Poland Day Four: The Hotel Gorski Kalatowki: A Hiker’s, And Skier’s Paradise In The Tatra National Park.

After a jarring  five minute ride up the cobblestone road  I found myself at the   Hotel Gorski Kalatowki. I was attracted to this hotel by it’s isolation, located within the boundaries of the Tatra National Park.Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-7

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect at the hotel, but I was impressed with the beauty of the Tatra mountains. It was overcast and raining and the peaks were shrouded in clouds. They also were covered in snow. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-1

I soon learned that the area had recently had a late snowfall. I made my way up the steps of the quaint, wooden hotel, built early last century and immediately fell in love with the place.  I  was greeted by a pleasant young lady who spoke fluent English and quickly had me settled in my modest, but comfortable lodging with a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains. Poland Day five Kalatowki afternoon hotel -3

It was still raining so I donned my rain gear and headed out to explore. The young lady at the desk had suggested a hike to Kondratowa located on the slopes of the legendary Mount Giewont. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-5

After a few wrong turns, I found the trail leading to Kondratowa. At first it was an easy  downhill hike through the large meadows that surround the hotel. I noticed the many dead wild crocuses in the fields, victims of the recent cold and snow. I imagined how beautiful they would have been in full bloom on a sunny and warm day.Poland Day four Zakopane flora and fauna-10

The  narrow, and well traveled stone trail soon left the open field and I came   under a thick growth of pine trees. I loved the smell of pine in the cool mountain air.Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-46

As the trail began to climb the slopes of the nearby mountains , I soon realized that the hotel was located 1100 meters (about 3600 feet) above sea level, as I felt the effects of the altitude. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-13

The trail was covered with stones which were quite slippery in the misty light rain and drizzle that was falling. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-11

There weren’t a lot of signs of  Spring along the trail, a few green ferns,Poland Day four Zakopane flora and fauna-1

some delicate lichens growing on the tree branches,Poland Day four Zakopane flora and fauna-1

and, surprisingly, some mushrooms!  Here is a link to some more photographs of the plants, and few animals I saw on my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Four-Zakopane-Kondatrowa-flora-April-11-2017-Poland Day four Zakopane flora and fauna-6

As I climbed higher up the slopes I soon encountered snow cover which made the hiking even more difficult. However, I wanted to explore the woods of these mountains so I continued my upward hike. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-14

The snow cover deepened, and the trail itself was now icy , having been impacted from many other hikers walking over the snow the preceding  days and weeks. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-20

I soon learned how deep it was by venturing off the trail and finding myself over my knees in snow.  I wasn’t prepared for the deep snow, having worn low hiking shoes so I had to stick to the icy trail. It was a pretty exhausting hike. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-17

It got easier as I neared the shelter at Kondratowa, since there were open fields and much of the snow cover had melted. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-26Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-5

I was glad to see the shelter located 1333 meters, (almost 4400 feet) above sea level so I hiked almost 800 feet in elevation. No wonder I was tired. But the views were worth it. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-25

I met a cross country skier who also decided to stop in the shelter and warm up. It was an interesting place. I learned it had 20 beds in three rooms, available for a small fee, for hikers and skiers in the mountains. There are a number of these shelters scattered throughout the Tatra Mountains. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-27

It was staffed by a woman who spoke no English, It also provided light snacks and beverages. These shelters are very popular with the many hikers and skiers who walk and ski the multitude of trails in the national park.  Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-29

It also had a resident cat, who, like most cats did not seem to be to interested in any visitors, including me. Poland Day four Zakopane flora and fauna-2

I looked around the shelter a bit and then, since it was getting late in the afternoon,  decided to begin my journey down the mountain to my hotel.Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-31

The hike down, although easier physically, which just as difficult  as it was going up, since it was easy to lose one’s footing and slide on the snow covered rocky trails. Still, it was a nice hike and I enjoyed exploring the wooded slopes of the Tatra mountains. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-41

I was soon in the fields below my hotel, where I saw a few of these thrush like birds scampering like robins on the grassy fields.  I was glad to return to the warmth and friendly staff of the hotel. Here is a link to some more photographs of my afternoon hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Four-Kalatowki-Konratowa-hike-April-11-2017Poland Day four Zakopane flora and fauna-11

