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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Glen Onoko: Another Snowy Hike Along The Lehigh River

There was still a lot of snow on the ground last Sunday, and, since I don’t like cross country skies or snow shoes, I decided to again  hike the compacted snow left by  the snowmobiles  on the D & L Trail, this time at Glen Onoko.Lehigh River Glen Onoko -1

I arrived at the trail under mostly  clear blue skies and the strong March sun. The temperatures were more like Alaska than Northeastern Pennsylvania in March, a frigid 12 degrees when I began my hike.Lehigh River Glen Onoko -2

I encountered another photographer on my walk and we had a nice chat about the trail and the surrounding area and it’s history .Lehigh River Glen Onoko -7

As we walked along the still active railroad tracks into the gorge we  ran into these dog sledding enthusiasts, making me again feel like I was in Alaska.Lehigh River Glen Onoko -1

We we treated to this interesting situation of what happens when two dog sled teams cross paths. It seemed the dogs had to stop and socialize a bit, much to the frustration of their owners. Lehigh River Glen Onoko -5

My new photographer friend stayed to photographs the dog sled teams and I continued my hike  along the gorge. Lehigh River Glen Onoko -2

I encountered a few folks on snow mobiles along the way, a cross country skier and one dedicated woman running in the snow. Lehigh River Glen Onoko -27

I hike along the winding Lehigh River as it flowed through the mountains, as it did for thousands of years, creating the steep cliffs of the gorge. Lehigh River Glen Onoko -21

It is truly a beautiful place to hike, any time of the year , yes even with 20 inches of snow on the ground, and frigid temperatures. You just got to dress warm. Lehigh River Glen Onoko -33

I hiked past the Pioneer Oil Pipe line. I did a blog post on the interesting history of this pipeline, one of the first in the country. It can be found in the archives. I believe it now carries fiber optic cables. Lehigh River Glen Onoko -22

The March sun was higher in the sky now and it began to melt the top layers of the snow, causing me to break through the top compacted layer created by the snow mobiles and making walking difficult. And it was a long walk back.Lehigh River Glen Onoko -38

 The exhausting walks required a few rests along the way, which wasn’t a bad thing. I love listening to the flow of the river. Here is a link to a video I uploaded https://youtu.be/6czdSjxMpNgto YouTubeLehigh River Glen Onoko -35

I saw little wild life on my hike, no bears, Lehigh River Glen Onoko -6

but a few birdsLehigh River Glen Onoko -29

including a few  turkey vultures soaring overhead. Lehigh River Glen Onoko -30

And even a few insects, a sure sign of spring.Lehigh River Glen Onoko -39

It was a cold and tiring hike but well worth the effort to once again enjoy the beauty that surrounds us here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Hopefully the rain, and warmer temperatures  forecast for this weekend will melt the snow and make walking a bit easier. Sorry,  to my dog sledding and snowmobiling friends, but it’s time for Spring! Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Lehigh-River-Gorge-Glen-Onoko-March-19-2017-Lehigh River Glen Onoko -11

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says ‘Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.’”
―Lewis Carroll

 

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A Sunny November Hike Out To The Penrose Reservoir

It was a cold and sunny Fall day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  Mushroom season is now over and most of the wildlife left the PPL Wetlands,  my favorite Sunday hiking area,  so I decided to head into Carbon County, about 10 miles south of my home and hike the railroad tracks up to the always picturesque Penrose reservoir. penrose-reservoir-1

I left the quaint town of Weatherly  and hiked up the historic railroad right of way which has been in use for over 150 years now. I have posted blogs on the history before and you can read about it in my blog  archives. penrose-reservoir-3

Most of the leaves have fallen from the trees now, except some of the oaks, always the last to shed them, and adding some late color to the scenery. penrose-reservoir-33

The tracks run along the Black Creek or Hazle Creek , which was at the lowest level I have seen it since I started hiking out here about seven years ago. We have had little rain this Summer and Fall and  the streams are all very low. penrose-reservoir-13

There was some frost in the colder pockets along the creek but it was rapidly disappearing as the sun warmed the cold morning air. It was all gone on my return hike. penrose-reservoir-12

I crossed the bridge over the Black or Hazle Creek , know by railroad buffs as Hazle Creek Junction. This was a major railroad intersection at one time, where the Buck Mountain, Beaver Meadows and Lehigh railroads met. 

