles, ducks or waterfowl on the ice covered waters.snow covered trail

However, unlike my walk at the rails to trails on Saturday there were  a lot of birds still active in the cold and snow. I saw a number of downy or hairy woodpeckers in the leafless trees. looking for insects under the tree bark. hairy or downy woodpecker on tree limb

There were also a few flickers in the tree tops, also searching for insects. flicker on tree branch

I also encountered  a  small flock of goldfinches feeding on some seeds.male goldfinch in winter plumage

I needed help from a birder friend to identify these birds.  I had no idea that they have such different plumage in the winter. This is a male without his brilliant golden summer coat.  male goldfinch in winter plumage

I also observed  a few tufted titmice fluttering in the trees and shrubs in the wetlands.tufted titmouse on a branch

I walked toward the riverland section of the park and saw  a few deer, squirrels and chipmunks that were to quick for  me to capture with my camera. I was able to photograph one of the many nuthatches scampering down a tree trunk.nuthatch on tree trunk

As I neared Lake Took-A-While the skies cleared and the rays of the weak December sun shone on still mainly ice free waters  of the lake. I usually see ducks, geese and cormorants  on the lake but not Sunday.  I thought they had flown south with the arrival of the snow and cold.lake in snow

I soon learned I was wrong, with regard to the Canada geese anyway. I first heard, and then saw this flock of geese flying to the riverlands from the  direction of the Susquehanna river.canada geese in flight

I am guessing they are still in the area, spending the nights of the ice free waters of the river and feeding in the farms and corn fields in the day. canada geese in flight

I decided to return to the wetlands and saw a few flocks of what, in my opinion, I consider are nuisance birds, the invasive European starling. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. PPL Wetlands birds. 

I did not see the abundance of wildlife or the many trees, flowers and berries I see in the warmer seasons but I still enjoyed the wintery scenery on my walk through the wetlands and riverlands and was pleasantly surprised with the many birds still active in this wonderful nature preserve. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. PPL Wetlands hike 

 

“Life and summer are fleeting,’ sang the bird. ‘Snow and dark, and the winter comes. Nothing remains the same.” 
― Elyne Mitchell

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Grape Run Reservoir Memories: A Walk Into My Past

The holidays will be difficult this year for me and my family.  They will never be the same after our tragic loss. We still gathered on Thanksgiving  and are fortunate to be as close as we are.  I spent a lot  time  these past weeks walking and reflecting on the event that has so changed my life.  And, on many of those walks,  found myself  near my father’s home in Crystal Ridge. haul road Crystal Ridge

On Black Friday morning I parked my jeep on the only road leading into this tiny coal patch town. I decided to  walk to the Grape Run Reservoir on the dirt haul  roads I have traveled since I was an infant. coal haul road

My father told me he took me out here for the first time to see a large “steam shovel” that was being transported to the strip mines in the area. I was only two or three years old. He said I was afraid and cried when I saw it. Here is a link to an article in the local newspaper on this “huge shovel” https://www.newspapers.com/clip/15616286/the_plain_speaker/  A few years later it was on these same roads that he took me and my brother John for mushrooms. It was here  that he first told us to “keep your  eyes peeled” as we looked for mushrooms, wild flowers or any other wonders of nature we may find. He was very happy out here.  . buildings of skyline of downtown Hazleton

So many memories came to my mind as I walked up the haul road through an area of strip mines that were recently filled and  reclaimed.  As the road made it’s way uphill I was able to see the skyline of Hazleton and recalled even more memories of my wonderful  life growing up in this city.

I walked past the large strip mine located right behind the homes in Crystal Ridge. I will have more thoughts  on my memories of  “Baisley’s strippin” in an upcoming blog post. 

I soon came to the area of the road that was “washed out” by the flood waters of the Cranberry Creek that were released by the demolition of the dam at the Grape Run Reservoir.  I was only 8 years old when it occurred but it seems like yesterday.  Here is a link to a newspaper article about this act of vandalism. https://www.newspapers.com/image/?spot=15335798

My dad drove through the washout a couple of times but, as the condition of the road worsened, it forced us to drive to  “our”  “mushroom woods” from the back road along the railroad tracks from Harwood. 