It was late in the afternoon, and I was tired, not only from my exhausting hike but also the lack of sleep. I had not been sleeping well since I arrived in Poland. I was hungry too, so after a hot shower, I sat down in the cozy dining room for dinner. And it was a good one. Starting with a bowl of hot and wholesome tomato soup with homemade noodles. Zakopane soup-1

And I also enjoyed a delicious main course of salmon and wild birch bolete mushrooms. I sat in the dining room and admired the view of the mountains still shrouded in the fog.Zakopane -2

The fog started to life after the sunset and I ventured outside in the cool mountain air to look for the full moon I knew would be rising int the east. The skies remained cloudy and so I decided to call it a day, exhausted from my long hike in the snow. However, I got up to use the bathroom and was rewarded with a quick peek of the full moon shining over the Tatra mountains. I was going to head outside but the clouds returned and hid the moon. I was glad to have had the opportunity, although only for a few minutes, to experience moonshine on the mountains of Poland. It was another great day in this country I have grown to love. Zakopane moon-1

“Take time to leave cities, at least once in a year, and go to some natural place, hills, sea, jungles, rivers, where you see nothing but nature… His creations. Where you only hear chirping of birds, clinkering of trees, murmuring of winds, splashes of water in the river, and uproar of waterfalls.” Girdhar Joshi

 

 

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Poland Day Four: Off To The Mountains; A Bus, Taxi and Van Ride to Tatra National Park

It was raining when I awoke on Tuesday morning but I wanted to take one more walk through the streets of Krakow before I headed to the mountains.  I put on my rain gear and headed out into the cool and wet morning. . It was early and there was no one on the cobblestone streets of Old Town Krakow. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-3

I liked having the old city all to myself and wanted to have one last look at the Main square and the impressive towers of St. Mary’s Basilica. It looked so different, old and  desolate in the rain,  but still impressive,  without the crowds of people. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-6

I walked down deserted Grodzka Street passing Pod Aniolami, the restaurant where I had dinner the previous night.Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-20

As I continued on  Grodska Street, there wasnow  an occasional person walking in the early morning rain. The street is closed to motor vehicle traffic, as is much of the old city. I passed  the closed shops, restaurants and businesses and past the historic St. Peter and Paul’s and St. Andrew’s churches, imagining the countless people who walked the same streets over the centuries since St Andrew’s first towered over them. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-23

I  came to Wawel Castle and the memorial of the Kaytn Forrest Massacre, stopping to again reflect on the horrible events that occurred in 1940. I found the memorial strewn with flowers. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-33

This time I turned to the left, away from the Castle and into the narrow streets of Kazimierz, the former Jewish District of Krakow. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-44

I soon came upon a synagogue, a   sign of the Jewish presence in this area, which had been continuous for almost 500 years until the NAZI occupation during World War II. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-46

Unfortunately, that presence ended with the removal of the Jewish population to the ghetto in Podgorze and ultimately, for many ,  to  the concentration camps and gas chambers. . Recently, however the area has been recovering some of it’s former atmosphere and is again regaining it’s Jewish population. It  has become a popular tourists area celebrating it’s traditional Jewish culture and remembering the horrors of the German NAZI  occupation in WWII with monuments and memorials. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-64

There are now many  Jewish restaurants and shops.as well as museums. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-52

I came upon this  memorial to those who lost their lives as a result of the hatred of the NAZI’s. I remained for  some reflection at this memorial before I had to head back to my hotel Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk through Kazimierz http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Four-Krakow-Jewish-Ghetto-Tuesday-April-11-2017-Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-62

On the way I explored the old neighborhood and  some of the old  apartment buildings.Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-68

I entered a few that left their doors ajar peeking inside and wondering about the current residents and the many folks who lived in these old structures over the years since they were built.. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-69

I continued my walk, and the rain  picked up as I made it back to the planty and my hotel. Here is a link to some more photographs from my morning walk. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Four-Krakow-morning-walk-Tuesday-April-11-2017Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-71