I continued upward, and northward,  to the Penrose Reservoir. This reservoir is also over a 100 years old and once supplied  Weatherly with it’s drinking water. penrose-reservoir-18

I have seen a lot of wildlife on this reservoir over the year, including ducks, geese, ospreys, herons, otters, and the rare American bittern, but not today, in fact I only saw a few chickadees, a grouse and one very large buck on my hike, although I wasn’t able to photograph any of them. penrose-reservoir-20

The growing season is over, and all that remains of the summer’s growth are the dead and decaying leaves. penrose-reservoir-10

However I did find this interesting shrub in bloom. It is the witch  hazel tree. It is the only tree or shrub that blooms in the Fall in Pennsylvania. penrose-reservoir-31

I also came across another oddity, a lot growing mushroom. penrose-reservoir-21

There wasn’t as much wildlife as in the Summer or Spring, but it was still a great day to be outdoors in Northeastern Pennsylvania, it always, is Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike today. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/Penrose-Reservoir-hike-November-13-2016-penrose-reservoir-30

My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing. ~Aldous Huxleypenrose-reservoir-28

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Australia Day Nine: Nullarbor Plain And The Ghost Town Of Cook

On my second night on the train, I decided to leave the shades in my cabin open so I could fall asleep with the bright stars shining  in the dark Australian sky. I couldn’t make them out at the time, I was facing South and I am not familiar with the southern Constellations, but I enjoyed them all the same. .  I fell soundly asleep again, only to be awakened by the sound of voices outside my cabin in the middle of the night. . We had stopped, in Port Augusta I think,and the workers outside were re-supplying the train.   I enjoyed seeing the strange town in the middle of nowhere  outside my window.  I fell back into a sound sleep until shortly before sunrise. I got up and walked to the lounge to try and watch it rise. I sat and watched the sky brighten, as the sun appeared on the horizon. It was a beautiful sunrise, as they all. I thought how, back home, my family and friends were watching it set in the west as they ended their day. Indian Pacific Adelaide to Cook -3 - Copy

I sat down, had a cup of tea, some guitar music from a fellow passenger   and enjoyed the passing scenery. We were now in flat lands  again, approaching the Nullarbor plain. Sometimes the landscape was   treeless and others was  covered forest of medium sized trees , shrubs or low lying desert vegetation.  There was always with a bright red soil  underneath.Indian Pacific  Adelaide to Cook -31

No kangaroos, sheep or cattle now, just the occasional bird. And, this beautiful wedge tailed eagle, the symbol of the Indian Pacific. It isn’t the best photograph but it still was an awesome sight to see one of the magnificent creatures soaring over the Australian outback. untitled-1

Some folks may say the landscape was boring and not interesting but I enjoyed the subtle changes in the colors of the soils, the variety of the trees and was rewarded with the occasional bird or some interesting new landscape, such as a number of  large salt lake we passed.  here is a link to some more photographs of our through the outback that morning. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/australia-day-nine-indian-pacific-adelaide-to-cook-february-12-2016Indian Pacific  Adelaide to Cook -10

I sat, enjoyed the scenery, and listened to the folk music and tales of the outback on the trains radio station.  We stopped  to refuel at the once booming town of  Cook, now largely abandoned with a population of four. They live here to  service the Indian Pacific train. Indian Pacific  Cook -11

It was hot when we departed the train for our half hour excursion, temperatures were in the mid 90’s, but it didn’t stop us from exploring the deserted building.Indian Pacific  Cook -41

The town once had over 20,000 inhabitants but they left when the trains changed ownership, leaving behind many of the building on the Nullarbor Plain. The school seems like it just had students yesterday.Indian Pacific  Cook -27

I wondered about the lives of the folks who were born and grew up in this isolated town in the Australian outback. It was surely a different life than most folks lead but I am sure the beauty of the outback was ample reward for the isolation . Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to Cook. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/australia-day-nine-indian-pacific-cook-february-12-2016Indian Pacific  Cook -44

We boarded the train and I went back to what had become a favorite activity, just watching the scenery as we proceeded along.Indian Pacific  Adelaide to Cook -16

We pulled over at the Rawlinna station, at sunset,  where a meal was prepared for us under the desert  sky. The food, and entertainment were superb as we dined under the sparking Australian stars. Indian Pacific  Cook  to Rawlinna -13

It was a great evening and some newly made friends took me aside and pointed out the Southern Cross. I still am awed by the sight of the Milky Way in the Southern Hemisphere. I also love looking at Orion, now in the northern sky and upside down from how I always saw it. We boarded the plan and I fell into a sound sleep recalling the events of another great day on the Indian Pacific as it traveled onward to perth during the night. . Here is a link to some more photographs of  our ride from Cook to Rawlinna. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/australia-day-nine-cook-through-rawlinna-ride-february-11-2016On m

…what thrills me about trains is not their size or their equipment but the fact that they are moving, that they embody a connection between unseen places.”
Marianne Wiggins

 

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Australia Day Eight: My First Full Day On The Indian Pacific. I Learned Australia Is Vast And I Love Train Rides.