I continued my uphill walk on the haul road and recalled how I learned how drive a car on these rocky dirt roads, as did all of my siblings. Dad loved it out here and spent a lot of time with us in the “woods” and “strippins” of his youth. 

The road ends at the right of way of a railroad track. It was abandoned when we picked mushrooms out here but is now again active. . We spent many hours walking the banks out here looking for “red top’ and “cozie” bolete mushrooms.  It was on this railroad track the the explosion scene in the Molly McGuires movie was filmed. I still remember the foam coal props strewed near the filming  location. . 

I believe there was once a coal breaker out here near the railroad tracks at one time and there are a lot of old ruins in the area.

I next left the strip mine area and walked into the more wooded area where the old Grape Run Reservoir is located. 

I always get great pleasure seeing the clear blue waters of this reservoir. It brings back many pleasant memories from my own visits and the many stories my dad and aunts related to me about their childhood memories they had out here. shshore of Grape rune Reservoir

I was glad to see the remains of a recent campfire and how the folks who still come out here have kept the reservoir clean.shore of Grape Run reservoir

The waters of the reservoir were much higher  before the explosion. The dam that was blown up with stolen dynamite was never repaired. remains of Grape Rune reservoir dam

My dad often recounted how he would walk up here in the morning before work with his dog Count. The dog would always take a swim in the reservoir. My dad said he, and the other residents of Crystal Ridge wouldn’t swim here since it was their drinking water. He said the swam in a smaller reservoir nearby that used the water to wash coal. 

I sat along the shore of the reservoir, enjoying the November sunshine, and reflecting on the three generations that now, have lived, and died with memories of this small patch town. The fact that so many of them  can not now be shared  made for a  bittersweet experience. sun shinning through trees

I made my way back to my jeep, realizing none of us will be here forever and all that read these words will be gone in a 100 years.  All we can do is try and enjoy these brief moments we are given. For me, and my family, that will not be easy. But thankful for the wonderful memories we will always be. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Grape Run reservoir hike. 

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.  ~From the television show The Wonder Yearschurch steeples in distance

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Looking For Wildlife? Even in November The PPL Wetlands Never Disappoint

It was another nice November  day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania on Saturday.  The skies were mostly sunny and I knew the sunshine would quickly warm the temperature from the 34 degrees early morning start. I decided to drive  to nearby  Community Park and look for the bald eagles that have been  seen at the lake.  leafless birch trees and clouds surrounding Lake Irena

I was there three times last week with no success in seeing the eagles..  I walked around scenic Lake Irena and, once again,  no bald eagles. clouds and trees surrounding lake Irena

In fact, like on my previous visits,  there was very little wildlife at the park . I saw a few crows and heard some  black-capped chickadees in the woods.trees and clouds and lake Irena

And a  few small airplanes taking off from the nearby airport.small plane taking off above trees

I saw no other wildlife until I finally spotted a few chickadees feeding on some pine cones as I completed my walk around the lake . black-capped chickadee feeding on pine cones

It was still  a peaceful and scenic walk. However  I do love to find and photograph wildlife on my weekend walks so I decided to head to a location where I am almost assured to  see some  wild critters, the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk out Community Park. Community Park November 25 2017. leafless trees along pond

Almost as soon as I arrived at the wetlands I saw, and heard a number of different species of birds in the branches of the leafless trees. There were a number of woodpeckers high in the tree tops including this red-bellied woodpecker. red-bellied woodpecker on tree limb

And this downy or hairy woodpecker.

The trees, thick undergrowth, and abundance of water  make the wetlands a good place to find wildlife even in the Winter. I found a lot of birds feeding on the berries of a plant humans avoid , poison ivy.poison ivy covered tree

This tree was covered in a poison ivy vine. And juncos, bluebirds and black-capped chickadees were enjoying the berries of this dreaded plant.black-capped chickadee feeding on poison ivy berries

Although most of duckweed in the ponds and canals has died from the cold some of the more sheltered ponds still have a thriving growth of duckweed  and thus still  some green color. duck weed covered pond

I did not see any ducks on this hike. The mallards left a while ago but there were still some wood ducks here on my last hike a few weeks ago. I was surprised to see a few cedar waxwings remaining in the wetlands. cedar waxwing on tree branch

As I walked toward the river lands section of the park I spotted a few birds adding color to the drab November scenery. First this blue bird,blue bird on tree branch

and then this cardinal. cardinal on tree branch

I also saw a few colors remaining on the now dormant plants and trees. The red oak leaves still have a little color. red oak leaves

As do the bright red  berries of this shrub, I believe a winterberry holly

and these dark purple berries also added to the beauty of my  hike through the  wetlands even in late November. 

