It’s Been A Mild January But Still Ice, And Some Snow, At The PPL Wetlands

I decided to hike on one of my favorite trails this morning,  the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township.  Most years,  in January, I would find thick ice on the ponds and canals  and a deep snow cover  on the trails but  we  had  unseasonably mild weather here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, so I found no snow and only a thin layer of ice on the ponds and canals. PPL Wetlands -11

Some of the ponds actually had open water which is very unusual for January. PPL Wetlands -7

And the canals still had some green patches of duck weed growing beneath the ice, again an indication of the mild weather. PPL Wetlands -12

And most  surprising was what  find in the partially  frozen ground, the emerging sheaths of the skunk cabbage. Usually the first plants to emerge, in early March,  I have never found them growing in January before. I hope it is a sign of early Spring but it also may be proof our climate is changing. PPL Wetlands -10

It was cloudy, and the temperatures were seasonable, in the low 30’s , this morning as I walked along the trails and canals.  For the first few miles I did not see or hear a single bird or animal. Not a crow, squirrel, chipmunk or sparrow.  Clearly it was January since it is hard to walk a few feet in the Spring, Summer or Fall without seeing or hearing some type of wildlife. PPL Wetlands -3

And there was only a few signs of plant life too. The duck weed I mentioned above, and some frozen, but still green,  and  very much alive, ferns.PPL Wetlands -15

There were many ghost of last seasons growth, found in the dead or  dormant remains of last seasons plants, such as these berries from the green brier that grow along the canals. PPL Wetlands -4

Or the thorns on this tree.PPL Wetlands -21

Or these twisted vines. PPL Wetlands -25

I walked into the river lands section of the nature area and found. like I did in my last visit, a flock of white throated sparrows. These birds stayed close to the ground under the brambles and green brier vines but I was able to photograph this one resting in a tree branch. PPL Wetlands -35

Like  my last visit, I also found a number of other birds traveling with the sparrows,  including  this cardinal. PPL Wetlands -23

And this flicker high in a tree top.PPL Wetlands -2

And this downy or hairy woodpecker .PPL Wetlands -37

On my walk back I also encountered a few flocks of the northern or black eyed juncos scrambling on the ground looking for food, the main activity of all wildlife during the cold Winter months. I was surprised to only see one mammal, a gray squirrel, during my five mile hike. PPL Wetlands -24

On my way back I did get a  reminder that it is still Winter, a light, gentile snowfall. PPL Wetlands -38

By the time I got back near my car at the parking area the canals and ponds were again looking more like Winter from the new snow. PPL Wetlands -47

I decided to walked along the Susquehanna River for a bit  and took a few moment to sit and  watch the ice slowly flowing downriver. I find watching  it very relaxing since I first observed the ice on the Susquehanna River  a few miles down river in the Bloomsburg town park when I was a freshman at Bloomsburg College many years ago. Here is a link to a video of the ice flow on the river  I uploaded to YoutubePPL Wetlands -44

The light snowfall continued, covering the paths and ice on the canals and creating  some nice scenery.  I knew it was also making the 25 miles of roads I had to drive to my home icy and dangerous  so I decided it was time to leave the newly created winter wonderland, knowing, God willing, I can always return tomorrow. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk today.

“Natures beauty soothe my eyes,
Refreshes my soul,
Helps in imagination…”

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More Winter Beauty: A Hike On The Old Lehigh Canal In Weissport

It was another cold  day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, a frigid seven degrees this morning. But the skies were mostly clear and we finally saw some sunshine. . I love the sun and had to get out and take advantage of it , despite the cold and wind,  and decided to return to the Lehigh River, this time at  Weissport, Carbon County. lehigh-canal-2

I have hiked here before but I don’t remember posting on my blog about a Winter hike . There are a few posts in my blog’s archive about the long and storied history of the canal, so check them out if you want some more information. When I arrived I found only a few of the many species of ducks and geese that reside on the canals in the warmer month. They did not look like they were enjoying the weather anymore than I was, and  they may soon be joining their friends who flew south.  lehigh-canal-1

I headed north on the trail,  along the old canal that runs parallel with the Lehigh River. There was more ice forming on the river and I enjoyed  watching it slowly  flow by in the current.lehigh-canal-4

I walked along the canal which was  almost completely frozen over, although there was still open water in spots’ unusual for January.lehigh-canal-6

As was the case in the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township, I found many bird nest along the path which were hidden in the leaves in the Summer.lehigh-canal-19

And the remnants of lasts years plants  could still be found along the canals, such as this milkweed pod,lehigh-canal-18