After another delicious breakfast of traditional Polish foods I said farewell to the staff and took a taxi to the bus station.  I arrived five minutes before the bus was scheduled to leave and discovered there were no bathrooms on the bus. I asked the driver if I had time to run to the bathroom and he said no. It was going to be an interesting trip. Poland Day four Krakow to Zakopane -1

The bus had only a few passengers as we made are way through the morning rush hour traffic of Krakow. Poland Day four Krakow to Zakopane -7

The sun broke through the clouds as we drove into the suburbs, which, like I found all over the world, contained large shopping centers, automobile dealerships and restaurants. Poland Day four Krakow to Zakopane -10

We were soon, for a short while,  on major highway, but this didn’t last long. We were headed  south into the mountains and soon entered more rural areas and the highway became two lanes and more congested with trucks and rural traffic. Poland Day four Krakow to Zakopane -13

The rain returned as we made our way through the   pretty countryside.Poland Day four Krakow to Zakopane -21

I was surprised by the amount of construction in the many small towns we passed. And the roadsides had plenty of billboards advertising the many goods and services common to all of the modern world. Like it or not, we are becoming a global community. Poland Day four Krakow to Zakopane -38

I enjoyed the approximately 2 1/2 hour bus ride. I liked watching the countryside of a new country, however, the lack of a bathroom was the only drawback.Poland Day four Krakow to Zakopane -31

We were soon within the picturesque town of Zakopane, with its famous, and beautiful wooden homes. This is a ski resort town in the Winter and a base for hiking in the Tatra Mountains in the Summer. and like all tourists towns it had it’s share of shops, restaurants and travel agencies. Poland Day four Krakow to Zakopane -39

I was dropped off at the small bus station, and, of course immediately found a bathroom. I had my two zloty ready since almost all public bathrooms charge two zloty, about 50 cents in US dollars,   for admission. After my much needed visit to the bathroom, I hired a taxi, and failing to communicate, he spoke not a word of English, I called my hotel and they advised him where to drop me off.Poland Day four Krakow to Zakopane -42

I was staying at the Hotel Gorski Kalatowki located within the boundary of the Tatra National Park.  To get there I first had to travel about three miles to the tiny town of Kuznice. There are no private roads to this town and you must take a bus or a taxi.  Located within the town is a cable car that ascends the Tatra Mountains to the summit of Kasprowy. It is used by skiers and hikers throughout the year. The cab driver, not speaking a word of English drove me there to have a look. He seemed quite proud of it. Poland Day four Krakow to Zakopane -45

The town of Kuznice  appears to have been deserted, and the taxi driver dropped off me and  my luggage and left me, alone, at this road at the edge of town.  It was raining lightly and I was sure hoping someone from the hotel would show up. Poland Day four Krakow to Zakopane -49

They did. I was relieved when a van came down the cobblestone road and stopped to assist me with my luggage. The fellow  driving the van spoke no English and did not appear to be too happy. He directed me to the rear of the van where I sat on a bench as we made it up a steep, wet cobblestone road. I soon learned why he wasn’t happy.Poland Day four Krakow to Zakopane -50

The road soon turned to snow and I am sure it wasn’t easy driving in the snow, up a steep incline on a cobblestone road. The ride was most interesting.  Here is a link to some more photographs from my bus ride from Krakow to the Hotel Gorski Kakatowki. . http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Four-Krakow-morning-walk-Tuesday-April-11-2017

Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-2

 

We live in a world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open. – Jawaharlal Nehru

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Most Of The Snow Is Gone, But Still It’s Not Looking Like Spring At The PPL Wetlands.