I walked under the late autumn sunshine to the riverlands and scenic Lake Took-A- While. There were no kingfishers, cormorants or blue herons on the duck, only a  flock of canada geese enjoying the warmth of the November sun. canada geese on lake

As I began my return walk to the wetlands I heard the shrill cry of a red tailed hawk high overhead. It was being chased by a couple of crows and quickly flew away.  I also saw another red tailed hawk land in a tree. I watched it hoping to get a better photograph but it flew off hidden by the trees. red tailed hawk in tree

In addition to the many birds I saw on my hike there were a number of chipmunk, red squirrelsred squirrel with nut on tree branch

and gray squirrels scurrying through the trees and brush. gray squirrel on tree trunk

The reptile kingdom was also present on my walk. I was surprised to find this lone turtle sunning on a log in the now cold waters.  turtle on log

And I even found a few representatives of the insect world including this caterpillar, wooly caterpiller

and even a butterfly visiting a late blooming dandelion.

As I  approached my car I encountered a flock of dark eyed juncos. These birds spend their summers in Canada and return here in the Winter.  Hence they are also known as snow birds. Hopefully they will not see a lot of snow here in Northeastern Pennsylvania this year. Snow delighted me in my younger years but not so much these days.  Here is a link to some more photographs of some of the birds I saw on my hike. PPL Wetlands birds November 25 2017.

Since I was a young child I have always been fascinated by the beauty of nature, especially of all living creatures. I have always walked the woods of my home here in Northeastern Pennsylvania looking for them.I  now get great pleasure sharing my discoveries on social media and here on my blog. It gives me great comfort in the difficult times I am trying to find my way through. And the PPL Wetlands and Riverlands never disappoint, not even in November. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. PPL Wetlands November 25 2017.

“No matter how few possessions you own or how little money you have, loving wildlife and nature will make you rich beyond measure.” 
― Paul Oxton

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A Rainy Day At The Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails

It was a cold, windy and overcast morning here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  The skies were red at sunrise and, according to the old rhyme, “Red sky at night, sailors’ delight.
Red sky at morning, sailors take warning”,                                                              we were in for some stormy weather. Rain was predicated to arrive around noon so I decided to hike close to home and drove to our local rails to trails, about two miles from my house. entrance to rails to trails

Upon arrival at the parking lot I remembered this portion of the trail was closed for  some drainage  maintenance.entrance to rails to trails

 I drove to the another parking area on trail, near the one mile mark,  where I began my hike in a light rain and sleet. The temperature was 33 degrees, and must have risen overnight since  I found ice on the puddles on  path.ice on puddle on trail

I love walking this beautiful trail, although, during the warmer months I do not get here often because I am looking for huckleberries, mushrooms or photographs  of wildlife at the PPl Wetlands and other nature preserves. tree lined trail

The trail follows the path of the old  Delaware, Susquehanna and Schuylkill,  D, S & S railroad right of way.  There is more information on the history of this railroad in a few of my prior posts which can be found using the search application  here on my blog. trial information

The lush green leaves of summer are now gone and most of the colors of fall have faded too. The only color now is the dull red leaves of the oaks, red oak leaves

and the green leaves of the pines and mountain laurel. green mountain laurel leaves

The sleet and freezing rain ended and I noticed the many pitch pines that grow along the ridge above the trail. As I mentioned in my post last week I have always loved this trees and spent many hours as a child walking, playing and camping under their branches. pitch pine leaves on trail

I walked past the Dreck Creek reservoir and the rest area where a new pet rest and watering station was just built. structure on trail

I than followed the trail  out past the heath barrens heath barrens on trail

and  the old road that led to the beryllium plant that was located near here. old macadam road on trail

I encountered little wild life on my hike. I saw a blue jay, a few black-capped chickadees, a few juncos,junco on trail

and a flock of , I think, sparrows, feeding on some birch catkins. bird on tree on trail

Out near the heath barrens there were plenty of red tea berries,tea berries along trail

and I found a few witch hazel trees. These trees are the only native tree that flowers in the fall. witch hazel blossoms on trail

I walked out to the bridge that spans the still active railroad tracks. I discovered that the rain that fell area froze on the concrete on the bridge. 

