Weatherly Railroad Tracks, Penrose Reservoir And A New Old Trail

Yesterday  morning started out mild and cloudy,  the  air  filled with the smell of the rain we had over night. I was going to take  a short hike close to home because of some afternoon plans, but they changed, and I  decided to hike out to the always picturesque Penrose reservoir near Weatherly.Weatherly railroad Penrose hike April 23 2016-1

I have posted a few blogs about this historic area, so vital to the coal industry. Here is a link to one of them  and you can look up the others in the archives. I hiked up the railroad tracks from the quaint litle own of Weatherly along the fast moving waters of the Hazle  or Black creek. This is a link to a video of the waters rushing in the creek. railroad Penrose hike April 23 2016-10

The trees were still mainly bare but there was some green and white blossoms starting to show up.More sure to come soon. Weatherly pipeline hike April 23 2016-7

I walked the approximately 2 1/2 miles to the reservoir, crossing the old bridge on the Hazle  creek, where the Beaver Meadows, Buck Mountain and Lehigh Valley railroads met. Lot of history in this spot.  The clouds began to break and blue sky appeared just as I approached the reservoir.Weatherly railroad Penrose hike April 23 2016-24

I was hoping to see some water fowl on the reservoir. I have seen American bitterns, mallards, wood ducks and ospreys on the reservoir but today only these two geese were enjoying the  pretty view.Weatherly railroad Penrose hike birds April 23 2016-3

Instead of walking the tracks back I decided to follow the Penrose creek  as it flowed from the reservoir. It flows under the railroad tracks through this very old rock tunnel , probably built the same time as the railroad right of way,  I think before  the 1860’s.Weatherly railroad Penrose hike April 23 2016-26

The creek flowed through a  flat clear swamp  where I found many “swamper” or highbush blueberry growing. It will be a long walk to get here to pick them but I may be spending a lot more time in this swamp in the summer. I enjoy picking “swampers” and giving the berries to family and friends. Weatherly railroad Penrose hike   April 23 2016-27

I didn’t  run into much wildlife, a few squirrels, crows, robins a cardinal  and a lot of black capped chickadees. Weatherly railroad Penrose hike birds    April 23 2016-2

I followed the meandering stream to where it flowed into the waters of the Hazle Creek which originated near the Dreck Creek Reservoir and Donegal Hill section of Hazleton. I believe that Native Americans may have used these streams to make their way from the Lehigh River to the Nescopeck Creek and the Susquehanna River. Weatherly railroad Penrose hike   April 23 2016-28

I followed the creek back to the railroad tracks and found this campsite with trash thrown around. It is a shame some people just   have no respect for these pristine areas. Weatherly railroad Penrose hike   April 23 2016-31

At the Hazle Junction bridge I hiked out the old Buck Mountain railroad right of way to some ponds and wetlands. I had found geese nesting in this area before and blue herons, duck and even s few bear. Only thing I saw yesterday was these mallards on one of the ponds. I walked out to the pole line nearby and made my way back to the railroad tracks. Weatherly railroad Penrose hike   April 23 2016-35

I found the remains of a few critters who didn’t make it through the winter including a turtle, a deer and this animal I’m not able to identify. I am thinking maybe a raccoon.Weatherly railroad Penrose hike   April 23 2016-14

At the Hazle Junction bridge I noticed a trail  that I somehow never saw before on my many walks along these railroad tracks. I investigated and discovered that the old water line bringing water from the Penrose reservoir ran along the trail. Weatherly pipeline hike   April 23 2016-1

Of course I had to find out where it went and found it ascended the mountain and ran parallel and above the railroad tracks. It was a nice walking path and ran along huge boulders and rocks. I am wondering if this was an old railroad line since it seems like it took a lot of time and effort to cut through those rocks for just a waterline. Weatherly pipeline hike   April 23 2016-9

I scared many a turkey vulture who were roosting in the trees along the ridge and they were not very happy to be disturbed from their sunny perches. Weatherly railroad Penrose hike birds    April 23 2016-5