I will have to admit I was not really sure how I would sleep on the train. Well the first night I was so exhausted I fell right to sleep and found the bed they pulled down to be quite comfortable. I didn’t mind the  swaying, jerking or clanking of the train one bit and had a good nights sleep.  I awoke at dawn,  right when we were pulling into the outback mining town of Broken hill. Unfortunately it was overcast and we didn’t get to see a sunrise.  We departed the train for a quick tour of the town.Indian Pacific Broken Hill-1

The landscape was now pretty much treeless with low shrubs and plants dominating the bleak hills. We learned that one of the richest silver mines in the world is found here and that it still is active. We also visited the gallery of one of the town’s native, and famous artist, Pro Hart. I found a lot in common, he worked in the silver mines, had a deep love and curiosity about all things, loved ants and dragonflies and was a Gemini. I purchased a signed print of one of his drawings, although I am somewhat regretting the amount of space it is taking up in my luggage.  Here is a link to some more photographs of our visit to Broken Hill http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/australia-day-eight-broken-hillIndian Pacific Broken Hill-18

We left this desert town and headed on through the desolate hills of reddish soil and various types of low shrubs and desert like plant. I spent my time just enjoying the landscaping and looking for  the slight chance I’d see some wildlife out here. And sure enough I did see the occasional  kangaroos fleeing from the sound of the train.Kangaroo 4-1

The train headed south to Adelaide and we moved from the arid outback to areas of grass, now  brown and dry from the Summer heat, but still supporting a lot of sheep. Here is a link to some more photographs from our ride to Adelaide. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/australia-day-eight-indian-pacific-ride-to-adelide-february-11-2016Indian Pacific Broken Hill to Adelaide -34

We arrived in Adelaide for a stop over around four o’clock. and I decided to take the walking tour of the city. The other choice was a visit to wine country.  I heard this was a good tour too but I have no regrets about my choice.  We were bused to downtown Adelaide where I immediately learned how beautiful this city is. I can’t believe I never heard of it before my trip to Australia. It is a very beautiful city.Indian Pacific Adelaide city walk-8

We were given a very nice tour, and history lesson, by a very informative guide. She showed us the many statutes  and old historical buildings of the downtown. So many beautiful statues honoring the many men, and women, who contributed to the city’s  founding and history. Here is a link to the some of the beautiful statues we saw on our walk. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/australia-day-eight-indian-pacific-adelaide-statutes-february-11-2016Indian Pacific Adelaide city walk statues -4

The buildings  were magnificent too. The University of Adelaide was said to rival the beauty of Oxford. I have never seen Oxford but it sure was impressive. We visited a number of buildings learning a very lot, in this little time, about the history of the city .We made our way to the library and found that the section our guide was taking us was closed. We still got a look around this modern building adorned with art. Here is a link to some more photographs of the library.http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/australia-day-eight-indian-pacific-adelaine-library

We next made our way to the botanical gardens.A  few friends and I left our tour, who headed to the  National Wine Institute, to get a quick look at these wonderful gardens. It certainly wasn’t enough time to see  all of it’s beauty but it was still worth the look. Here is a link to some more photographs from our quick tour of the botanical gardens.http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/australia-day-eight-indian-pacific-adelaide-botanical-gardens-february-11-2016Indian Pacific Adelaide city walk botanical garden -5

We joined our group at the Wine Institute and were treated to a wide variety of the most delicious hors d’oeuvres. We arrived late so I had no time to try the free wine samples but had nice glass of a local wine with the    equally delicious dinner they served after our tour of the institute. We learned so much about the production of wine in general and the specifics of the wine growing in this region. Here is a link to some more photographs of our visit to the Wine Institute.http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/australia-day-eight-adelaine-wine-institute-february-11-2016Indian Pacific Adelaide city walk wine institute -4