The bitter cold arctic weather we have had after the snow storm last week left the area yesterday. It was a mild 55 degrees near my house, here,  in Northeastern Pennsylvania,  this morning.  I decided to head  to the PPL Wetlands, along the Susquehanna River., about 25 miles from my home.  It is at a lower elevation  and  it is usually warmer there.  I hoped all of the snow cover would be gone. PPL Wetlands -29

I arrived at the wetlands under cloudy skies and was surprised to find the temperature a much cooler 43 degrees. Fortunately, most of the heavy snow cover , almost 20 inches, had melted leaving behind a lot of mud and some flooded paths.PPL Wetlands -7

It sure didn’t look like Spring in the wetlands. In fact, it was more springlike in January and February this year than it was today.  PPL Wetlands -5

There were no turtles along the ponds nor was the sound of the spring peeper frogs heard. And  the skunk cabbage, which were pushing through the soil in late January  hadn’t grown, and in fact a lot of their leaves were damaged by the heavy snow. They are hardy plants, often pushing there way through, and melting the snow cover, but 20 inches of late snow was too much, even for them. And the snow must have been hard on  the wildlife too, I have never seen  a partially eaten skunk cabbage  before. PPL Wetlands -10

It was still brown and barren along the ponds and canals, with only the maples showing some signs of putting forth buds. PPL Wetlands -3

There was, however, plenty of wildlife activity. I scared two deer,   or I should say we scared each other, as we met unexpectedly on one of the paths.  They took off in opposite directions. PPL Wetlands -6

I also saw many ducks on the ponds and canals. Wood ducks, and a few other species I couldn’t identify, including many like these two,   eluded my camera, taking off before I could photograph them. PPL Wetlands birds -3

The mallard  ducks were not so easily scared and I watched and photographed quite a few of them along the canals . PPL Wetlands -24

And, of course there were plenty of  Canada geese.PPL Wetlands birds -10

As I walked to the river lands side of the preserve, I saw quite a few birds too, including, I think,  this song sparrow as well as a few beautiful  blue birds, one is shown above as the featured image of this post. PPL Wetlands birds -16

Overhead, I saw this sea gull soaring through the cloudy sky. PPL Wetlands birds -10

And this, I believe, cormorant.PPL Wetlands birds -9

There were a few folks walking along the always peaceful shores of Lake Took-A-While and I stopped to enjoy the scenery too. PPL Wetlands -19

I ran into a lot more mud, and snow,  as the trail continued east toward and would wind it’s way down to the river.PPL Wetlands -22

I  found my waterproof shoes were taking on water and noticed  a small tear in the stitching. It was time to head back.  You will notice I also had shorts on, not a good idea in the colder temperatures along the river.  PPL Wetlands -12

The abundance of mud, I believe, was  also the reason for the abundance of this welcome Spring birds, the robins. There were  many of them hopping on the ground in search of  a meal. PPL Wetlands birds -8

I made my way back to the wetlands and continued to see plenty ducks and geese on the canals and ponds. And along the path there was also a lot of  bird activity. I heard the rapping of many woodpeckers and saw a few, such as, I believe, this downy woodpecker. PPL Wetlands birds -13

And they left some tangible evidence of their activity, like these newly created holes in a tree along the path. PPL Wetlands -20

I also came upon, mainly in heavily wooded areas, some ponds that were still frozen over,  due to being shaded fro the strengthening March sun. Hopefully, next time I visit this I will see turtles and frogs in this pond. PPL Wetlands -28

I made my way back to my car, walking along the Susquehanna River. I continued to see, and hear, many species of birds, including nuthatches, robins, sparrows, and woodpeckers including a pileated and this, I believe to be, a red bellied woodpecker. Here is a link to some more photographs of the many birds I encountered on my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-birds-March-25-2017PPL Wetlands birds -21

I also ran into a father with his two young sons, maybe two and three years old. He had binoculars and was also watching the birds and other wildlife, and passing his love for nature on to his boys. It was a nice encounter and  reminded me of my dad taking me and my brothers on our first walks into the woodlands of Northeastern Pennsylvania. He taught me to appreciate the beauty of nature and it was one of the best lessons I ever had. Thanks dad. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk in the wetlands. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-March-25-2017-PPL Wetlands birds -7

“As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unself- consciously to the soughing of the trees.” Valerie Andrews 

 

 

 

 

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It’s Sure Not Looking Like Spring In The Lehigh River Gorge

I knew my hiking options would be limited this weekend. We still have around 20 inches of snow on the ground here in Northeastern Pennsylvania,  a gift from the late season snow storm named Stella. And it was snowing again this morning!  I decided to hike the D & L trail in the Lehigh River Gorge State Park at the entrance near the little town of Rockport. Lehigh gorge -1

