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Archive for the ‘Hikes’ Category

The morning produced a deep fog, and I knew once the sun began to burn its way through the fog some great photo opportunities could occur. Off I went to walk along the Allegheny River.

The autumn tree colors are intensifying, and I wanted to be there. My walk would be approximately five miles.

Birch leaves with the river being obscured by fog, but it is there!

One historic finding was the remnants of the old Monticello Furnace. The furnace was built by Robert E. Brown in 1859 to extract local iron. The iron was burned in the furnace. the resulting pig iron was sent to Kittanning and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The furnace was closed in 1875.

All that is left of the Monticello Furnace.

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Covered bridge at McConnell’s Mill

October 10 was looking like a great day to get out and about. The leaves were turning into their autumn colors and the skies were blue and the temperatures perfect for hiking. Laurie and I asked her mother, Anne to go and she happily agreed for the day trip. Anne is eighty-four years old but does very well with hiking. The place to visit was, McConnell’s Mill State Park.

We stopped at Moraine Park for a brief time hoping to observe a Bald eagle or Osprey.

Looking from the old mill onto the falls of Slippery Rock

The McConnell’s Mill site was originally owned by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (1946) and handed over to the Commonwealth pf Pennsylvania in 1957. The lands are located in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania in the western part of the state. The park features the beautiful rock laden Slippery Rock Creek. Steep slopes are visible on both sides of the gorge. Huge rocks are viewed all about the parks land.

A couple of man-made features are located along and over the creek. The actual mill was built in 1852 and after being destroyed by fire was rebuilt in 1868. The mill was closed in 1928.

One additional feature is the one lane covered bridge. Few of these structures exist and this one is a beauty. The bright red colors contrast nicely among the foliage or snow in winter.

We visited another area of the park for I knew the trail would not be very difficult and that was the Hell’s Hollow site A watercourse flows down the hollow. It is called Hell Run. A couple of features of this trail are the Hell’s Run Falls and an old remnant of a limekiln. The kiln is barricaded off so one cannot get into the center anymore.

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I believe this may be a species known as the Grasshopper Sparrow.

It doesn’t take long to see the natural world moving quickly towards the autumn season. As a wildflower enthusiast I have learned to tell seasons by the blooms of various species of wildflowers. The end of the season will be upon us before one knows it. Currently the Ironweed with the brilliant purples is in bloom as the Goldenrods are presently emerging into their bright yellow hues. The various Asters will be blooming soon.

Ironeed

Bull Thistle

I was about three feet before possibly stepping too close to this Bald-faced Hornet nest. It, probably, would not have gone well for me!

Not one hundred percent sure of this specie of Dragonfly, but it is a beaut!

I noticed this Black Snake emerging from my landscaping this afternoon. I ran for the camera. In the couple of minutes, it took to retrieve the camera the snake had ventured out onto the yard. I fell to my belly to snap photos. Most were blurred too much for the snake was moving as I tried to keep up.

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Wild Bergamot

This past week held some adventures in hiking and fishing for me. One morning Laurie came with me. We would see nine deer including four bucks, two turkeys and a Bald Eagle. We entered a field’s edge and noticed two fawns bedded down.

One morning I fished the Allegheny River catching several Walleyes and several catfish. I saw an Osprey searching for fish to catch.

One of the walleye catches.

This catfish was close to twenty inches. Nice fight!

Another morning I walked alongside to the Allegheny River and a local rail to trails. I walked about five miles. I watched a Mink along a rocky edge. That is an uncommon sight to see in the wild. I, also, saw a Great Blue heron and a family of Common Mergansers.

Yellow Goat’s Beard in seed. Seed pod is approximately three inches across.

Thursday morning, I had time for a brief walk prior to stopping at my mother’s home. Very early I heard and later spooked a gobbler from a tree. On my way home I would see three longbeards.

With temperatures I the fifties I headed to a state game lands for a nice walk. I saw a number of deer. One doe offered some photos with the sun at a good angle. I would see other deer, as well. I saw several hen turkeys and a few poults. I walked upon a flock of gobblers. Although they were very close, I could not find an opening for a camera shot.

Indian Pipe

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Beautiful Fog

Very early in my hike the fog was obvious. The thickest fog was east of my position in the direction of the Allegheny River. I began this trek following an old gas well road within the confines of a state game lands. I did not travel very fall when the road was very obscure and covered with chest high grasses and timothy plants. I went about a hundred yards and decided to reverse course and hike another area. The heavy dew on this vegetation felt like a cold glass of water being thrown upon my legs with each step…uncomfortable feeling at best. I found some turkey feathers while walking out and wondered what may have occurred at the site.

Turkey feathers

The change in a more north-easterly direction eventually placed me along the ridgeline of a very steep “river hill”. The thick fog was being permeated with the morning sunlight. My positioning was perfect, so beautiful was this site, I sat down to enjoy the view. I took a number of photographs from this ridge. This was one of those, “I hope this never ends” moments.

The time in position allowed for a “spiritual session.” My emotions were that intense and I was sure thankful to be a witness. Ther are many times in today’s world when such feelings are needed.