And just when I  decided to begin my  hike back to my car it began to rain again. I walked the three miles back  in a steady cold rain. It wasn’t the best day for a hike but I still loved  being outside, enjoying the peace and quiet of the Pennsylvania woods. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike today. Rails to trails hike November 18 2017 tree lined trail

“We believe that the place to start … is in our communities. Americans living together and joining in associations across the country–this is where the tremendous strength and vision of our people will be tapped. We recommend a prairie fire of local action to sweep the nation, encouraging investment in outdoor recreation opportunities and rededication to the protection of our great natural heritage. – PRESIDENT’S COMMISSION ON AMERICANS OUTDOORS, Americans and the Outdoors

 

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A November Hike On Penn Haven Mountain In Carbon County.

Last  Sunday was cold again  here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Not as cold as Saturday, but early morning temperatures were in up the mid 20’s,  still well below  normal. I wanted to hike somewhere new  so I decided  to drive south  and  headed to the Lehigh Gorge State Park in Carbon County  As I drove past the small town of Weatherly I remembered  a tract of land recently added to the state game lands.  I had hiked here once before and  decided to return to  this area.I recalled that it  once may have been owned by   a hunting club.tree lined path in woods

I remember reading somewhere about the purchase of the land by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. It is   located on the Penn Haven mountain about 2 miles south of the town of Weatherly. I tried to find the article for this post but was unsuccessful. If anyone knows the name of the hunting club please let me know. tree lined path in woods

When I hiked this trail once before a few years ago it was a cold Winter day with a deep snow cover and it wasn’t a good day to explore  the area. I hoped to see more of the trail and surrounding terrain on this hike.   I started my hike at a parking area across from the Weatherly Country Inn.waters of Indian run creek

The trail begins near India Run, a small stream that flows into the Buck Mountain Creek and eventually in the Lehigh River at Rockport. There is a small dam near the start of the trail which was covered with ice. It would probably be a good place to observe migratory water fowl in the Spring. tree lined lake

I am always curious about the names of streams. And Indian Run had me wondering if there were Native Americans in the area as I proceeded on the trail in the shade of some tall and ancient hemlock trees. large hemlock trees on trail

It was overcast when I set and there were few birds or other wildlife on the trail. It is a steady uphill climb  to a ridge atop the Penn Haven mountain. At first the woods were mainly chestnut oak and hemlock trees.

As I reached the top of the ridge there were more  red oak and pitch pines. i love the smell of the pitch pine.  There are many of these trees on the ridge near where  I grew up  and I spent countless hours playing and hiking under their contorted limbs.I love walking over their fallen needles.  pine trees and pine needles on trail

There were also many red oak trees atop the ridge, still displaying there brilliant red leaves.red oak tree

The red oak is one of the last trees put forth leaves in the Spring and the last to loose it’s leaves in the Fall  red oak leaf

And there were widespread stands of our state flower, the mountain laurel. I imagined how beautiful it would be up here when this lovely flowers was in bloom in June. mountain laurel

At the high point on the ridge three trails converged and there was a large, old  excavation site on the side of the ridge.  I wondered why it was here and what the excavated earth was used for. trees and clearing in forest

I also found some old concrete pads on the ground and it appears there was once a cabin or other structure up here.  I tried to research the history of the area with no luck and would appreciate any help as to the owners of the club and what types of buildings were up here. concrete pad

I decided to follow a trail that lead down the westerly side of the ridge. It was steep and the sides of the trail had much more rock than the hike up. 

As I followed the trail down I caught site of the Lehigh River through the trees far below the ridge.  I hoped to follow the trail toward the river to get a better view but the land was posted.

Although I would have loved to try and see the river I respected the no trespassing signs and made my way back up the trail. It was much harder going up the steep trial than it was walking down. 

I made my way up the steep upgrade and rested atop the ridge before I began my return to the parking lot. I didn’t see a lot of wildlife on my hike. I saw a few deer leaping through the woods in the distance.  There were a few black-capped chickadees fluttering about in the trees,

and I saw this pretty oven bird on my hike down. 

