The forecast this morning here in Northeastern Pennsylvania called for freezing rain. I didn’t want to drive far in case the roads got icy so I thought about hiking in nearby Community Park. As I was getting dressed I recalled how my friends and I often wanted to walk out to the park when I was in elementary school. We never did. So today I decided why not?
I checked Google maps and it looked like a 1.75 mile hike from my house as the crow flies, probably about a 2 1/2 miles through the woods. So I left my house and walked north down the ridge through my property, passing beneath the “Coke” sign tree. There was an old Coca Cola sign nailed on this tree when we were kids.
The trees under which I walked were now leafless on this cloudy and cold December day. .
And the ground covered with there fallen leaves.
I came to the old railroad track right of way, the northern border of my property and headed west to the tower lines, The railroad was abandoned, and the tracks removed about 25 years ago.
When I came to the electric tower line I headed north again, having came this way only a few times in my life. The tower line first borders the edge of the Valmont Industrial Park and than a housing development on the west. To the east of the tower line. was one of the first shopping malls in the area, where, appropriately, one of the first stores was named Towers.
I discovered I wasn’t the only one walking on these paths, as I found plenty of deer track in the now frozen mud.
Once I came to the end of the shopping mall I was in unexplored territory. I walked down along the edge of the housing development to an old electric power substation along a major highway, Route 93.
I thought i may have trouble crossing the busy highway but there was little traffic, maybe because of the holiday, and I leisurely walked across. It wasn’t so easy on the other side. I walked down into a wetland area and some thick brush.
These wetlands, with tall growths of reeds and grass were along the Black Creek.
Near this creek here was some of the first business in West Hazleton a sawmill and a gunsmith shop operated by the Horn family, one of the founding fathers of West Hazleton. I hadn’t thought ahead how I would cross this creek and found it wasn’t going to be easy. I walked through thorns, thick brush and briers along it’s banks until I came to a somewhat spot where the waters were somewhat narrow for me to attempt a jump. Well I thought I could make it, and in my younger days would have, but today I wound up coming up shirt and winding up with a shoe full of water.
I made my way up the bank, again through thorns and thick brush and walked up to the new road Hazle Township built along another abandoned railroad right of way. I had been here before, having hiked in from the east. I followed the road past another new residential development and soccer fields. I was pleased to see a group of high school age boys playing football in the cold.
I walked into the park, which was empty. past the tank memorial, playground and picnic areas to the now frozen Lake Irene.
I had hoped to maybe see the bald eagle that i saw a few weeks ago so I walked along the lake. I realized the eagle may not be here now since the waters are mainly frozen on the lake.
I didn’t see the flock of ducks or geese that were here all Summer and still here on my last visit a few weeks ago. I thought they flew south but, did see one duck fly off in the distance, and soon found it must have remained on some waters that still were not frozen,
I did see about a half dozen of what looked like seagulls fly over the lake.
I heard a few crows and a lot of the carefree cries of the friendly black capped chickadees on my walk and was able to capture this house finch near one of the housing developments’
I didn’t see any, but I could tell there were some beavers near the lake that have been active by the number of small trees that were chewed on.
And my hunter friends can tell you what kind of animal did this.
As I finished my walk around the lake, it began to rain, and freeze, and my photography for the day was over. I was focused on making it back through the woods on the now frozen paths. it wasn’t bad walking on the leaves and grass but the exposed surfaces and rocks were treacherous. The cold rain stung my face but eventually I made it back to West Hazleton were I found the roads to be even worse. This hills was a sheet of ice and not easy to climb.
I did make it home, and although I was cold and tired I still was glad I finally can say I walked to Community Park. I hope to do it again, in better weather conditions, in the Spring or Summer, Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike today. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/Community-Park-Hazle-Township-December-26-2016–1
“When we lose these woods, we lose our soul. Not simply as individuals, but as a people.”
― Kevin Walker