After our dinner we headed back to our train. We arrived at dusk, with a beautiful crescent moon hanging in the twilight. It was a beautiful to a long but enjoyable day. I was asleep shortly after our train started to move again. Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to Adelaide.  http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/australia-day-eight-indian-pacific-ride-to-adelide-february-11-2016Indian Pacific Adelaide city moon 2-8

“Whenever he was en route from one place to another, he was able to look at his life with a little more objectivity than usual. it was often on trips  that he thought most clearly, and made the decisions that he could not reach when he was stationary.” Indian Pacific Adelaide city magpie-1
Paul Bowles

 

 

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Australia Day Seven : A Walk To The Botanical Gardens And On To Perth, The Old Fashioned Way, By Train

Sorry it’s been a few days since I got to my blog but we had no wi fi internet  on the train ride from Sydney to Perth. It was a lovely trip and seems so long since I was in Sydney. But let’s see what I can remember.  I got up early Wednesday morning hoping to get to the botanical gardens.  I walked down George Street, which unlike the crowds of people the day before, it was quite empty at dawn .sydney moning walk -6

George  Street like major streets in most large cities had the usual upscale shops and restaurants,  large office buildings and some historical buildings and churches. I walked past the same sights I saw the day before and turned  onto Market Street so I could see the famous Sydney  Tower. it certainly  stands out in the Sydney skyline.sydney moning walk -19

I didn’t have a lot of time to explore Hyde park and all of it’s splendor, including the impressive St Mary’s Cathedral. There is just so much to see in this wonderful city.sydney moning walk -25

I at least wanted to see the botanical gardens so continued on, much to the dismay of my natural sense of curiosity and exploration. I was glad I did get to , they  the gardens are just beautiful. I hadn’t much time but to just see scenic beauty of the trees, flowers and lawns and to investigate the identity of some of the more exotic ones was heaven for me.sydney moning walk Botanical Gardens-1

I was most impressed with stumbling upon a species of pine, one of the first to inhabit the earth in the age of the dinosaurs, long thought extinct, and recently discovered by a ranger in a remote canyon not far from Sydney.sydney moning walk Botanical Gardens-15

I was this close so I continued to the harbour, where I was rewarded with not only the sights of the  trees, flowers and shrubs of Australia but also spectacular views of the Opera House, and Harbour Bridge I even had time to make it to, and sit and rest on the famous Mrs. Macquaries chair, a rock formation that was carved into a chairs for the Governors’s wife when Sydney was first colonized. It was a nice place to rest and take in the wonderful view of the harbor. Here is a link to some more photographs from my visit to the botanical gardens http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/australia-day-seven-botanical-gardens-february-10-2016sydney moning walk Botanical Gardens-28

I headed back to the hotel but did see some birds in the gardens, mainly my friends the parrots,  a few other birds and the Australian miner birds, which is now becoming more of a pest and threat to the native bird species. I walked the three miles back to my hotel, had a delightful breakfast, and began packing for thre next leg of my Australian adventure, a train ride to Perth. Here is a link to some more photographs from my morning walk. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/australia-day-seven-sydney-morning-walk-february-10-2016sydney moning walk Botanical Gardens thrush--1

I left my hotel and walked with my luggage to the Central Station and found the terminal where my train, the famous Indian Pacific of the Ghan line was waiting for our boarding.Indian Pacific-2

I love trains, always have.  I loved encountering them on my many walks the railroad tracks since I was a child. . I have taken train rides of a few hours before, but I think the longest was my train ride to the Blue mountains last week.  I enjoyed that ride very much. .  But four days and three nights, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  We had a nice pre boarding party and than were allowed to board our rooms. They were small.  But I was to excited about the adventure to care much about that now. I immediately took to exploring my home for the next four days. Here is a link to some photographs of the train. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/australia-day-nine-indian-pacific-train-photos-february-12-2016Indian Pacific-8

We left Sydney on time and took the same route that I took over the Blue Mountains a few days earlier. It was a nice ride but unfortunately there are not many good views of the splendor of the Blue Mountains from the train. I still sat by the window and enjoyed all of the sights.