And these green brier leaves.lehigh-canal-12

I was walking into the strong wind in the cold temperatures but the sunshine, and the  pleasant scenery along the trail, kept my mind off of the cold.lehigh-canal-17

After about two miles I came to the famous church in the woods and this reflective sign that I have posted here a few times. It’s a great message so I will share it again.lehigh-canal-31

A little further on the trail I came to this  conservation observation  deck and I enjoyed the view of the river and mountains.lehigh-canal-36

In warmer weather I would sit and take in the view for a bit but not in the cold and wind this morning. I soon began my journey back. lehigh-canal-37

It was easier walking with the wind at my back, and the sun warmed it up a bit too. I think the warmer temperatures made the birds more active. I didn’t see any living thing on the way out. On the way back I first heard, then saw this nuthatch. lehigh-canal-29

Then I spotted a few of these white throated sparrows in the shrubs.lehigh-canal-45

And finally I began to see some of my favorite winter birds, the always friendly and playful black capped chickadees. lehigh-canal-48

I was surprised not to see any mammals, such as a squirrel, chipmunk or rabbit, not a one. But they are there as there were many  paw and hoof prints in the snow. And, I also learned there were beavers in the area, after finding some of there finished work. lehigh-canal-28

I stopped a few times to watch, and listen to the ice floating down the river. It truly is a relaxing and peaceful sound and motion. I just wish it weren’t so cold and windy so I could just sit down for awhile. Here is a link to a video of the ice on the river I uploaded to Youtube.

As I continued my walk I noticed the areas of cobblestone that remained on the path from the days when it was the tow path for the Lehigh canal. It is possible this stones were set here in the 1830’s. lehigh-canal-33

On the way back I discovered I wasn’t the only one hiking on this cold January morning, I met a man walking his dog, a woman raking photographs ans a couple who told me there were otters int the river. I was glad to see some other folks enjoying the beauty of the Lehigh River. lehigh-canal-39

I forgot to mention  the many icicles and ice formations that had formed along the slopes of the gorge surrounding the river and canal. They may not be as beautiful as the flowers of summer, but they certainly do have a unique type of beauty. lehigh-canal-44

I missed the green leaves, flowers, insects and animals of summer but still, it was a nice walk in the  cold and wind of January. There is nothing we can do about the weather so we may as well as enjoy it. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike this morning.

“How many lessons of faith and beauty we should lose, if there were no winter in our year!”–Thomas Wentworth Higginsonlehigh-canal-13


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Finally, Ice And Cold Arrive At The PPL Wetlands

Just a few weeks ago temperatures were  in the 70’s and I was seeing turtles at the PPL Wetlands. Not today,  the unseasonably warm weather ended and temperatures plummeted here in Northeastern Pennsylvania these  past few day. There  was ice on the ponds and canals when I hiked there this morning. ppl-wetlands-11

I am not a big fan of Winter anymore, it is hard to walk in the ice and snow,  but I enjoyed my hike this morning.  It was calm and cloudy, with temperatures  near 20 degrees. The wetlands had a somber but peaceful look and feel to them. ppl-wetlands-27

Gone now is the last of the duckweed  on the waters. it has been replaced with a still thin layer of ice, in many shades of white, blue and gray. ppl-wetlands-31

There was only a dusting of snow on the ground down here along the river. Near my house, at a much higher elevation, we got about two inches of snow. ppl-wetlands-24

As I walked along the canal I saw a few juncos, black-capped chickadees and a few sparrows, including this white -throated  sparrow that was fluttering about in the brush. ppl-wetlands-45

Overhead I hear the shrill cry of a red tailed hawk and saw this fellow fly into the topmost branches of this tree.  He, or she,  was pretty well hidden. I watched him/her for awhile hoping it would fly toward me.ppl-wetlands-9

Instead another hawk flew from a nearby tree, probably this ones mate, and they both flew away from me.  This was the best photograph I could get. as it flew away. ppl-wetlands-10

It amazes me, as I walked along the trails, how many different birds nests are now exposed in the branches of the leafless trees and shrubs. ppl-wetlands-38

Some are right along the path, a few feet from where I, and many others walked right next to the pair of birds raising their chicks without any of us noticing them.  Here is a photograph of one I found on one of the most used trails. I walked by it dozens of times and had no idea it was there. ppl-wetlands-39

As I walked I came across this somewhat unusual sight, a downy or hairy woodpecker, not looking for insects in the bark of a tree, but actually eating seeds or fruits on a tree. I never saw them eat anything other then insects before.ppl-wetlands-13

The ice on the canals made for a nice background for the many shriveled and dead plants and weeds that grew along the banks in the Summer. ppl-wetlands-33

It is not green or lush, like in the Spring or Summer, or colorful like in the fall but the dead vegetation still was beautiful in it’s own way. ppl-wetlands-44