The trail overlooked the railroad track, which kept getting further below as it  climbed higher along the ridge . I enjoyed some nice views of the Broad mountain and the town of Weatherly from up there. Weatherly pipeline hike   April 23 2016-14

I love taking new paths and  I was curious where it would bring me. I continued along the ridge, passing huge  rock formations. I also walked under and along these  old hemlock, oak and very old black birch trees. Weatherly pipeline hike   April 23 2016-8

I came upon this old building that must have been a pumping station when the waterline was in use. There was also an old pond next to it and I would guess many a young boy, and maybe a few girls made there way up here for a quick dip on the hot summer days of years past. Weatherly pipeline hike   April 23 2016-18

The trail made it’s way down the mountain and ended near the highway were the famous Weatherly Hill climb begins. Here is a link to some more photographs I took along this new, old trail I discovered.  April 23 2016-2

I walked into town passing an the active foundry which I learned from this plaque was opened in 1900. I walked back to my jeep  past the many old buildings associated with Weatherly industrial past. So much history here but that will be for another blog. Weatherly  April 23 2016-4

I was hoping to capture a lot more photographs of some wildlife but it was still a nice walk, it always is this time of year, and I am glad I found a new trail to hike. i am pretty sure I will run into some critters up there some day, if I keep my eyes peeled. Well it’s a beautiful Sunday morning here in Northeastern Pennsylvania and I am off to see what’s out there. Have a great day. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike yesterday.Weatherly railroad Penrose hike   April 23 2016-22 railroad Penrose hike   April 23 2016-25

“Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.”― Erol Ozan



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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. 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. 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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Crystal Ridge: More Coal Mining Photographs And A Lot Of Memories Of My Dad.

It was a cloudy, but mild, late November day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania yesterday.  I was thinking a lot about my dad lately, the holidays are hard without him.  I decided to visit the woods  where he first took me and my brothers when he taught us to pick mushrooms and instilled in me a love of nature. I will never forget those  many wonderful hours spent in the woods near his home in the mining patch town of Crystal Ridge.Crystal Ridge (2 of 55)

Crystal Ridge was one of the first coal mining “patch” towns in the Hazleton area and was named for the many quartz crystals found there.  My dad had found a number of them in the large strip mine behind his house in crystal Ridge, known as Baisley’s stripping. He took me, my brother and my friends down the deep pit a few times searching for them.  However, most of the nicer ones were already gone.Crystal Ridge strip mine  (13 of 14)

I spent some time along the banks of  this huge strip mine thinking of all the good times my dad told me he had growing up here.  He, and the others kids in the town would ice skate and  sled down the banks  in the winter and swim in the summer. He said there was always a fire going in the bottom of the pit where he and his friends would gather after school.  They were simpler, and I think, better days. Here is a link to some more photographs of Baisley’s stipping. Ridge strip mine  (11 of 14)

I walked along the old haul road which we would drive in to pick wild mushrooms when I was very young. It was along this road where he would tell us to “keep our eyes peeled’ as we drove slowly looking for mushrooms on our drive in. He also took us here to search for duck flowers, “honeysuckle” flowers and  huckleberries or blueberries. Crystal Ridge (7 of 55)

I walked over the old Cranberry Creek, which year ago flowed from  near the Grape run reservoir to Stony Creek and eventually the Black Creek. In now flows into this stip mine pit and into the  underground mines, exiting miles away through the Jeddo Tunnel into the Nescopeck  Creek. Crystal Ridge (9 of 55)

One Summer when I was young some young men ‘borrowed” some dynamite and blew up the dam at the Grape Run reservoir causing this section of the road to be washed out with the torrent of water that flowed from the reservoir. Here is a photo I took later of the remains of the dam. Crystal Ridge (45 of 55)

I walked to the old mining roads were we wouldroam the banks of the strip mines looking for the “red top” and “cozie” mushrooms that grew under the birch and aspen trees.  So many good memories in this woods. My dad took us out and built my first campfire and cooked hot dogs near here when I was four or five years old. Crystal Ridge (28 of 55)

My dad would let me and my younger brother John walk, alone,  through these woods while he went down the strip mines looking for mushrooms growing on the banks. We would meet near these old culvert on an old railroad right of way. Crystal Ridge (20 of 55)

