Archive for September, 2020

Bottle Gentian

Those three days in the north country went fast. The weather was great, but we needed to begin or thoughts towards returning home this day.

  Early in the morning while Laurie was preparing herself for the day, I ventured downslope to the Bennett’s Branch of the Sinnemahoning Creek. Most areas of areas I walked showed the distress from the lack of rain.  the water was very low, and as the First Fork one could walk across the creek using exposed rocks. A few photos are included here.

Later, in the morning our departure led us through Medix Run. This creek was lower than I had even seen it. I hope holdover trout can survive.  We  stopped at the Shagger’s water Impoundment hoping to see some Ospreys and bald eagles, but the site was barren of the birds this day.   

Our trip towards home continued with time at Parker Dam State Park. Here we were prepared to do some hiking. Laurie became tired and elected to set on a park swing and read a book while I spent more time hiking. The trail I chose to explore had wetlands created by past Beaver activities. I saw some Brook trout.

I noticed a vivid blue partially hidden among the various wetland grasses. The blue was from a native wildflower known as the Bottle Gentian. (See photo above.)

The three days went fats and I was saddened to head towards home. Wildlife was abundantly viewed during these days. We saw plenty of Elk, Deer and three flocks of turkeys. We saw squirrels including Black squirrels. We saw two Ruffed Grouse, a rarity in these days. We saw a beautiful Bald eagle, Mergansers and Cormorants. I believe I had a glimpse of a Black Bear in the vegetation for I saw black for a moment.



Parker Dam forest


Shagger’s Impoundment








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The area of the Sinnemahoning has always held a powerful and special feeling with me since I first saw the beauty in my younger days. Since those days of many years ago I have been enthralled by the majesty of the beautiful mountains and deep hollows. My recent time in the area still provoked those same feelings of grandeur.

Technically the area is the watershed of the First Fork of the Sinnemahoning. The name Sinnemahoning came from the Indian word, “Achsinnimahoni.”  The word in their language meant “stony lick.”  

  Tremendous labor occurred on these steep and high mountains during the 188 era. I mentioned to Laurie, as we hiked. in wonderment as to how those men of that time managed to remove huge, virgin timber using non-powered saws and axes. Afterwards, those humongous logs had to be removed! the unfortunate side of those years resulted in mud slides, erosion, and wildfires from the denuding of the timber on the steep slopes.

In 1955, the George Stevenson Dam was constructed to control flooding along the west branch of the Susquehanna River farther down stream. This  dam has created a small back-up of water used by boats and fishermen and women, today.                                                                                     

I have fished various native trout stream tributaries and hunted for bear and small game over the years. A couple of years ago, I slept in a tent in November. The park office people couldn’t believe I was going to be in a tent in very cold weather.  There was not any other people in the area at all.

We were blessed to see a Bald eagle just over our heads. The white of he bird glowed in the un as it flew over. I wasn’t prepared with my camera. WE, also, saw a flock of turkeys of about fifteen, or so, birds. Other wildlife included Cormorants and Mergansers.

  I walked along the creek for a time amazed at the lack of water flow. I had never seen the Sinnemahoning this low. Many placed offered enough exposed rocks to walk across.








Roseate Skimmer




Long Dash Skipper




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The Fred Woods Trail

I have  hiked the Fred Woods Trail before seeing elk and other wildlife.  Since Laurie and I would be staying close to this site, I planned on spending some time hiking the trail and showing her the huge rocks father back across the mountain top. We arrived to hike in the afternoon.

We had walked approximately half a mile when we noticed two others coming towards us. I asked if they had seen anything of interest. The response was they had seen a rattlesnake stretched across the trail closer to the rock formations we were heading to.  The man, also, reported the snake wasn’t very ambitious. the cooling temperatures of fall had made it lethargic. From that point on Laurie and I didn’t hold hands. My job was to search out that snake for photos before it moved  away if possible.  I was now the official “point man.”

I watched the trail and, apparently, the rattlesnake had slithered off among the ricks and ferns. We continued our hiking looking ahead for those big rocks. At one point, I heard something over the edge of the trail and looked to see very dark or black among the leaves. was it a bear? The color indicated a strong possibility, but  I can’t say with certainty.

Once we arrived at the rock area I showed Laurie the interesting crevices and tunnel-like exposures among the rocks.  The breaks in the rocks are interesting making for narrow trails between rocks with high rocky sides.

The Fred Woods Trail circles around the mountains top for close to five miles in total length. The Camp Quehanna Young Adult Conservation established this trail in 1980.  The trail was named in memory of Frederick Woods who was killed  while working on state forest lands.  This site is located within the Elk State Forest between Benezette and Driftwood, Pennsylvania. After we returned to the jeep we drove a short distance to an area opened from forests to show the beauty of the distant Pennsylvania slopes and hollows. It is called the Top of the Mountain and it is worth seeing.







Eerie glow from the other end opening.



Top of the Mountain view.


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Pennsylvania’s Elk

The three day trip to northern Pennsylvania would not be complete without looking for Elk. I planned for several hours to search out and listen for these beautiful animals during our time near Benezette, Pennsylvania.  I had a lot of things I wanted to do so I needed cooperation with the elk as quick as possible.