I chose this trail since it allows snowmobiles.  These recreational vehicles compact the deep snow cover. making for easier hiking. I was hoping there was at least one snowmobile enthusiast out on the trail since the storm.  I knew it would be hard walking in the  snow when I saw these two deer having a hard  time getting around in the snow drifts. Lehigh gorge -2

I made it down the steep road to the parking area along the Lehigh River and found two other automobiles so I wasn’t the only one down here like I was a few weeks ago. Lehigh gorge -4

I was relieved to find that there were snowmobile tracks on the trails and I began my hike by heading  eastward on the trail.Lehigh gorge -9

I found there were more ice formations on the cliffs along the river today than there were in January. Lehigh gorge -11

After about a quarter mile I came to Buttermilk Falls which was not frozen and had much more water cascading down it’s cliffs than my last visit. Lehigh gorge -15

I walked past a couple walking their dog and didn’t see another person  for the next three miles. There also wasn’t much wildlife out either. I saw a small hawk darting in and out of the threes along the gorge, a few nuthatches, black-capped chickadees and this woodpecker. i wasn’t sure if it was a downy or hairy. Lehigh gorge -22

I enjoyed listening to the roar of the river below the trail that followed the old railroad right of way. I walked by the ruins of the old locks that were part of the Lehigh Canal but I didn’t venture off the trail to explore them, as I always do, because of the deep snow. Lehigh gorge -27

I walked out about 3 miles, to Mud Run, where it flows into the Lehigh and the exhibits on the Mud Run train disaster that occurred near here in 1880. I did a blog post on the massacre and it can be found in the archives of my blog. Lehigh gorge -33

I decided to leave the compacted snow of the trail and venture down to the Lehigh River. It wasn’t easy. The snow was up to my knees, and even higher in some drifts. But the walk was worth it. Lehigh gorge -35

I  always enjoy sitting next to water, whether it is a pond, lake creek, river or ocean. Today I had to sit on a wet rock but i still enjoyed the view, and the sound of the flowing water. Lehigh gorge -39

As some of you who read my blog on a regular basis may know,  I love trains and I was rewarded for my efforts to get down to the river when I heard an approaching train. I watched the locomotive pass, the engineer honked his horn at me, followed by almost 100 tankers. Here is a video I posted on my YouTube channel. https://youtu.be/-MT8LTMzFeoLehigh Gorge rockport 114

After the train passed I trudged back up to the trail and finally saw two persons riding their snow mobiles on the trail. Lehigh Gorge rockport 131

Even with the snow being compacted from the snowmobiles it  wasn’t easy walking, there being an inch or two of lose snow atop the compacted snow. It was a long  and exhausting walk back. I am still sore as I type this. Lehigh gorge -29

Still it was nice to get out and enjoy the beauty of the aftermath of the storm. Lehigh gorge -18

At least the snow had stopped and the temperatures were not too bad, staying  near the freezing mark.  Evidence of this would be the leaves of the many rhododendron  growing along the trail. In frigid temperatures their leaves curl up but not today.Lehigh gorge -21

I passed another couple on snowshoes before I arrived at me car. So this time I was not alone in the gorge, like my last visit, there were seven other people out enjoying the beauty of the Lehigh River. Hopefully, this blog may encourage some other folks to head out in  snow, and enjoy, what I am hoping is the last winter storm for at least another year. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike .http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Lehigh-River-Gorge-hike-march-18-2017-Lehigh gorge -26

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.” Norman Maclean,

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March Madness In Northeastern Pennsylvania. A Record Breaking Snow Storm.