There were a lot of old strip mines in this area, the ones first dug with the small “steam shovels’ powered with steam. Later , larger gas and diesel powered and electric powered steam shovels created the massive strip mines now found in this area. But before the strip mining occurred this area was honeycombed with underground mines. My dad would take us to the old Number 22 mine shafts were his uncle worked the hoist. Crystal Ridge 22 mine shaft  (6 of 26)

We spent many hours here resting and enjoying the tasty apples on an old apple tree that probably sprouted from seeds from a miner’s apple he had for lunch. Here is a link to some more photographs of the Number 22 shaft.

I hiked out to near Crystal Ridge 22 mine shaft  (25 of 26) the Interstate 81 highway where, we would hear the dogs barking in the nearby patch town of Harwood, across a huge strip mine. I roamed the many paths and trails retracing the mushrooms walks of my youth. So many happy memories. Crystal Ridge 22 mine shaft  (26 of 26)

I got back on the wide haul road, used by the large steam shovels and uke trucks which hauled the overburden and coal from the strip mines. I also learned to drive on these roads. Crystal Ridge (49 of 55)

I walked up to the old D. S. & S. railroad spur that eventually made it’s way to the patch town and coal breaker in Oneida. It was inactive when we would pick mushrooms in the area and scenes from the Molly Maguires movie were filmed along these tracks in the 1960’s. You can still find old the ruins of mining structures and building in the area. Crystal Ridge (39 of 55)

Finally I made my way to the Grape Run reservoir which supplied drinking  water to the local patch towns and water to wash the coal at the Cranberry coal breaker.  My dad would walk here every morning when he was a kid and he and his dog Count would swim in the smaller dam near here. We would visit here often on our mushroom picking hikes. Crystal Ridge (43 of 55)

I head back to my jeep , with the skyline of Hazleton  in the distance, with many memories of happy days in these woods and strip mine in my mind. It was a very pleasant hike. Some more photographs of my hike in this link. Ridge (55 of 55)


“The past beats inside me like a second heart.”
John Banville





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A Hike On An Abandoned Stretch Of The D. S. & S. Railroad, Known To Me As The Stony Mountain Black Road.

Another cold and  mostly sunny day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, but today I was able to get out and enjoy that sunshine.  I decided to hike out the Stony mountain black road, as it was known by the folks living in Green Ridge,  my hometown, when  I was growing up. As I have now  learned it was once a stretch of the Coxe Brothers railroad, the D. S. & S. railroad. I found another section on my hike in the Heights section of hazleton last Sunday.Stoney Mountain (26 of 50)

I walked this road many times from my house in the Green Ridge section of Hazle township, starting when I was in high school.  As a kid growing up in Green Ridge we heard many stories of the campsites  along the three creeks that flowed off Stony mountain and crossed the black road.  We got a topographic map and learned they were  simply named First, Second and Third creek.Stoney Mountain (18 of 50)

Today I started at the other end of the black road,  where it intersects with the Weston road.  The railroad once ran out to Derringer, Gown and Rock Glen, transporting coal from the Coxe mines to the terminal at Roan junction, where I hiked last Sunday. I am not sure when the trains stopped running but today there is little evidence that a railroad track once was here. this is one of the  only remains. A cistern used for storing water for the steam engines.  Stoney Mountain (15 of 50)

I walked due east, toward Hazleton, on the old railroad grade, It is now rutted and large puddles have formed the first half mile. Stony mountain is to the south  and this portion of the road is owned be Eagle Rock, a residential development. I dread to hike up there since I am sure the forests I once knew are now gone, giving way to roads and houses.Stoney Mountain (8 of 50)

As I walked east I crossed a steep gas line, where, many years ago we tried sledding down the steep grade, it wasn’t a very good idea. The road became somewhat walkable again and I crossed the last of the three creeks we knew as Third Creek. Stoney Mountain (12 of 50)