And I did find some color, still clinging on in the cold and ice. A few of the last   fallen leaves of the year still holding on to some color.ppl-wetlands-49

The cones of the staghorn sumac also still remain a bright red color.  i believe they can be used as a spice or made into a lemonade like tea. ppl-wetlands-42

I also found some color among the birds in the wetlands, this cardinal  which was also feeding on the seeds of the now dead plants and shrubs. ppl-wetlands-36

And there were still some greens too,  few ferns fighting the coldppl-wetlands-55

and the evergreen plants, shrubs and trees that will provide  reminder of the coming Spring throughout the cold Winter that has now set in on the PPL Wetlands. ppl-wetlands-43

But, for the most part, the dominant  colors over the next few moths will be the subtle and varying  shades of brown, whites, and grays of winter. ppl-wetlands-53

It was cold but it was still nice to  out and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, even on a cold December day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike this morning.



Of winter’s lifeless world each tree

Now seems a perfect part;

Yet each one holds summer’s secret

Deep down within its heart.”

—Charles G. Stater



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Is It Really Spring? Sure Doesn’t Look That Way Down Here. .

Wasn’t the way I had been planning to spend the first full day of Spring down at the Lehigh River Gorge. Looked more like a walk in the middle of January on my hike today. . But that is what we expect here in the mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The unexpected. Some years the trees could be budding and the temperature could be in the 70’s. Lehigh Gorge (13 of 26)

Wasn’t to bad walking with temperatures near freezing. And there were signs of Spring. The river was ice free and many of the large ice formations had melted considerably since my last visit. It looks line the trail was also mostly snow free, until we got the six new inches of snow yesterday. But it was already starting to melt. Won’t be long no until we start seeing some green.

But had to admit, as much as I don’t like the snow, especially this late in the season, it sure looked pretty in the gorge carved out by the Lehigh River. So peaceful, except for a few snowmobilers, who I was grateful to see since they blazed a trail through the snow for me. And a couple of brave kayaks were venturing into the frigid and fasting moving waters of the rivers.   The town  of Rockport,  once a gate way to the old Lehigh Canal also looked pretty in the snow.  Although it wasn’t what I had hoped for on the first full day of Spring,   still a great day to be outdoors in Northeast Pennsylvania.   here is the link to some more photographs I took in the winter wonderland that was the Lehigh Gorge today.

Lehigh Gorge (2 of 26)

“The snow was endless, a heavy blanket on the outdoors; it had a way about it. A beauty. But I knew that, like many things, beauty could be deceiving.” Cambria Herbert. 

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Back Down to the Lehigh, Still Frozen But Signs of Spring.

Got a little warmer today, and sure felt Spring in the air but still a lot of snow out there and not many options on hiking in the woods. Once again I headed down to the Lehigh Gorge to take advantage of the trails made by the snowmobilers.

The river is still mainly frozen and the ice formations are still frozen solid but a lot more folks out there today taking advantage of the 40 degree temperature. Headed south this time. More pine trees and, since it is on the trail is on the northeast  side of a mountain a deeper snow pack. I was going to hike down to the river but found the snow higher than my knees and wasn’t going to trudge through it since I am still having some hip issues. Saw a few deer and, a my first sign of Spring, a flying insect. Here is a link to the photo. Gorge (27 of 60)

It was a nice hiking in the warmer temperatures but still rough going even on the snow mobile trails. i hike down to the railroad bridge on the Drake creek. Hoping next time I’m here it’s snow and ice free. But that may not be until April. Here are some more photos I took on my hike.

Lehigh Gorge (55 of 60)


Life is like the river, sometimes it sweeps you gently along and sometimes the rapids come out of nowhere.”
Emma Smith

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There’s no place to go, with all of the Snow.

Was a lot milder today in Northeastern Pennsylvania but still a lot of snow cover on the ground.  We got another three inches yesterday and there were some higher drifts making walking anywhere in the woods very difficult. I really get cabin fever this time of year since I can’t just roam where ever feel like when I head out for my walk. Got some issues with my knee and hip so can’t trudge through the deep snow like I used too. So I either have to walk the street or find me a road used by snowmobilers or. like today, a local utility company.

I hiked in the tracks left by the local water company vehicle out the Dreck Creek Reservoir. No timbering here, yet, and it is still a beautiful place to hike. The local Rail to Trails path is out here too. Was still a difficult walk but nice and peaceful sitting near the frozen and snow covered reservoir. And doesn’t look like it will be melting any time soon. Worked on my photo plug in and the photos on my photograph page should upload a lot quicker now. Also uploaded a few photos from my hike to my Flicker site. This is the link. Creek 2-22-2015 (5 of 7)


“Every mile in winter is two” George Herbert




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Ice and Snow can be Beautiful too, a Late Winter Walk in the Lehigh River Gorge.