However, the fog began to dissipate, and I, reluctantly, elected to move on. I hiked around the area until the heat began to be felt. Along with the heat the insect life increased.

Throughout the morning I would see around eight deer and many squirrels.

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Another Cool Morning

One fall-like morning was June 18, so I made the best of the situation. The area I went to walk around soon became discouraging due to the ATV and dirt bike damage. I continued walking seeing a couple of deer and a raccoon. I spotted the critter moving away from me as I made a semi-circle throughout the woodlands. Surprisingly, my unplanned movement allowed this ‘coon and myself to stop and eyeball each other for a second or two. managed one shot.

However, before the ‘coon encounter I spotted two Turkey Vultures atop of utility poles on a right-of-way. They were holding their wings out to allow any moisture or dew to dry before beginning a day in the wind drifts.

Turkey Vulture drying the wings.

I could see a red-orange color through the underbrush and new immediately I was seeing a deer in its summer coat. The stalk began. The deer, a small buck, was feeding. I managed several pics before the buck nerves changed his feelings about my presence.

Eventually I came upon a township road and moved towards the parked Jeep. I was going to go along Cowanshannock Creek to see what mischief I could find.

I was surprised to not see any cars parked being it was a Saturday. I walked mostly along this creek past the locally famous Buttermilk Falls and continued. I was frustrated to see the garbage and massive erosion issues from the same ATV and dirt bike users from up and over the hills. the trails are everywhere!

I saw and, later heard, a Great Blue Heron.

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Land Stage of the Red-Spotted Newt.

For a handful of days my allergy issues have greatly subsided. I am hopeful that this annual problem may be moving on allowing for some peace. We will see!

Of course, with that issue lessening I hit the early morning for a walk, you know in the cool of the morn. I like to get out early for sometimes some fog allows for dramatic phots, plus the annoying insect life may be decreased for a time.

The enjoyable walk gave me opportunities to see some wildlife, as well. I saw some deer, a hen turkey, and rabbits. I heard gobbling on the top of the ridge and worked my way up. Here I would watch four gobblers and a doe together. Unfortunately, the birds never offered a good photo due to terrain, but what the heck… I was seeing gobblers.

Of course, I enjoy looking at the various vegetation as well as wildlife. Also, I look for photo opportunities of interest.

I liked the contrast of these spruce cones against the deepened colors of the background.

Mountain Laurel…Pennsylvania’s state flower.
Squirrel of some kind.

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Cool, Foggy Walk

Scarlet Tanager

Why do I have to suffer with allergies every year? Maybe to appreciate the good times without symptoms. A few mornings ago, I was up and feeling fairly good. My eyes were tolerable, and the sneezing failed to occur. The outside morning temperatures were in the forty-degree range. I am going for a walk!

I started the walk feeling good. the cool morning air felt good with each breath.

I was interested in what wildlife I may see this fine day. I saw a couple of deer; one had a fawn with it nursing. I saw some spring-time birds seldom viewed. The Scarlet Tanager is a favorite for the color red is vivid contrasting the black wings and tail. I managed to get a few pics of this beauty.

Another bird seldom viewed close enough to identify is the Kentucky warbler. Warblers are difficult to photograph for they dart quickly from limb to limb.

I was lucky with a shot of a Turkey Vulture, too.

Kentucky Warbler

Good days for me seldom last long for as the day warmed up so did the symptoms. I was miserable by the time I returned home. Oh well it was good while it lasted.

Turkey Vulture

Dew on the Sensitive Fern.

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Laurie the tree hugger.

Laurie found out about this nature park and suggested we visit and hike the trails and explore. The park is called the Succop Nature Park and is located south of Butler, Pennsylvania.

We noticed a lot of children standing around in preparation for some guided tour. We had forgotten about this day being the annual Earth Day. We went in the opposite direction on a hike. We quickly learned of what lots of rain can do… create muddy areas. This fact would dampen the hiking for we continued but via different routes looking for dry trails.

The walking would bring us along two ponds. Here we would see bluegills, large koi fish, Wood Ducks and turtles. I saw some deer and squirrels, as well, but obviously not on the ponds…haha.

Lots of birch trees in the area.

The park, although small in acres, has a hundred-and seventy-year-old historic mansion on it. The site is used for events, such as weddings. The park is owned by the Audobon Society of Western Pennsylvania. Their web site is: http://www.aswp.org

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I have been out on hiking excursions as much as possible. I find with retirement I seem to have a lot going on. Here are some photos from these adventures.

Golden-crowned Kinglet.

These little birds can be difficult to catch in photos. they continually dart back and forth. Occasionally one gets the shot in the millisecond prior to the bird’s movement.

Turkey Vulture

Chestnut burr

Devil’s Walking Stick or Hercules Club

This tree has a covering of very sharp thorns covering the trunk thus the common names. If you ever reach for one without recognizing it be prepared for some intense pain. Birds love the purple autumn berries, as do the Black Bear.

Early spring greening!

This bottom photo requires some explanation. All the gray hues in the background is the water. This limb you are viewing is actually a refection on the water. The image is weird to observe until you know what had happened. The limb has broken off the main branch and is hanging over the water by a length of monofilament fishing line thus allowing for an eerie looking reflection.

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