After about a mile hike I reached the pole and tower lines that cross the black road. This is as far as I would hike from Green Ridge, heading up the steep road along the pole line and to the road leading to the Humboldt reservoir. The view from up there was spectacular. I spent many hours sitting on those rocks taking in the view. Stoney Mountain (25 of 50)

Today I walked down to the Black Creek. This has always been the creek where the sewage from the city of Hazleton and surrounding areas was discharged. It is now treated and smells of detergent. it smelled a lot worse when I walked out here many years ago.Stoney Mountain (30 of 50)

i found the remains of what looks like a bridge and wondered if the old railroad may have crossed the creek here. If anyone knows anything about this pleas feel free to comment.Stoney Mountain (13 of 50)

I headed back to the black road and found the the next portion of the road has become a stream. i found that a portion of Second Creek now flows over the old railroad right of way.Stoney Mountain (44 of 50)

Second creek used to be a popular camp ground. I never camped here but heard many stories of the good times that many generations of Green Ridge residents shared here. I often came upon a warm camp fire .Stoney Mountain (2 of 50)

Today the area looks like it was not used in many years but the forest still echo with the laughter of those good times.Stoney Mountain (17 of 50)

The road became easily walkable. again and the forests became thicker with larger oak, hemlock and pine trees. I spent many an hour sitting under these large pine threes reflecting on my life and my  future.Stoney Mountain (32 of 50)

The road passes a second gas line and a single pole lines, both ascending steeply up stony mountain. I huffed and puffed my way up both of them many a day in the past. but not today I wanted to reach the end so I walked on.Stoney Mountain (19 of 50)

I now passed the last of the the  creeks, First Creek and the road now narrowed as it made it;s way along stony mountain to the south and a steep ravine in which the black Creek flows to the north.Stoney Mountain (28 of 50)

The last mile before the road begins at Interstate 81 is my favorite part of the hike. Huge rocks and boulders now protrude from the side of Stony mountain to the south and  there are beautiful white birch trees along the steep ravine to the north.Stoney Mountain (14 of 50)

I remember one sub zero day in  January when I was in college when I spent the entire day hiking out here and exploring these rocks with some friends. It was a good day.Stoney Mountain (46 of 50)

Finally  my hike ended where the black road began, for us Green Ridge folks in my day,  where it meets a gas line next to Interstate 81.  The old railroad right of way once ran along the route of the present day interstate  and made it’s way to the railroad tracks near my house.Stoney Mountain (45 of 50)

It was a long hike  , almost four miles, and so I turned around and took a slow hike back. There was little wildlife in the woods, a few crows and pheasants I kicked up. And plenty of coyote poop. The forest is  starting to take it’s long Winter nap. But there  were plenty of good memories  to keep me company on the long walk back. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Mountain (48 of 50)

“We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home, in towns and cities.”
–   G. W. Sears




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Bear Creek Preserve: Shades Creek Hike.

Since we still haven’t had any substantial rain, and it is very dry in the woods, I thought maybe walking along a creek may help me in my search for some edible mushrooms, especially the delicious hen of the woods or, as known around here, the ramshead mushroom. Bear Creek Preserve (3 of 39)

I decided to explore the Bear Creek preserve again, this time along the Shades Creek. I left the parking area and first headed up a slight grade under  new growth maple and oak trees. The path then went down toward the creek under older and larger oak, beech and maple trees Bear Creek Preserve (2 of 39)

I crossed the Shades Creek over a narrow bridge and found myself in a mixed oak/hemlock/ beech forest. The path proceeded under very large, old gnarled rhododendron. Bear Creek Preserve (8 of 39)

I was surprised to find quite a few species of mushrooms growing along the creek. I thought there may be a few growing due to the proximity of the creek but there were a lot more than I expected, including these pretty jack-o-lanterns. Bear Creek Preserve (15 of 39)

The path continued in the woods and i kicked up a few pheasants and chipmunks but that was about it for the wildlife, except for this young toad. I was happy to not see any mosquitoes, ticks or gnats. Bear Creek  toad  062 (1 of 1)

I knew there was a waterfall along the stream but I didn’t see it. The path moved away from the creek into deeper hemlock trees. I am sure some of these old timers were first growth trees and survived the ax of the lumbermen. They were probably saplings when only Native Americans walked these woods. Bear Creek Preserve (16 of 39)

The path did get rocky and steep in spots but it was still a well maintained and relatively easy trail to hike. I would have liked to make it ti Bear Creek but didn’t have the time today so headed back up the trail.  I didn’t find any edible mushrooms but still was a nice hike along the Shades Creek. I will be back for sure. Here is a link to some more photographs taken on my hike this morning.