I enjoyed the beauty of the tropics this past week during my visit to Belize and, will admit, I wasn’t looking forward to returning to the record breaking cold in my hometown in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  I was planning to just do some walking in town today since I had a lot of unpacking and chores to take care of.

I was visiting my brother when my nephew Mike asked me if I would take him to see the ice and waterfalls in the Lehigh Gorge. I had taken him there a few years ago and he wanted to return. Good choice Mike. Although it was cold, and we were the only folks down there,   we really enjoyed the frozen beauty of the  river and ice formations.  The Lehigh was completely frozen over in spots as was Buttermilk waterfalls. The ice formations on the rocks of the gorge was huge and beautiful. Loved the shades of gray and blue.  Realized you don’t have to go to the tropics to see the beauty in nature, it is everywhere. I’ll admit it is getting harder to deal with the cold as I grow older but still fun to get out there and enjoy it. The photo above is my nephew at the river.

We headed back just in time to beat the snow.  I took a short video of  my walk during the afternoon in the wind and snow so my new friends in Belize can see what real cold weather is about. They were freezing when the temperature got into the 60’s. It was -7 degrees on my way home from the airport last night. This is the link to the you tube video.

No matter were we live, there is nothing we can do about the weather except to try and enjoy it the best we can. And, I’ll admit it isn’t easy here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I’m counting the days until Spring. Here is a link to some more photos of the ice formations from the Lehigh gorge today. Gorge 030

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It’s the End of the Humboldt Reservoir as We knew it.

    Was hoping to take  a relaxing hike to a favorite spot of mine, the Humboldt Reservoir. Hiked out here many times as kids. It was always a secluded, and beautiful place, to enjoy the beauty of nature. It is located on lands of our local water authority.  many folks would camp, party and just enjoy this isolated reservoir. Loved watching the stars out there. In recent years, this reservoir lost much of it’s seclusion. A residential development, and then am industrial park,were built adjacent to the reservoir and the surrounding watershed. However, it still remained a relatively quite and secluded palce to get away amid the surrounding developments. Still frequently deer, raccoons, turkey, hawks and other wildlife on my walks along the water. Well that world ended for me today when I discovered the clear cut timbering that was down upon the surrounding lands of the watershed. i am still in shock. I can’t believe our local officials would ever allow this to happen on this wonderful  natural area. it was so prophetic that I saw one of my favorite movies yesterday,  Dr. Suess’s The Lorax.  The once wooded hills surrounding the reservoir looked like a scene from the movie after the last truffula tree was chopped down. What a lack of foresight. I lost another part of my childhood today. Felt like this Native American in the old commercial  It is still a nice walk to the reservoir but it will never be the same. Here is a link to some more photos I took on this sad morning. reservoir 079

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”
Chris Maser

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”
Mahatma Gandhi

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More ice and snow along the Lehigh River

We got some moderation in the temperature today, a balmy 22 degrees this morning, but there is still a deep snow cover out there. Decided to take advantage of the paths left by snowmobilers and hike in the Lehigh Gorge. Wasn’t bad walking and ran into a few cross country skiers and snowmobilers. Not much wildlife except a red tailed hawk.  I was disappointed that Buttermilk Falls was covered with snow but there were a lot of large ice formation along the walls of the gorge. Enjoyed the beautiful winter scenery but still looking forward to the warmer days and muddy paths of Spring. Here is the link to some of the photos I took along the hike.

 [W]hat a severe yet master artist old Winter is…. No longer the canvas and the pigments, but the marble and the chisel. ~John Burroughs, “The Snow-Walkers,”

Lehigh Gorge Rockport 073

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Brrrr It’s cold out there.

It’s February, and we expect cold and snow in Northeastern Pennsylvania, but it got real cold today. We may set a new record with an expected low  tonight. of -6 degrees.  And a very strong wind too.  But we had plenty of sunshine today and the clear blue skies enticed me to brave the ice and snow and take some photos in the woods behind my house. The sun is moving north very quickly now but it still is low in the sky and casts some cool shadows. Loved seeing it cast them on the pure white snow. It was like walking in a scene from Dr. Zhivago.  It wasn’t too bsnow and ice 047ad out there but glad to be inside now. I met this fellow on the way in and he may be the only one in the neighborhood enjoying the snow. Here is a link to some more photos I took thst I uploaded to my Filcker account.




“On a cold winter day even the snow needs the touch of the sun!”
Mehmet Murat ildan

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