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Archive for the ‘Hikes’ Category

Painted Lady

Laurie, my mother-in-law, Anne and myself spent all afternoon at Crooked Creek Park near Ford City, Pennsylvania. October 22 was a  warm and sunny day. We, also, had a picnic.

We hiked several trails and visited the Environmental Leaning Center to see the last remnants of their herb and flower garden.

We walked below the outflow area of the Crooked Creek Dam. We saw a Great Blue Heron, Groundhog, Grey Squirrel and two deer. I was hoping to see a Bald Eagle to show the girls.

We stopped periodically to set and listen and watch.

 

Great Spangled Fritillary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crooked Creek

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Harrison Hills Park

 

Morning sun

This past week I tramped upon an old pine log only to feel my foot crush through the rotted log. Ouch!  I didn’t fall completed down, but I, apparent,

White Snakeroot seeds

tightened my leg muscles to thwart a fall to the face. Whatever, I immediately felt pain in my butt-cheek and thigh of my left leg. The sudden thrust aggravated a meniscus issue within my left knee, too. That sure dampened my flintlock hunts.

My step-father and I went out together to hunt deer on Saturday, the 21st of October, but nether of us connected. We completed the hunt at ten in the morning. I was hurting some and the temperatures were getting warm.

Freeport, PA along the Allegheny River

However, I had promised my wife, Laurie we would go down to Harrison Hills Park in Westmoreland County to walk a trail. She decided to travel on a five mile trail. I must say I felt discomfort with every step, but we made the trek.                                                                                      

The park has much diversity with habitat. A section of the trail we hiked edges a step river hill. One can see the Allegheny River while peering through the trees. We only saw one doe feeding on acorns. Squirrels and chipmunks were common.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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    I admit I didn’t make the hike as early as wanted. I had to “slap” on some paint on a new painting  just to get the direction in order. Also, I needed to  record a track on a CD I have been working on.

Water Snake

I was trying to make an important decision, as well. Should I go carp fishing along with a hike? Or should I just go on an “explorative” hike?  I decided to explore and take photos. After all North Korea just may blast a nuke into Pittsburgh and I should check out as many places as I can.

Cardinal FLower

 

 

Wood Turtle

I needed to drop off a Cd at a friend’s home so the decision to hike and explore Patterson Run was made since the drop off home would be in route to this

Damselfly

beautiful stream.

Patterson Run is an approved trout stream in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. I have hiked along some northern sections of the stream at various times, but I never explored the lower section. That would be my goal!

Bumblebee on Blue Vervain

I walked down over a hill to the stream and began to walk with the flow of water searching for photo opportunities and wildlife. And yes the stream is beautiful! I had on boots that went to mid-calf and much of the time I could find a route to avoid wet feet. Several times I needed to go over the embankment to circle deeper areas. I saw only one trout. The water was low for the most part and deeper holes were scarce.  The water was clear and only the deeper holes failed to see bottom, well.

I saw two deer on the walk. One fawn was bedded down in stream-side vegetation and erupted only when I was about twelve feet from the bed. A second deer was wading the creek, but tree limbs avoided any chance for a pic. I would see two hen turkeys with poults. Just how many poults is anybody’s guess since all I could see of them was moving vegetation.

I located two different Wood Turtles. One I removed from the creek bottom and waited for the inquisitive critter to emerge from the shell and head back to the creek. The second turtle was walking along the sandy ground. two handsome water Snakes were viewed on limbs prior to the falls into the water.

I saw a lot of Cardinal Flowers growing along the water course. This flower grows deep along creeks and rivers, but I didn’t see any more than ten feet from the water’s edge. That seems to be the norm from past encounters. I saw a lot of Damselflies fluttering along the vegetation. the actual name for this species is Ebony Jewelwing.

On another hike earlier this week I saw five deer, three of the deer were buck with nice racks!

Wood Turtle

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Bull Thistle

Tuesday, June 27, I spent some quality time fishing on the Allegheny River. I was limited with bait , but I had some great fishing experiences.    throughout the early morning on this cool and breezy day I hauled in three nice Smallmouth Bass; five Walleyes and a Rock bass. I missed several other hits. I watched a Great Blue heron fishing along the shore. The bird was very successful!

 

Bear Tracks

This morning I was off again to hike in the State Game Lands 137. My goals were to see bear if possible.

 

Native Rhododendron

 

Owl Feather

I began my trek prior to six in the morning enjoying the forty degree temperatures and the lack of pestering insects. I slowly    walked along looking for photo opportunities and wildlife.  I saw one doe, but she watched me intently. I imagine she had fawn)s) behind her, but she wasn’t taking any chances and she turned into the dense foliage.

Summer wildflowers were everywhere as I searched for critters. I saw some various warblers including the Hooded warbler.

Dew on grasses

Later as I walked a grassy area I bumped a hen from a tree only to walk upon another hen just ahead. I glanced around for poults, but failed to see any, but I feel confident some were nearby. I didn’t see any bear, but I found old tracks in the dried mud.

 

Butterfly Flower

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Black-eyed Susan

(Monday, June 26) How could I not hike on such a beautiful and cool morning? The morning was actually “fall-like” and I

Crane Fly

wanted to see what I could observe on such a fine day. I decided to travel over a few Cherry Run hills and hollows. Bear mating season is underway and I always search out opportunities to see those black beauties.                                                                   

I ascended a hill before leveling off across some woodland edges. I really enjoyed the coolness and peacefulness I was experiencing. Throughout the morning I would see twelve deer. Unfortunately, photo opportunities were few due to vegetation, distances and not seeing open views. Interestingly, I didn’t see any fawns this morning, but I am sure some were close by!