Bear Creek Preserve (22 of 39)

“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”
Henry David Thoreau,


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Bear In The Backyard.

I came home from my morning walk on Monday morning and this  large male black bear sitting in my back yard eating the corn I out out for the deer and turkey.

It looked like the same bear who had been ripping my bird feeder down these past two summers and, who recently, broke into my tool shed and helped himself to a 50 pound bag of seed.  I have hung the feeders up out of his reach and now have to fill them with a ladder. I also took the seed from the shed and put it in my garage. bear (5 of 17)

I was surprised to see him licking the left over kernels of corn off of the ground, having never seen this bear eat corn before. i had tried scaring him away last time he was here by clapping my hands and yelling loudly.  This usually scares them away but he was not one bit afraid and sat and ate the seed. I guessed that this bear was fed by humans and had grown accustomed to them. This is not good for the bear or for humans.

It could only lead to an encounter with a human causing him harm or, having the bear, not fearing humans, become an easy target during hunting season.  I am afraid it may be to late to teach this bear to fear humans now.Bear 017 (1 of 1)

I am fortunate to have almost one hundred acres of land behind my house and I don’t allow hunting. i am hoping to encourage him to stay on my land where he may be safe. We have seen a lot of bears and other animals in our area due to large areas of residential and industrial development of the woodlands that used to be their homes.  I watched this fellow until he finished all of the corn and got a video of him eating. This is a link to my YouTube video of him eating.  005 (1 of 1)

It is a shame such a magnificent creature such as this may have to die because we took away his natural environment. We need to set aside the areas of our wilderness that is left so that future generations can have the chance to observe these and the other beautiful animals that lived in these forests long before we did.  This is a link to some more photographs of the bear in my blog album page. 

Bear 31 (1 of 1)

“The best way of being kind to bears is not to be very close to them.”
Margaret Atwood

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Picking Mushrooms Is No Picnic, But We Love It Here In Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Searching for and picking edible mushrooms has long been a tradition here in the “coal regions” of Northeastern Pennsylvania.  Each ethnic groups had it’s own traditions and picked different species of the many edible mushrooms that grow in our woodlands and countrysides.

Today I decided to look for the hen of the woods (known around here as a ranshead or sheepshead) mushroom and chicken mushroom.    That is a chicken mushroom pictured above. These species of mushrooms grow mainly on oak trees in these parts and looking for and finding them can be quite an ordeal. 

Since mushrooms usual grow in the same area year after year we mushroom pickers are very secretive about where we find them so there will be no photographs of where I hiked today but just some of the mushrooms and things i found on the way, such as this older milky cap or milker  mushroom.  They also grow in oak woods but they are just about out of season now.  mushroom hike  (18 of 31)

I always check trees where I found mushrooms before and some of them are  growing on old oaks or oak stumps in thick woods. Today I had to crawl through a lot of brush and thorns  on my search. and have plenty of cuts and scratches to prove it. mushroom hike  (17 of 31)

Another obstacle  is the numerous spider webs that hand in the underbrush. A spider web to the face is not a pleasant experience, especially if the spider is on is very hard to get the sticky threads of the web off your skin. mushroom hike  (7 of 31)

Mosquitoes, wasps, bees, gnats and ticks are also an annoyance that I  have just gotten used too.  It has been dry here so there were not as many mosquitoes as earlier in the Summer and I was lucky to not have to pull any ticks off today. The bees and wasps usually leave me alone, unless I accidentally step on a nest which hasn’t happened for a while now. The biggest annoyance today were the swarms of gnats that flew into my eyes, ears and nose. mushroom hike  (1 of 31)