For those of you following my blog, you have been reading the reports in my posts on how mild the winter was here in Northeastern Pennsylvania this year . That changed when  arctic cold plunged into our area last weekend.  And we got a real taste of Winter with a record breaking snowfall this past week.blizzard walk-22

The snow storm began in the early hours on Tuesday morning. When I awoke and went for my morning walk. there was were about six inches of snow on the ground. I will have to admit, that, while not easy walking the snow covered roads, it did look pretty.  I didn’t have my camera on that first walk but, later in the day, around noon, I did venture out again, this time with my camera. I now  found almost 15 inches of snow on the ground. blizzard walk-37

The roads were not yet plowed because of the intensity of the falling snow and so I struggled along following the tire tracks of the few brave cars that ventured out in the storm Walking was not easy. . blizzard walk Marh 15 morning -1

I took my usual route  past my mom’s house,  on, appropriately named, Winter’s Avenue, past the large drifts of snow covering cars and most everything else in a blanket of white. blizzard walk-15

I walked past Kresock’s hill which, when I was a child would have been covered with youngsters sledding down it’s steep incline.blizzard walk-17

I had a hard time walking on the un-plowed road and decided to head home when I reached the Mountain View cemetery.blizzard walk-33

The snow was still falling at the rate of  an inch an hour so not many folks were out shoveling or snow blowing. But there were a few brave souls  challenging the storm and getting an early start on the unwelcome task of snow removal . Here is a link to some more photographs from my second walk the first day of the storm. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Morning-walk-blizzard-March-14-2017-blizzard walk-30

I made it home and spent the rest of the afternoon  watching the snow fall and photographing the many birds that showed up at my feeders and on my deck. Please check out my previous posts for some more photographs and comments about  the birds. Here is a link to the photographs. birds -10http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Birds-in-backyard-March-14-2017-

The snow finally let up later in the afternoon, leaving a little over of 20 inches on the ground, an all time one day snowfall record. I took another walk to see how the storm impacted the neighborhood. blizzard walk Marh 14 afternoon -20

This time, with the main roads having been plowed, it was much easier walking. I also found a lot more folks out shoveling or snow blowing their sidewalks and driveways and shoveling their cars out of the snow drifts. blizzard walk Marh 14 afternoon -3

I walked up to the main street in West Hazleton, Broad Street, and found it to be passable but those who ventured out were driving slowly .blizzard walk Marh 14 afternoon -13

I made my way back, walking into the  northeasterly, and cold,  wind, which meant the storm was ending and  that there would be a lot of drifting overnight. Here is a link to some more photographs from my afternoon walk.http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Snowstorm-Tuesday-evening-walk-March-14-2017blizzard walk Marh 14 afternoon -28

The next morning I awoke a snow covered and cloud shrouded world as I took my daily morning walk. blizzard walk Marh 15 morning -2

The roads were plowed and, for the most part passable, but still did not provide for not the best of driving, or walking  conditions. The schools and many businesses were closed. blizzard walk Marh 15 morning -11

Most of the cars were still covered under drifts of snow. blizzard walk Marh 15 morning -12

I again walked up to Broad Street and, although the roads were passable there were still some spots that drifted over with snow and hard to get through.blizzard walk Marh 15 morning -18

Snow removal was going to be difficult because of the strong winds, and frigid temperatures. It was 12 degrees when I left on my walk. I found my office was still not shoveled out.blizzard walk Marh 15 morning -22

I walked home, into the wind, chatting with some of the folks digging out from the storm. I learned when I returned home that there was a state of emergency declared and we decided to close out office for the day. Here is a link to some more photographs from my morning walk.http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Snowstorm-Wednesday-morning-walk-March-15-2017-blizzard walk Marh 15 morning -17

I sat and again watched the birds that visited my feeder and my nephew Mikey who came over and did  a good job snow blowing my drive way. I wasn’t going to sit in the house all day, and after checking out my office and having lunch with my nephew Charlie I again went out for an afternoon  walk  to see how the community was digging out form the storm. afternoon walk -25

A lot of people were still waiting for the local municipalities to finish up the difficult task of plowing and opening up main streets before they began shoveling out their own houses and automobiles. afternoon walk -19

Some youngsters were taking advantage of the snowy conditions to use their recreational quads to help plow the snow. blizzard walk Marh 14 afternoon -8

As I walked through the snow covered streets, observing how nature, with one storm, could upset our well organized modern lives.  I realized how insignificant we really our, as short term visitors on this beautiful planet we live.  blizzard walk-6