As I neared the dam at the beginning of the trail I saw a few sparrows in the trees along the along the water. 

I am sure there is a lot more wildlife in the Spring and Summer and I hope to return next year to find out. Even without the abundance of wildlife as I find on some of my other hiking trails, I still enjoyed the peace and quiet of the woods on Penn Haven mountain and hope to return soon. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Penn Haven Mountains hike photos.

“It’s all still there in heart and soul. The walk, the hills, the sky, the solitary pain and pleasure–they will grow larger, sweeter, lovelier in the days and years to come.”
–   Edward Abbey  

 

 

 

 

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Despite The Cold Temperatures, Plenty Of Wildlife Activity At The PPL Wetlands.

We had near record cold here in Northeastern Pennsylvania yesterday . Overnight the  clear, calm skies allowed the temperature to plummet to a frigid, and near record,  14 degrees. More like January than November. leaves on ice on canal at PPL Wetlands

I decided to hike out the PPL Wetlands again, with the   intent to take photographs of the November scenery and the now leafless trees. I felt  most of the migratory birds would be gone and only the year long residents would  still be there. As I arrived I immediately noticed the one of the effects of the cold temperatures.The lush green color of many of  ponds and canals had disappeared. The color is provided by the duck weed that grows on the waters in the wetlands and provides nourishment to the wildlife that lives here. trees and clear blue water at pond at PPL Wetland

The cold temperatures killed the duck weed in this pond. Here is another photograph of the same pond taken only a few weeks ago. trees and duck weed covered green water at pond at PPL Wetlands

Some area of the wetlands still have a thick growth of duck weed but, as the cold weather continues it will all disappear and I will anxiously wait for the first tiny leaves to reappear next April. bare trees and green duck weed covered canal

Most of the  leaves on the trees have fallen, and, leafless trees on trail

are now covering the  trails with a crunchy carpet of brown. trees on ground on trail

However there was still some color to be found in my hike in the wetlands. sun and red leaves in PPL wetlands

As I walked through the woods of the wetlands I also noticed the lack of insects. I missed the sounds of the cicadas and buzzing of the dragonflies, bees and wasps but was happy the mosquitoes and ticks will no longer plague me on my hikes. But there was still some life as I first noticed this flicker high in a tree top. flicker on tree branch

And along the canals I heard the songs of the always active black-capped-chickadees. They will be one of the most common, and active, birds in the Winter here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. They are a hardy species. black-capped chickadee on tree branch

As I was observing the waning gibbous moon in the clear blue skies,close up of waning gibbous moon

I was rewarded with a bald eagle sighting. It is not the best photograph since he or she was soaring high overhead but is always a wonderful experience to share a hike with these magnificent birds.

bald eagle soaring in blue sky

I continued my hike toward the river lands section of the preserve and encountered a few sparrows on the way. I am not good identifying these birds but I think this is a song sparrow. song sparrow in tree ranch

I was surprised to see a few flocks of cedar waxwings still in the wetlands. I must have seen three separate flocks each with almost a dozen birds. cedar waxwing on tree branch

I also saw a flock of what I think are golden crowned kinglets, my birding friends can correct me if I am wrong.golden crowned kinglet on tree stump

And I was pleasantly surprised to stumble on a flock of house finches, there must have been a hundred of them.  They like black capped chickadees are not shy birds and I enjoyed having them flutter in the trees and brush near me. house finch on branch

I made my way to the river lands and Lake Took-A-While and found a passing flock of Canada geese on the lake. 

I suspect these were not the local geese that resided here all Summer but a flock from further north enjoying a rest before they head south for the Winter. 

As is often the case had another  unusual encounter with wildlife at the wetlands. While walking along the lake I watched a young deer, a buck, jump in, and take a swim, across the lake. I don’t recall every seeing one swim before. 

On my way back to the wetlands, keeping my eyes peeled, I spotted this critter peering out from a hole in a dead tree,

either a downy or hairy woodpecker. 

I also saw a few wood ducks along my hike and a few red tailed hawks soaring overhead. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. PPL Wetlands birds November 11 2017.