It got warmer today so i was pretty hot but, despite all of these annoyance I still love to be in the woods. So peaceful and you never know what you may find. Last week I encountered a bear in a tree but today all I saw where a lot of frogs jumping into the ponds, a few chipmunks and a lot of birds. They are starting to migrate now and I saw a lot of robins gathering together to prepare to head south. I only had my macro lens with me so no photographs but did find this feather. mushroom hike  (21 of 31)

I walked out about three miles and didn’t find any chicken or ramshead mushrooms but did find a few species growing despite the dry conditions in the woods.mushroom hike  (6 of 31)

I was lucky to find the mall, but fresh, chicken mushroom, pictured above,  growing on an oak stump. They get woody and tough very quickly but this one was perfect. I headed back with my treasure still  checking any oak tree i came across. No mushrooms but plenty of signs Summer is ending, including an abundant crop of acorns on the oak trees. mushroom hike  (20 of 31)

On the way back I walked the much easier path and enjoyed walking in the woods. I noticed a few leaves already changing colors . mushroom hike  (8 of 31)

It was a long and tiring walk but I  love the woods and i will have a nice meal of fresh chicken mushroom tonight.  I can’t wait to get back out there tomorrow. Here is a link to some more photographs I took on my hike today.



“what it is…is a place where I can return to myself. It’s enough of a scramble to get to…that the energy expended is significant, and it translates into a change in my body chemistry and my psychological chemistry and my heart chemistry…”
Jay Salter



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Time Waits For No One, A Lesson Learned From A Two Week Vacation And A Walk In The Woods.

I returned from a fabulous two week vacation in Scandinavia which seemed to go by in the wink of an eye. All of the wonderful sights kept me so busy it seemed like I was gone for a day. Well a few hikes in the woods today showed me that the passage of time in the natural world didn’t stop while I was gone.

In those short two weeks I missed the bloom of the delicate white fringed orchid that grows in a bg near my home. I found only a few faded flowers .photo

And it seemed the milkweed was just in flower but now they are laden with thickening pods. and the elderberries are ripe and being eaten by the birds. photo (1)

I headed to the PPL Riverlands later in the morning and again realized how quickly the Summer passes. Many of the plants now have fruits and berries. The wild grapes are beginning to ripen and flowers and grasses are setting seeds. Summer is well past it’s peak now. It’s sad how quickly it passes and being away for just these two weeks made me realize this. PPL Riverlands  (2 of 13)

And I also realized then amazing amount of things there are to see  just about everywhere you look. I spent just about an hour walking in the Riverlands and I saw this tiny fawn.PPL Riverlands fawn 29 (1 of 1)

I encountered a groundhog who seemed to be just as interested in watching me as i was in watching him. PPL Riverlands groundhog  (2 of 3)


A heard the shrill cry of a red tailed hawk and found one siting in a tree.PPL Riverlands hawk 26 (1 of 1)


I changed lens and explored the area with my macro lens and again found a large variety of insects, moths and bees.PPL Riverlands wasp 48 (1 of 1)

I realized today just how quickly time passes in the Summer and I just don’t want to miss any of it. i don’t think I will travel again during the Summer months. it is short enough in these parts and I want to enjoy every minute of it. This is a link to some more photographs from my hikes this morning. Riverlands  (2 of 4)


Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. ~Carl Sandburg

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Weissport Canal A Walk Along The Lehigh River

Last Sunday I hiked the Weissport Canal and haven’t had a chance to upload the photographs.  It was a perfect June morning with clear blue skies and bright sunshine. Weissport (8 of 57)

The trail starts in the historic town of Weissport. This town was the site of Fort Allen, built by Benjamin Franklin, yep, the  kite flying Benjamin Franklin after the Gnadenhutten Massacre in 1756. I’ll leave the history of this town for another post.

Last Sunday I hike north and west along the old Lehigh canal, built in the early 1800’s. There are still the ruins of many of the locks visible along the trail. In Weissport (1 of 57)town the waters of the abandoned canal are homes to many ducks and geese.

The trail is lined with many old trees along the Lehigh River and smaller trees and shrubs along the canal.