I returned home, after having been inconvenienced for two days, with an even deeper appreciation for the beauty of nature, even when it is at it’s worst. Still, I looked forward to the approaching Spring and the warm weather it will bring.  And this welcome sight assured me, that despite this setback, and return of Winter, the days of cold and snow are ending, Spring is almost here!  Here is a link to some more photographs from my afternoon hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/snow-storm-Wednesday-afternoon-wlak-March-15-2017-

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“The snow doesn’t give a soft white damn whom it touches.”
E.E. Cummings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Snow And A Snow Moon In The Mountain View Cemetery

Well,  Winter returned to Northeastern Pennsylvania today.  It has been a mild, and pretty much snow free, Winter so far this year  but about four to six inches of snow fell today.  And, after the snow ended, a strong northwesterly wind brought in some clearing, and  frigid  temperatures.   Mountain View Cemetery -1

I am not a big fan of snow anymore. I don’t like walking in it. However, the brilliant sunshine that we had this afternoon, and the new snowfall, persuaded me to take my camera on my walk after work and I headed to the nearby Mountain View Cemetery. Mountain View Cemetery -4

I have been visiting this cemetery for many years. My mom would take my siblings and I  for walks here for as long as I can remember, during the Summer months. It has  many different species of trees and is beautiful in all seasons, including the Winter, especially after a newly fallen snow. Mountain View Cemetery -15

I walk here everyday now,  to visit my dad, since he was buried here over three years ago.  Mountain View Cemetery -20

It is a peaceful place and I often sit here on this bench and reflect on my many wonderful memories of dad. It was windy and 20 degrees this afternoon so I wasn’t going to sit in the cold but just said hello. Mountain View Cemetery -19

I walked through  the cemetery  , having become familiar with many of the tomb stones, trees and mausoleum, and enjoyed them now that they were covered in the fresh, powdery snow. Mountain View Cemetery -28

I left the cemetery to visit my mom, who lives a few blocks away. After my visit I returned to my home and found I found i had a few visitors at the deer block I put out. Mountain View Cemetery moon -1

I watched the deer for  a while and decided to walk back to the cemetery and watch the almost full snow moon rising in the east. Mountain View Cemetery moon -16

It was cold and windy, the temperatures dropped into the mid teens, but I enjoyed watching the moon peek in and out of the clouds in the cold, but peaceful twilight in the cemetery. Mountain View Cemetery moon -6

I also observed my favorite planet, Venus, shining brilliantly in the western sky. Mountain View Cemetery moon -13

I would have stayed out here , despite the cold and wind, but my observations of the moon, planets and stars was ended by an increasing cloud cover. I have to say, I really didn’t mind the return of winter today, but I am glad the forecast ic calling for the return of milder weather this weekend. And I  am still looking forward to Spring which is only 39 days away., not that I am counting,  Here is a link to some more photographs from my walks this afternoon and evening. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Mountain-View-Cemetery-February-9-2017-Mountain View Cemetery moon -14

The wastes of snow on the hill were ghostly in the . The stars were piercingly bright.” 

Maud Hart Lovelace

 

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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. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/PPL-Wetlands-hike-January-14-2017-

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

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A Short Year End Wintry Walk Near Home.

Another year is coming to and end, and more often than not, it is either cold, snowy or both here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Today we had both, a two inch snow cover on the ground and a seasonably cold 32 degrees. hike-2

The clouds that blocked the sun most of the day were breaking up late in the afternoon and I decided to leave my office a bit early to enjoy the sunshine. hike-6

The sun is now slowly moving north but still is low in the southern sky. This low angle makes for some beautiful sunsets so I headed out to the mine reclamation area near my house  in hopes of seeing one. hike-5

When i left on my walk it was still partly cloudy but, when the sun shone through the clouds it illuminated the now bare trees, such as this willow. hike-4

I walked past some ponds which are now covered with a still thin layer of ice. No frogs, birds, or even squirrels were stirring today. So different from the Summer. hike-12

And no green to be seen either. Only the white newly fallen snow and the frozen remains of the summer vegetation, hike-7

including the dried berry clusters of the staghorn sumac hike-14

and the cattails. hike-16

I made it to the reclamation area, once an area of strip mines that was our  playground, but  now a good place to watch the sunset during the Winter months, before it heads to the north of the Ridge in early Spring. hike-18