After we passed Katoomba it was all new for me and I was even more glued to the window. We descended the lovely Blue Mountains and were treated with beautiful vistas as we came into farming and sheep raising  country and we could see the mountains through the open fields. The scenery was breathtaking.Indian Pacific Sydney to Blue Mountains -20

I also kept a lookout for any wildlife I may see and was rewarded with my first sighting of a kangaroo in the wild, They were in the brush, appearing  to just watch our passing train. I only managed to get a few photographs, and they weren’t very good. I was still excited  seeing these symbols of Australia living freely in the wild.  Now I need to find a koala bear.Indian Pacific Sydney to Blue Mountains kangaroo -1

We continued past more farm land, it looked like mainly sheep ranches as the sun neared the horizon. Unfortunately it set while I was seated for dinner and in front of the train so I couldn’t see or photograph it. I had a very nice meal and made new Australian friends. It was a great day in the land down under. I headed to my room, wondering how I would sleep. I found out soon enough. I loved the swaying, rocking, jerking and clanking of the train and had one of my best nights sleep in weeks. I really do love trains. Here is a link to some more photographs from our journey through the Blue Mountains. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/australia-day-seven-indian-pacific-through-the-blue-mountains-february-10-2016Indian Pacific Sydney to Blue Mountains -29

 

 

“My heart is warm with the friends I make,sydney moning walk Botanical Gardens-22
And better friends I’ll not be knowing,
Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take,
No matter where it’s going.”
Edna St. Vincent Millay,

 

 

 

 

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More Railroad History. The Catawissa Railroad And A Foggy Hike To The Lofty Tunnel.

It was another above average day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania yesterday. We have had no measurable snow here this season. . This is very rare and may break a record. I’m not complaining since I am able to get some longer hikes in. It was fogy this morning I decided to hike the abandoned Catawissa Railroad    right of way in East Union and Kline Townships to the famous Lofty Tunnel.Lofty tunnel (4 of 38)

The Catawissa Railroad  has a long history and  was one of the first  railroads in our area. It  was incorporated as the Little Schuylkill Railroad  in 1831, Financial troubles kept the line from opening until 1854.  The railroad provided passenger and freight service for many years, offering it’s passengers a scenic ride through the same mountain I hiked today. The  railroad was abandoned in the 1970’s but right of way , which access state game lands, is still well maintained and made for easy hiking.todayLofty tunnel (11 of 38)

It is a steady grade up to the tunnel and, as I began my hike,   the roar of rushing waters from  a quick flowing stream that ran along side the right of way filled the air. Although it was above freezing when  I started my hike, some icy stretches on the road, and  icicles on the rocks along the way, reminded me it was still Winter.Lofty tunnel (37 of 38)

As is usual in january there was little wildlife along my walk. A  few deer, some  nuthatches and chickadees were all I saw  until  I was rewarded when I spotted two bald eagles flying form a tree and off into the fog. I knew they were nesting in the area in the Spring, I saw one in the Fall, and it appears they have stayed for the Winter. Lofty tunnel (6 of 38)

The railroad was built close to the side of the mountain so it was narrow with a drop to the north and a steep incline to the south. There were many old oak trees along the slopes, there naked upper branches shrouded in the fog. Lofty tunnel (21 of 38)

I have driven my jeep up this right of way a few times but this was the first time I walked it.  I saw so much more of these beautiful woodlands yesterday.  I was able to more closely observe  trees, boulders, and terrain and sat by a beautiful stream flowing off of the mountain. Lofty tunnel (12 of 38)

The right of way continued upward, and after about 3 miles I could see the waters of the  Lofty Reservoir through the leafless trees below me. I have heard the lake is still a good place to fish.Lofty tunnel (27 of 38)

The lands abutting the right of way are either State Game lands or owned by the Mahanoy Township Water Authority. I am glad they allow the public  to use it. Lofty tunnel (10 of 38)

The right of way turned to the south as I neared the summit and came upon the abandoned Lofty tunnel. The first train used this railroad track in 1854 so the tunnel had to have been built some time before that date. Lofty tunnel  (18 of 18)

The tracks have been removed and the tunnel is filled with water. I didn’t have high boots on so could not got through it but  I was able to peek inside and see the results of the men who labored up in these isolated mountains so many years ago. One has to wonder  how long the worked, what did they eat, where were they staying, well I do anyway. Here is a link to some more photographs of the Lofty Tunnel. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/lofty-tunnel-january-9-2016Lofty tunnel  (3 of 18)