Daylily

 

Deptford Pink

I descended a slope onto an old timbering, but grass covered road. Suddenly, an explosion of fury erupted directly in front of me. A  hen turkey took to the air followed by miniatures. Yes, a number of turkey poults flew into the air in varying directions landing in trees. I estimated, due to their size, the poults to be about three weeks old. Wild turkey poults can fly short distances at around two weeks of age. I thought of setting down and calling them all back, but elected to continue on with the hike.

Milkweed Beetle

Moth Mullein

I circled the side of the hill unto a recently reclaimed strip job. I was struck in awe at the distances I could see. I sat down on some bare  ground to look about the distant hills. memories of my past could be viewed everywhere I looked. I started to visualize the turkeys and deer I had tagged as I looked those distances.  Lots of memories! I had bagged a gobbler on the one point just this past spring.              

I could see very far and I noticed a deer running across a field. I wondered what had made that deer run. Was the deer being attacked by horse flies?  IK could see a family of Canada Geese exiting a pond into the same field. Remember this distance is close to a half a mile! I didn’t want to leave, but I knew I was over a mile away from the jeep and time never stops for long.

Wildflowers, of course , are blooming everywhere. I took many a photo of them as I walked about the landscape. I am weird like that!

 

 

 

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  I need to ask how one can be so stupid! I filled up my hands and began walking down the slope to fish. I

Dutchman’s Breeches

stooped to pick up a worm that was on the dry trail and realized I had forgotten my fishing license. How stupid is that?

 

 

Immediately I turned to plan B. I was going to fish a few hours before hiking along with taking photos. I drove to the site I had planned to walk and it was still only about 6:30 A.M. The sun was up and the atmospheric conditions were perfect. My bad luck of forgetting my fishing license allowed  for

Spring Beauty

some great photos.

  The route I took to hike was covered with early spring wildflowers. Spring Beauties; Dutchman’s Breeches; Rue Anemones; Violets and others could be found in plentiful numbers. Trilliums were soon to bloom. The Skunk Cabbage was growing quickly.

Rue Anemone

I searched for morels at times, but failed to see any of those morsels.

  I saw some Gray Squirrels and one Fox squirrel. I saw Great Blue herons and Belted Kingfishers. I sat down on a log to enjoy the beauty when I noticed  movement in the air. A mature bald eagle landed about seventy-five yards from me and began to make shrill calls. I took a couple of photos even though I knew the photos wouldn’t be the best quality. I saw an immature eagle flying. I heard gobblers off in the distance occasionally.

Wild Leek

I saw some Canada Geese at times and some unidentifiable waterfowl, too.

The four hour hike ended as the sun was making much heat. I elected to stop and visit my friend J Kip Feroce at his camp. he was there and surprised to see me. We planned some spring gobbler hunts.

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  The day was shaping up into a nice typical spring day. I headed east to go for a hike, but while traveling through Whitesburg, Pennsylvania, I felt an urge to pull into the Whitesburg United Methodist Church. I checked the mirror and quickly turned right into their drive.

I began a slow walk with memorial tombstones on all sides. I picked up a deer antler and placed the “horn” on top of Bob Hudson’s stone. Bob was married to my sister and was killed in a work-related accident in 1987. He was only 31.  The memories started to flow!  The slow gait witnessed my great-grandparent homemade stone. I had never met them. My very own grandparents were here, too. Great uncles and great aunts, cousins and friends all have found their last resting place within these hallowed grounds. Aunts and uncles are resting here.

Finally I arrived at a special memorial stone. The Stars and Stripes hangs beside the stone telling all the person buried at this site was a veteran. The    man name is Allen K. Smail. He was my father passing away on father’s day 1999. I cleaned up around the marker removing many blown leaves that had rested there with him.  Silent words were spoken and some mist in the eyes formed during our talk.  I miss him!

Bloodroot

To my right a small stone is setting. This small stone is for  my sister, Glenna Mae Smail who passed away in infancy in 1962. Many thought bounced around my brain wondering the usual “what ifs.” Would I have had nieces and nephews if she would have survived into womanhood?  I like to think she would have grown into a beautiful woman living a life of joy. Of course, I’ll never know these answers.

I was sad! I continued to walk on familiar grounds to think. I would take a hike along hills and hollows near and around Cherry Run. This area is a place where memories abound for I played, hunted, fished and hiked everywhere.

The woodlands are yet to show much new and refreshed vegetation. I noticed Coltsfoot flowers all over. I had seen my first Coltsfoot of the season way back in February since we witnessed much warmth at the time. Other flowers present were the Spring Beauty and Bloodroot.  Skunk Cabbage is doing well despite recent cold weather.                                      

I saw one deer this day.

Wednesday morning I listened for gobblers at a different place very early and heard none. By 6:30 A.M. I dark cloud bank enveloped the entire area. This may have dampened turkey talk. However, while traveling home in mid-morning I would see a flock of about 15-18 in a field. The clouds had allowed the sun to filter through by mid-morning. I saw six deer.

 

Goldfinch

A Cooper’s Hawk was soaring low through the woods and came to about twelve feet before noticing me and abruptly changing the course of flight.I was blessed to hear and courtship ritual of a Woodcock during the moments at dawn.

I stopped and surprised my mother on the way home.

 

My mother, Ruth Smail Miller

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