Some clouds moving in from the west obscured the setting sun but it was still was, as they always are, a pretty sight. hike-21

After the sun went down, and I walked back home in he approaching darkness, I a peaceful, primeval feeling came over me. I enjoyed the cold and solitude and thought how people must have walked in the cold and dark before there electric lights and flashlights. hike-30

I thought how much more they must have enjoyed the stars and planets in the sky and a warm fire in their homes. I don’t have a fireplace in my house to enjoy but I did get a glimpse of brilliant Venus in a patch of clear sky overhead. hike-1

And walking in the cold and dark gave me a good feeling as I approached my home, and the warmth that awaited me inside. I am not a big fan of  Winter, I dislike the long dark nights more than the cold and snow. I prefer the greens of Summer when life is everywhere. But I will admit I do enjoy an evening walk on a cold Winter’s afternoon like today.  Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike this afternoon. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/Year-end-hike-sunset-December-30-2016hike-34

 

It is not easy to walk alone in the country without musing upon something. ~Charles Dickenshike-32

 

 

 

 

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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. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/PPL-Wetlands-hike-December-11-2016-

 

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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

 

ppl-wetlands-29

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A Walk Through Green Ridge After A Snowstorm.

The snow ended late yesterday leaving us here in the Green Ridge section  of Hazle Township in Northeast Pennsylvania  with almost twenty inches of snow on the ground. It was clear and a frigid 9 degrees when I left for my daily two mile morning  hike.Green Ridge snowstorm  (2 of 58)

The roads were plowed and passable as I walked under the crystal clear, deep blue skies. There were a lot of folks out shoveling and snow throwing the deep powdery snow.Green Ridge snowstorm  (7 of 58)

The section of Hazle Township called  Green Ridge actually refers not only to my area in Hazle Township but also to the western portion of West Hazleton. I walked by  my parent’s house and up to North Street, and passed  the homes of middle class folks, and also  the historic Pulaski Club, established by Polish coal miners in 1915.  This area was once almost all of Slavic , and mainly Polish heritage , but is now home to a mixture of nationalities.Green Ridge snowstorm  (18 of 58)

I usually crawl through a fence in the Mountain View Cemetery and walk through this peaceful tree lined place to visit my dad’s grave.  Not today, the hole in the fence was covered with snow so I walked along the cemetery and into West Hazleton.Green Ridge snowstorm  (19 of 58)

Again I ran into a lot of folks digging out from the snow as I walked the streets of this quiet town. I headed east along Ridge Ave, observing the beauty of the snow drifts created by the storm.Green Ridge snowstorm  (14 of 58)

I walked to Broad Street, the border of the Green Ridge section and headed back west walking past my church, formerly known as Transfiguration. Lot of memories on these streets.Green Ridge snowstorm  (41 of 58)

I walked back to the entrance of the Mountain View Cemetery and trudged through the heavy snow and into a winter wonderland. The gravestones and bare trees  contrasted with the deep blue skies and the pure white snow.Mountain View Cemetery  (11 of 20)

I made my way to my dad’s grave and spent a few moments reflecting on the many good times we enjoyed together during the many snow storms we shared over the years. I find much peace out here. This is a link to some more photographs from my visit to the cemetery  Mountain View Cemetery  (12 of 20)

I trudged back through the deep snow and back to the streets of West Hazleton.  I walked past my old alma mater, West Hazleton High School, now used as an elementary school. I walked the streets back to my home. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk through the streets of Green Ridge, Green Ridge snowstorm  (46 of 58)

After warming up, and  a  few cup of coffee, I headed back out to the woods on my property behind my house. It wasn’t easy going but the deep blue skies and white snow once again made for a Winter wonderland . And of course I had to built a fire to keep warm. There is something so comforting about a fire crackling in the snow on a frigid January day.  After warming up by the fire I trudged my way back home. I am not a snow or Winter fan but I will have to admit it was a pleasant morning, even with almost two feet of snow on the ground.  Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike in the woods. Green Ridge hike  (10 of 15)

When snow falls, nature listens – Antoinette van KleeffGreen Ridge hike  (12 of 15)

 

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