After spending some time at the tunnel I  headed down the mountain  in a very thick fog,. I  imagined  what  the many  passengers and crew of trains that passed these mountains over the years thought as they descended this same mountain, or where they were coming from or going.  I know I will never know but i enjoy wondering just the same. It was another nice day to explore the history of Northeastern Pa. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/lofty-tunnel-hike-january-9-2016Lofty tunnel (33 of 38)

 

“The restlessness and the longing, like the longing that is in the whistle of a faraway train. Except that the longing isn’t really in the whistle—it is in you.”
Meindert DeJong,

 

 

 

 

 

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More Of Our Coal Mining Heritage On A Cold January Hike

It started out sunny today yesterday  in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  I once again drove out to the former mining patch town   of Hazle Brook. The sunshine didn’t last long. Hazle Brook (1 of 45)

Clouds were already moving in as I walked north on the railroad tracks to the famous tunnel. I am not sure what it’s official name is but it has been called the Jeddo, Hazle Brook and Council Ridge tunnel.   (The red highlighted words lead to links with additional information). I do know it was a remarkable feat of engineering when it was built in the 1850’s. Hazle Brook jeddo Tunnel (17 of 17)

I came back in hopes of photographing icicles hanging from the roof of the tunnels. Some local folks tell me they very large and look  spectacular. Only a few smaller ones have formed since the weather turned cold. Here is a link to some more photographs of this famous tunnel. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/hazle-brook-jeddo-council-ridge-tunnel-january-3-2016Hazle Brook jeddo Tunnel (16 of 17)

I walked back to the remains of the old D. S. & S. railroad  that crossed the old Hazleton Lehigh railroad that ran through the tunnel.  As I related in earlier posts, this railroad was built by the Coxe brothers to transport coal from the many mines they owned in the Hazleton area. Hazle Brook (9 of 45)

This spur has  long been abandoned and has became overgrown with thick brush and briars. I followed the right of way for about a quarter mile but lost it in the undergrowth. Hazle Brook (16 of 45)

I hiked back down to the railroad tracks and onto the other side of the patch town to an area that has been heavily strip mined.Hazle Brook (28 of 45)

To some folks these strip mines may seem ugly and desolated, and they are, but they bring back many wonderful memories to me. I grew up near such strip mines, most of which have now been reclaimed,  and I would spend many days with friends exploring the culm banks, coal silt, open pits and ponds. We played hockey on the ponds in the winter, football in the coal silt in the summer and looked for mushrooms under the new growth of birch, aspen and pine in the fall. I couldn’t help but wonder how much fun the children growing up in Hazle Brook had exploring their strip mines. Hazle Brook hike 091

I was walking out an old mining path when I encountered a couple of local brothers. We had a pleasant conversation about the area and they sent me in the direction of the old D. S. & S. again.Hazle Brook hike 111

After crawling my way upward through some thick brush I found the right of way and a much clearer path that wound along the old railroad and it followed the side of the mountain. It was hard to imagine a train loaded with coal cars winding it’s way through this now isolated woods. Hazle Brook (37 of 45)

I found this iron relic from the past. I think it may have been a hoop from an old wooden barrel. Hazle Brook (18 of 45)

I followed the right of way a bit and then headed back to where I had lost it on my first attempt. I decided to head straight down the mountain and made my way  through thick briars,  mountain laurel and small brush. I came to this pond which I am sure provided some locals with many hours of fun, catching frogs and tadpoles, swimming, playing hockey in the Winter or just sitting around a campfire. I know that’s what my friends and I would have been doing here. Hazle Brook (42 of 45)

I made my way back to the jeep, under a  now gray, cold and cloudy sky but having enjoyed exploring another part of my areas coal mining heritage. Here is a link to some more photographs I took on my hike yesterday near Hazle Brook. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/hazle-brook-d-s-s-railroad-hike-january-3-2016Hazle Brook (13 of 45)

.  “The study of the past is the main portal through which culture is acquired.”
Joseph Epstein

 

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A January Walk Near My Backyard, A Lot Of History, Memories And Natural Beauty

Happy New Year folks. It’s been a busy week and I  didn’t get a chance to get any posts up. Sorry. We got some more seasonably cold  weather here in Northeastern Pennsylvania these  past few days, and today, finally, some sunshine.railroad bridge hike (1 of 50)