I will have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised to see so much wildlife activity  on this cold November day. Usually November is the beginning of  nature’s  long Winter sleep here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  But, if you keep your eyes peeled, you never know what you will find on a walk in our  woods. I love to find out so I will come on walking.  And, of course sharing what I find with the followers of my blog. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike at the wetlands. PPL Wetlands November 11 2017. 

“Eagle’s flight of loneliness soars so high 
Around its sigh, no more alone the sky 
Other birds remain away, clouds pass by
Between shrouds of life and haze sun rays die” 
― Munia Khan

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Turn, Turn Turn, To Everything There Is A Season

And turn life does. It has been over a month now since my life has so drastically changed as a result of the untimely and tragic loss of my sister and brother-in-law. During that time  I have continued my daily walks in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania, trying to find  the peace and comfort the beauty of nature has always provided me.  I had been doing a lot of reflecting on life, death and this most unexpected tragedy.Lake Took-A-While in fall

It has been difficult for me to gather my thoughts and share the beauty I still  find on my walks, despite the pain and grief I am feeling.  But I know  Linda and Charlie would want me to continue with this blog,  sharing my love of life and adventure, now,  from such a different perspective. So I will try to  continue my message to enjoy, appreciate and protect nature during this short time we are given on this wonderful planet.  We must protect it for those who remain after we are gone, and for all future generations to come.  red berries

So I will again try and  share  some of my thoughts, and photographs, of the beauty I found  on my hikes this past month. 

Although it was a very mild month, Fall still came and the leaves donned their  brilliant colors for a few weeks. I tried to enjoy  that color on a number of walks at one of my favorite hiking trails, the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township.  The beauty of the fall foliage did provide much needed peace as I tried to understand the great loss my family suffered so suddenly . Here is a link to some more photographs from one of those  hikes. PPL Wetlands hike October 14 2017.tree lined canal covered in duckweed

This past weekend I again returned to the wetlands.  There was still some color but now most of the leaves  have fallen to the earth exposing  the bare branches of  trees and shrubs. So quickly the seasons turn. As can life.  Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike this past weekend. PPL Wetlands hike November 4 2017. bare trees in PPL Wetlands

They will wear this  Winter  attire until the warm days of Spring return. Change is the one constant in nature and life.  And, as I have learned, sometimes it comes  slowly, like the seasons, and sometimes quickly  like  an unexpected event in life.  leafless black walnut tree

I took many walks in  the beautiful Fall weather and  took some  photographs of the majesty of the fall foliage and scenery  here in Northeastern Pennsylvania this past month. Most were at the PPL Wetlands but I also walked along the shores of  Lake Irene, at a  local Community Park near my home in Hazle Township. Here is a link to some photographs from that beautiful  hike. Community Park walk October 24 2017cloud reflection on Lake Irene

Although many of the robins, catbirds, and song birds had already left our area I still came across a number of  birds on my walks. kinglet in tree branch

Some were still in the process of migrating south. like this cedar waxwing,cedar waxwing in tree branch

while other will remain for the cold Winter that approaches including the downy and hairy woodpeckers.hairy or downy woodpecker on tree

On a hike at Lake Irene last weekend I was fortunate to encounter a number of water fowl still in our area, including this pie-billed grebe,pied-billed grebe on Lake Irene

that was  accompanying this cormorant on a cool morning swim. cormorant on lake Irene

I also saw this noisy pair of Canada  geese, mallard duckstwo canada geese on lake Irene

and a flock of bufflehead ducks that kept their distance. There were reports of a bald eagle in the area, the reason for my visit but I didn’t see it. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds.  from my hike at community park. Community park November 4 2017.bufflehead ducks on Lake Irene

I didn’t see any of my favorite mammals, the black bear, this past month but I did see plenty of deer, including this late season young fawn,deer fawn leaping along path

and many chipmunks, a few voles mice and moles, and gray and red squirrels. red squirrel on tree trunk

The cooler weather eliminated much of the insect activity in the wetlands but there were a few bees, wasp and yellow jackets struggling about  in the lower temperatures, yellow jacket on a leaf

and the few dragonflies I saw also were looking tired and worn after an active summer. dragonfly on a branch

At the beginning of the month because of the unseasonably warm temperatures,  I  actually heard a few spring peeper frogs. But, as the day got shorter and colder  they, too, were silent. The many turtles that were seen along the canals in the Spring and Summer  were now rare although I did find this fellow on one of my hikes. 