  Laurie and I left our place of stay early and headed to the Winslow area where many elk may be spending their time. We drove to the bottom of a hill and walked upslope in heavy fog to listen for those bugling creatures. We weren’t disappointed. The big males were scattered around within a relative close proximity bugling and threatening each other. One bull had, at least, fifteen cows and calves in his harem. For a time the best we could see were an occasional darkened form.

In my allotted time trying to capture the Elk, I had to deal with dense fog and distances, so I failed to get the quality of photos I would have enjoyed. We saw many elk and a lot of deer, also.







Lifting fog












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Cross on the Hill

Sometime in July, I believe, a friend sent along a notice of her new endeavor. She was working on a lodge to rent to people. the name of the lodge was to be, BULL ELK LODGE.  Laurie and I decided a trip  north might be a great thing for us and now we had a place to potentially stay. I contacted Marcy Manning and planned a stay-over for the latter half of September. In fact, we were the first to use the lodge. at the beginning of the week of September 21st. See photos of the lodge below and the Bull Elk Lodge website.

We heard coyote yipping and howling two evenings while at the lodge. I heard a gobbler across the hollow on one morning and saw five deer within easy bow range just outside the door.

Freedom Bell at Mount Zion Historic Park

Ours three days to this country was quite enjoyable. I took Laurie to see some various sites of the area. We went to the Cross on the Hill site and visited the nearby Mount Zion Historic Park. The park recognizes local war veterans of the area. After we arrived at the lodge and prepared our “stuff” for our stay, we hiked on the Fred Woods Trail. We met a couple on their way out of the trail when they reported seeing a lethargic rattlesnake was back the trail towards the area of the huge rocks. From that point on Laurie and I didn’t hold hands as I was placed on point! Unfortunately we failed to fins the snake. I heard something over the hill’s rim and saw black moving amid the vegetation. I can’t say with one-hundred percent certainty, but I may had glimpsed a bear. A separate entry will be placed on the Fred Woods Trail.

Top of the Hill view.

Evening was coming rapidly as we went to the Top of the Mountain viewing area to see the view of the Pennsylvania mountains. What a beautiful site to behold.

If Interested with learning more on Bull Elk Lodge check out the link below. 


HOME | Bull Elk Lodge
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Bull Elk Lodge Interior Images.

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Golden Rod

Yes, the summer season for the year 2020 is heading down the road to the autumn season.  Recently, this past week, I went for a walk to a state game lands pond approximately a mile back in. I obtain the benefits of walking plus fishing during one excursion. I have placed posts from fishing this pond in the past. I enjoy catching Carp on light tackle or even a flyrod.

One observation being very prominent this past week were the end-of-season wildflowers. Yes, with the golden fields of the Goldenrods the frosts can’t be far away, in fact, as I type this on  September 18, frost watches and warnings are being forecasted for counties north of SR 422. This land area includes northern Armstrong County where I reside. Oh well it is the last half of September.

Turtlehead Wildflower











New York Aster


Spotted Jewelweed


Bullhead Catfish

Dew-laden Mullein leaves

This excursion yielded two flocks of turkeys, one deer, a flock of Canada Geese and a very brief glimpse of a Black Bear at about thirty yards. The fishing wasn’t too bad either for I landed some Bullhead Catfish. I lost a few Carp due to the four pond test line on my light tackle rod and reel.

Buffalo Creek



Yellow Jewelweed 






Monday of this past week found my walking shoes along Buffalo Creek looking for whatever I could find to observe. I found a Red-spotted Newt. (Removed a Box Turtle from the road, too.)






Red-spotted Newt




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The Wake!

My old friend from many years, Frank “Muskie” Maus and I were on the river early this morning. A heavy fog was  everywhere for some time. The air was calm, but the temperatures were to rise hot later.

We began the fishing excursion with surface lures anticipating a great day with hooked Muskies.  Sometime around 7:30- 8:00 A.M. I cast out far into the river. The retrieve began and a wake was directly behind that surface lure. A Muskellunge was in pursuit and immediately behind the lure. I continued the retrieve believing the big fish was about to take the lure and the fight would be on. I continued to turn the reel handle and soon I could see the fish. Within seconds I had the lure alongside the boat and the Muskie was immediately behind the lure. Would this fish take the lure?

 Within four or five feet from me I saw the mouth open wide. The white of the inner mouth was highly visible.  I thought to myself, get ready and hang on!

The Muskie, just as quick, closed his mouth and turned back and disappeared into the depths of the Allegheny River. I was not saddened by the failure of the fish to take the lure, but extremely thrilled to have witnessed this event. Would I have preferred to have the Muskie hit the lure? Of course I would, but I was excited and immediately called the fishing day a success.




Interesting enough, we fished into mid-afternoon and did not have any additional strikes. That , my friend, Is Muskie fishing in a nutshell.  One never know how a day will turn out. Frank has been very successful this year with the golden colored fish. Frank is a “Muskie Professional”, in my book.

Other species of wildlife viewed were mallard Ducks, Wood Ducks, Great-Blue Heron and Belted Kingfishers.





Wood Ducks


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