I walked out through some property I own, and love, remembering some of many good times I had growing up and exploring these rocky ridges.  We hiked up and down the many  huge rock outcrops, , naming them with names we still use today, and building forts, hideouts and whatever else comes to the minds of young boys. Today I checked some of the cave hoping to find the bear that visits my  backyard. . I know he’s still around from the neighbors complaints of shredded thrash bags and nasty droppings he leaves behind.  No luck finding him, and maybe it was a good thing I didn’t,  so I headed down off the ridge on a path I have been hiking for many years.railroad bridge hike (5 of 50)

I crossed a small stream on my land which flows under  a huge leaning oak tree that we called the “coke sign’ tree since there was an old coca cola sign there when I was young. We would build campfires and play in the stream and my younger brothers and nephews also played and camped here, So many memories under this ancient oak.railroad bridge hike (7 of 50)

My property  ends near  the right of way of the old Hazleton to Wilkes-Barre electric railway or “third rail” as it was called. It later became an active feeder line of the Lehigh Valley railroad and we were always excited to hear the train coming up the tracks. The line  was closed around 30 years ago and the tracks removed a few year later. We spent many days walking those rails. All that remains is an eroded right of ways and many wonderful memories.railroad bridge hike (49 of 50)

The right of way  proceeds under an old tower line on which we would spend many a summer morning picking blueberries  or, as we called them,  huckleberries. Just recently the old steel towers south of the right of way were removed and replaced with new steel poles. Another part of my past gone but again the memories remain.railroad bridge hike (9 of 50)

The “third rail” right of way proceeded into the Valmont Industrial park. This park was built near the lands of the old Atlas powder factory and I believe the first factory was built in the late 1950’s The area was a wetland and I remember picking “swampers” high bush blue berries and seeing turtles, racoons, snakes and frogs on the sight of the newer factories.railroad bridge hike (12 of 50)

I walked out to the two  old bridges that span the Black Creek. We called them the ‘mile high” bridges since, to us kids, they sure seemed that high. The one over which the “third rail” crossed the Black Creek, the one further east, was built in around 1901,  The workmanship is remarkable.railroad bridges (22 of 22)

I hiked down to the Black Creek scaring a flock of mallard ducks in the process. I sat awhile along the creek, which a few years ago would have been most unpleasant. Most of the sewage, untreated , from the greater Hazleton area, was discharged here. The filth and smell were overwhelming.  A  sewage treatment plant was built in the 1960’s and today the creek was surprisingly clean and only had a mild odor of detergent used in the sewage treatment process. I took some photographs of this bridge and another bridge a bit to the west that also spanned the Black Creek. I am not sure which is older and hope to do some research which I will share in another blog post.   Here is a link to some more photographs of these two old bridges. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/railroad-bridges-january-2-2016railroad bridges (5 of 22)

I crawled back up to the railroad track, now an active line servicing the industrial park and walked out a bit and again hiked down to the fast flowing waters of the Black Creek., walking beneath majestic hemlocks which were sparred the ax because of their proximity to the creek. I am sure that the waters of this creek were teeming with fish and water fowl when this ancient trees were but seedlings.railroad bridge hike (28 of 50)

Although lifeless for many years, both from the discharge of sewage and acid mine drainage, a friend has said there are reports of fish returning to the creek. I sure hope they are true since it is still such a beautiful place and would be great for the fisherman to sit and relax.railroad bridge hike (27 of 50)

I then decided to find the inflow of what was once  Cranberry Creek, This Creek originated in south Hazleton and flowed near my house. Most of it’s waters now flow into the deep anthracite coal mines and drain through the famous Jeddo Tunnel into the Nescopeck Creek, polluting that once beautiful creek,  So today most of the waters entering the Black Creek here come form another beautiful waterway Stony Creek. Originating at a number of areas on Stony mountain and from the Humboldt Reservoir this stream still has native trout living in it’s water.railroad bridge hike (42 of 50)

I tried to cross the rapidly flowing waters of the Black Creek, and would have done so easily in my younger days, but decided to hike back over the bridge and then proceed back down to the Cranberry/stony Creek. This was the first time I followed the creek from it’s inflow into the Black Creek and again the natural beauty of the creek amazed me. We were blessed with so much natural wonders and we  destroyed so much of it. I could only imagine what it looked like to the first settlers in the region. I hope they appreciated it and were just a little thankful for what they were given.railroad bridge hike (38 of 50)

I made my way through the thick briars, thorn bushes and underbrush . You never know what you’re going to find in a hike in the woods and I  found the remains of these poor critter. railroad bridge hike (40 of 50)