As you may tell from reading this post, although my life is forever changed, I still find great joy in my hikes in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

I always have loved nature , since those first walks with my dad as a young child. Hiking in the woods and gathering mushrooms with dad  was  a “boys” thing. Dad loved walking in the woods with his four sons. I learned so much on those hikes.

But my dad   loved his only daughter, his   “little princess” and “birthday girl” They shared January 29 birthdays.  Their relationship was so  special.  Like me she was devastated when  he left us. And once again I am devastated losing here much too soon. .  We miss her and her husband so much. Life we never be the same for me, my mom and siblings, and the four wonderful children they left behind. 

I know how much they loved life and I want to let the world know this, and so as I  continue to share the beauty I find in nature, my  blog posts will now  not only be dedicated to  my dad, but also to Charlie and Linda.They loved life and each other and their memory will accompany me on all of my journeys now. Until we meet again. For we are all dancing on this earth for a short time.

 “My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. It doesn’t go away; it becomes a part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That’s just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don’t get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy.” 
― Jandy NelsonThe Sky Is Everywhere

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Ducks, Birds And Some Beautiful Scenery Along The Lehigh Canal.

We had our first frost here in Northeastern Pennsylvania last  Sunday. I awoke to clear calm skies and a 34 degree temperature.  After my usual morning walk through my neighborhood I decided to drive to Weissport and hike along the  remains of the Lehigh Canal. I was hoping to see some migrating ducks and other water fowl along the canal or Lehigh River. . tow path on Lehigh canal

The sun had warmed it up by the time I arrived and I soon found some ducks, but not the ones I was looking for. There are a number of mallard  ducks, domestic ducks and geese living in the canal near the town.male mallard duck in canal

However, it didn’t take long to find some of the wild variety. I soon found this group of common merganser  ducks swimming and diving in the Lehigh River. pair of common mergansers in Lehigh River

I watched these beautiful birds for a little while before I continued my hike along the old tow path between the remains of the canal and Lehigh River. Here is a link to some more photographs I took of the common mergansers.common mergansers on Lehigh river

There were still a few wild flowers in bloom along the canal, providing some late season color to the dying  vegetation along the trail. flowers along canal

The flowers attracted a few late season insects, including wasps and bees. And insects attract spiders including this large one I found along the path. spider on leaf

I heard and saw a number of migrating song birds high in the tree tops but it was hard to get a photograph as the fluttered and sang high over  my head. I was able to get a photograph of this catbird who was no where near elusive as the song birds. catbird on fence

I also got a photograph of this downy or hairy woodpecker. downy or hairy woodpecker

I continued on the path and enjoyed the rushing waters of the Lehigh River, although, because of the lack of rain, the river was very low for this time of year. The path continued to narrow and I was now walking under a canopy of leaves allowing only scattered rays of sunshine  to filter through.tree line tow path

I walked out to the observation tower about two miles out and stopped to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Lehigh River winding through the mountains. view of mountains along Lehigh River

I then walked out to the railroad bridge that spans the Lehigh River. Unfortunately the tanker cars parked along the track detracted from the majestic view of the river and mountains. railroad bridge over Lehigh River

I still sat along the banks of the river for a bit and enjoyed the beautiful scenery and the sounds of the rushing waters of the Lehigh River. trees along lehigh river

As I began my return along the trail I again saw a flock of migrating song birds fluttering in the tree tops. This time, after a number of attempts, I was able to capture one of the many birds in the flock. I think it is some type of warbler. warbler in tree

There were also a few lingering butterflies along the trail.butterfly on leaf on trail

And a few more wild mallard ducks swimming in the canal.  Here is a link to some more of the birds I saw on my walk. Lehigh Canal birds 

I continued my walk back under the shade of the many ancient trees along the Lehigh River. 

I enjoyed the early autumn sunshine as I made my way back to the town of Weissport , having enjoyed another great day in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

And as I approached the parking lot I noticed this critter on a fence railing. Always something interesting in nature if you keep your eyes peeled. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Lehigh Canal Photographs, 

“But just as the river is always at the door, so is the world always outside. And it is in the world that we have to live.” 
― Lian Hearn

 

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