I walked past a few fisherman, trying to catch one of the many fish I saw in the water.Weissport fish 209 (1 of 1)

There was also an abundance of dragonflies, butterflies and other insects, including mosquitoes darting and buzzing along the path. Weissport dragonfly 233 (1 of 1)

The path becomes more wooded as it weaves it’s way through the gorge made by the Lehigh River. The beautiful scenery was enjoyed by many walkers, runners and bikers I encountered on the trail. Weissport (21 of 57)

I hiked out to the bend in the river where the old and active railroad tracks crossed a bridge over the Lehigh River. The trail ends at the bridge but there are plans to extend it to Jim Thorpe. Weissport (44 of 57)

I walked back and encountered a snake that just had a meal. It was right in front of me but got into the brush before I could get some good photographs. Also encountered quite a few song birds but wasn’t able to get many photographs. Still it was a great hike on a beautiful day in Northeast Pa.snake (1 of 1)

Here is a link to more photographs from my hike.


A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. ~Paul Weissport kingbird (1 of 1)Dudley White

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Upper Lehigh, The Nescopeck Branch Of The L & S Division Of The Central Railroad Of New Jersey.

The Summer solstice occurs tomorrow at 12:38 p.m, my favorite day of the year,  and in Northeastern Pennsylvania it means the beginning of huckleberry season. These  low bush blueberries usually begin to ripen around the solstice. Upper lehigh  (20 of 47)

I headed out to the old mining village of Upper Lehigh, where the berries are plentiful,   to see if they  were ripe  but found the road to the area I have picked them in the past blocked off because of some new coal mining activity.

Since I was in the area I decided to walk out the abandoned right of way of the very old Nescopeck Branch Of The L & S Division Of The Central Railroad Of New Jersey. This railroad, long abandoned, entered the then thriving village of Upper Lehigh from the east. It was built in 1867, mainly to get the coal mined there to market, but also  brought many vacationers to hotels in  this  town, situated atop a mountain, to enjoy the fresh cool air in the Summer. Upper lehigh  (23 of 47)

I have hiked this old railroad right of way quite a few times and always a pleasant walk under the towering oaks, maple, and yellow birch. The area was recently selectively logged but many old trees still remain. I did not see a lot of critters on my hike but did encounter a few toads, frogs, chipmunks, song birds and swarms of mosquitos, who sure enjoyed a free meal at my expense. I was Upper lehigh flycatcher- (1 of 1)able to photograph a catbird and this bird which I have not been able to  identify. 

The old railroad tracks and rails are mostly long gone but the old stone markers that were placed in the right of way still remain. Someone had painted some of them orange to allow the folks who ride  ATV and trail bikes on the trail avoid them. It is amazing that this stones, probably set in the ground when the railroad was built almost 150 years ago. Upper lehigh  (14 of 47)

The path travels along the southern border of a large tract of State Game lands. It proceeds into an area that had be burned by a large forest fire about five years ago.Upper lehigh  (19 of 47)

I have been hiking out here since the fire and have watched the re-growth of the forest. As is usually the case the ground is covered in new fern growth, blackberries and blueberries. Upper lehigh  (21 of 47)

I then walked down into the abandoned coal strip mining areas to the south of the right away. On my way, I passed an old structure that I think had something to do with provided water for the steam engines that would use the railroad tracks but I am not quite sure. Please feel free to comment if you know what this structure is. Upper lehigh  (24 of 47)

I did find some wild mushrooms growing along the way although, I thought, because of all the rain we have been getting, that there would be a lot more. Upper lehigh  (33 of 47)

I headed back up to the railroad right of way and headed into an area of older and larger trees, many oak. It is beautiful in this area but the oaks are being devastated by an infestation of gypsy moths. It is a shame that we may lose some of these ancient oaks to this pest. Upper lehigh  (41 of 47)

I headed back, attacked by swarms of mosquitos, It was a nice hike and hard to believe the path was created almost 150 years ago,.

Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike on this old and beautiful railroad right of way. lehigh swallowtail butterfly 156 (1 of 1)

If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk. ~Raymond Inmon

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