I walked up along the creek and came to these cables that cross the creek. It has been many years since I last crossed them. When we were kids we would balance ourselves as we crossed.  Many a time we hung on for dear life when our friends on the sides would pull on the cables trying to knock us off and into the water below. Luckily I never fell in, Good times they were. railroad bridge hike (43 of 50)

I finally hiked back up to the railroad tracks and made my way back toward West Hazleton, passing many places which have provided me with so many pleasant memories over the year,  including this popular.camping spot along the railroad right of way we called “Lipper’s Grove”. We spent many an underage night drinking beers out here. Sorry mom.railroad bridge hike (48 of 50)

And so I made my way back to the  West Hazleton Babe Ruth field and up past my old high school and walked the streets back west to my house, as I had done on so many hikes in the past. It was another nice day to get out, exercise, observe and reflect on life, in northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs I took on my hike this morning. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/railroad-and-black-creek-hike-january-2-2016

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“These people have learned not from books, but in the fields, in the wood, on the river bank. Their teachers have been the birds themselves, when they sang to them, the sun when it left a glow of crimson behind it at setting, the very trees, and wild herbs.”
Anton Chekhovrailroad bridge hike (6 of 50)

 

 

 

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More Ghosts Of Our Coal Mining Past, A Foggy Hike Near Tresckow, Carbon County.

Another mild, and foggy, day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I decided to take advantage of the warm temperatures and hike in the old coal mining area between Tresckow and McAdoo. I was born in McAdoo, and lived there for my first two years, It is the town where my mom and her family grew up. .Tresckow hike  (37 of 50)

I have hiked here before, down to the famous Tresckow Falls, and heard my mom tell many stories of good times folks would have there. Tresckow hike  (1 of 50)

I parked my jeep and hiked along a tower line and came to a huge strip mine with sheer walls and cliffs over a hundred feet deep. The pit was created when the rock and overburden was removed to reveal the “black diamonds” or anthracite coal below. It was a ponderous pit.Tresckow hike  (12 of 50)

I tried walking around the strip mine pit or  “stripping” but took a few paths which just lead to the edge.  I followed one that actually almost took me to the bottom of the huge pit.Tresckow hike  (4 of 50)

It seems some local folks, probably youngsters had once camped down there.  I found a few more camping areas in my search to get around the strip mine. it reminded me of the many day my friends and I spent hiking and building camp fires in the strip mined areas near my home in Green Ridge.Tresckow hike  (5 of 50)

I eventually made my way back to the highway and walked west until I found the  old railroad right of way of the Tresckow railroad.  On my way I  found an old apple tree with some large red apples still clinging to it’s bare branches. They sure looked nice and i will have to remember to pick some next summer.Tresckow hike  (9 of 50)

I hiked the old railroad right of way back to the other side of the strip mine and headed south over a wooded area of scrub oak and pitch pines. It reminded me of the woods we hiked in as kids near my home.Tresckow hike  (11 of 50)

The path lead back to the abandoned right of way of the Tresckow railroad. I knew it was old by the stone  mile markers I found along the old railroad bed. Tresckow hike  (24 of 50)

The railroad took a slight grade downward along side the Spring Mountain. The path was shrouded in fog and was quite and peaceful.  I came to a stream flowing off the mountain and I climbed down the right of way to find this old stone culvert. I again knew this railroad right of way was built a long time ago. Tresckow hike  (28 of 50)

I did some research and learned this railroad was built in 1870 by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company .It was leased to the Central New Jersey who operated it for the next 70 years. It took coal from  the Honey Brook and Audenreid coal mines to Silver Brook and eventually the markets to the east. As I walked along the isolated, foggy right of way I thought of the men who built it, and worked on the trains and wondered if they ever experienced such mild weather in December. Tresckow hike  (31 of 50)

On a clear day there is a beautiful view of the Quakake Valley under a pole line that crosses the right of way. Today this was the only view I saw. Tresckow hike  (35 of 50)

I hiked out about 3 1/2 mikes and decided to head back. I passed the road to the famous Tresckow waterfalls, a popular picnicking place in my moms day. It is now a private outdoors club. Tresckow hike  (20 of 50)

The fog cleared as I reached the top of the mountain and approached mt jeep. It was another great day to explore the many natural and historic areas of Northeastern pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs of my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/tresckow-hike-december-27-2015Tresckow hike  (50 of 50)

 

Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. -Soren Kierkegaard

 

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