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Archive for the ‘Hikes’ Category

Wolf Rocks

I began this trek to the Laurel Highlands in the dark hours of the morning. I wanted to on the trail I selected early not long into sunrise. The temperature was in the thirty degree range as I began to walk to an area known as Wolf Rocks. I was at the Laurel Summit State Park for this particular hike.

Overlooking Linn Run

The traveling wasn’t easy due to many rocks on the trail, however, the walk was mostly level. I discovered why this area is known as Laurel Summit. Often times the areas to my right and to my left were covered with dense Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel.  Intermingled with these evergreen plants could be found our native green briar. I wasn’t very interested in trying to go through this mess, so I didn’t!

Rocky trail

I was surprised at the woodland silence this morning. Not one gobble was to be heard. I heard one raven. Very few other birds were heard. I saw some deer and heard and spotted an eagle flying over.

I moved a mile down the road to walk another trail. This trail is called Beam Rock Trail. I was impressed with these rocks once I arrived to them. Rock climbing is allowed on site and I hare to admit I did do some limited rock climbing.  The years kept telling me to not push this adventure. Body parts might break easier now! I could see snow and ice among some of these huge boulders.

Around noon I went down slope and hiked along Grove Run in the Linn Run area. Here I first saw green spring life. I found hepatica, Spring Beauty, Trout Lily and some young emergences of a few other species. I did not find any Morels. I left Linn Run around three o’clock. I hoped to have time in Ligonier to see the f Fort Ligonier Museum.

 

 

 

 

Beam Rock view

 

 

 

Snow between rocks

 

Mountain laurel blossom remnant from last year.

Flowers from the lowland hike:

Round-lobed Hepatica

 

Trout Lily

 

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State Game Lands 304

I am guessing the last time I hiked on Pennsylvania Game Commission State Game Lands 304 was twelve to fifteen years ago. The timing of this venture was in late August or September. The Deer Tick explosion in my area of Pennsylvania was in full force. I parked along a township road and headed up and over a hill in that year. Memory and time cheats me of specifics, but I either called and had turkeys answer me or I simply hear turkeys and set up to call them in.

Skunk Cabbage

I set up armed with a camera and began turkey talk. Their interest was apparent as I waited to see the birds sneaking into camera zones.

Buffalo Creek

For whatever reason I looked down only to see many ticks crawling upon my camo pants and shirt. I began removing and killing before getting up and leaving. the turkeys would have to wait. I couldn’t stand all those ticks crawling on my clothes. I needed to act and remove and kill as needed!

Today, I revisited this particular game lands, but not at the exact place I had been those many years ago.

I walked down a slope and eventually walked alongside to Buffalo Creek. The creek was beautiful. As I walked along I went upslope before hearing the distinct sound of a hen turkey. She began yelping, cackling loudly followed by others. In short order a gobbler or two began gobbling. Fighting with loud purring was heard as well. The wings were beating  loudly as various birds pushed to maintain or gain positions in the pecking order. The birds were across the creek. I eased slowly in their direction and eventually could see turkey movement about a hundred yards away.

I soon saw a big strutting gobbler, his white “snowball” head could clearly be viewed as it appeared to glow. (Turkey hunters will know what that means.)  About a half-an-hour of this show ended abruptly with the turkeys starting to feed again. Sad to say I could not get any photos due to the thickness of limbs.

I heard and saw Wood Frogs. I, also, saw some Red-spotted Newts and a pair of Mallard Ducks.

 

 

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Yes, recently this week I ventured out in some cold weather with stiff breezes to hike around a game lands. I hunted bear at this site last fall and wanted to explore some areas I hadn’t ventured into as of date. Immediately upon leaving a gas well road to move upslope the signs of deer beds were prevalent.  This area was shielded from the wind gusts and I suspect the deer made use of that fact. Numerous tracks were present as I hiked this adventure. I would see three deer later during the hike.

I circled around the hill’s side and old long-abandoned highwalls to fight Multiflora Rose and autumn Olive. I still have several thorns embedded into my hands as I type.

Once I moved up onto the top flats of this hill the winds became more brisk. They felt, almost, as a personal attack on me. However, I was prepared for the cold.

Turkey scratchings

I spotted some exposed leaves among some downed trees and discovered turkeys had been scratching the day before. Several hundred yards away I

Deer bed

came across fresh tracks. the tracks soon led to six to eight turkeys. I managed a few quick photos. I actually broke the flock up. If the cold was so demanding and may have set up to call some back, but I elected to continue moving to keep the old blood moving.

I walked a quarter of a mile and heard something moving in the brush only to see an adult gobbler. The brush did not allow any photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cone of a Tamarack. (Larch)

 

Note the swollen left side of this deer’s head. 

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Fresh Morning Snow

Before dawn I was busy cleaning the driveway from the several inches of fresh snow. The tractor’s battery had died and I decided to manually clean the drive instead of taking time to put the charger on the battery,

White-throated Sparrow

Interestingly, I soon began to hear the mating sounds from various birds. the Cardinal and Tufted Titmouse’s chirps were distinctive.  Soon I heard Canada geese and a pair flew over me honking away. nature’s mating season is in full force.

Later this day I would need to be ready to play at two nearby rest homes, but I managed to get several hours of hiking.

Deer tracks were numerous as I moved along. Fortunately, I spotted a deer bedded down among the fallen trees. I quickly located three more. I clicked some phots and moved on without spooking any of the three deer.

Birdlife was plentiful this morning. Cardinals, Juncos, White-throated Sparrows were common. I succeeded with getting some decent pics.

 

 

Cardinal in flight

 

 

Peek-a-boo

 

 

 

 

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Woodland’s Time

My friend, Frank “Muskie” Maus did out annual mid-winter hike time today. Frank wanted to explore some new woodland areas bordering a Pennsylvania Game Lands. He has a nephew who purchased some acreage with a home so the potential of hunting the area needed some exploration.  I have been on these particular game lands, at least, three or four times, but not on the acreage mentioned above.

 

Hill Country!

The area is typical with some old, long-abandoned, highwall mining sites, Autumn Olive and multiflora thickets.  While traveling through these wooded areas we saw plenty of deer tracks.

We circled the hill’s edge and returned to the road before traveling to another site familiar to Frankie as a hunter. AT this site we traveled along some high and steep river hills. We could see the mighty Allegheny River at times.

We didn’t make to this slope!

During this venture we saw around 10-12 Wild Turkeys. I arrived home after 1:00 so our time afield covered over four hours. Snow was still present in most of the areas we hiked. We, both, enjoy having some snow to help us see and observe tracks. Talks of another venture  were made and we discussed future fishing adventures.

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Climax Tunnel Area

New Climax Tunnel repairs

 

This stone is behind the new addition.

 

Always go towards the light…

Last weekend was a cold and breezy day. However, Laurie and I walked some along the Redbank Valley trail bordering Redbank Creek. I wanted to check on a Bald Eagle nest, as well.

We crossed out of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania at the small community of Climax. The one lane bridge over the creek is a rather new bridge. I remember some time back when this bridge was a metal bridge. Once we crossed the bridge to park for a trail hike we were in Clarion County.

Beaver cuttings

The Climax Tunnel, or the original name of Anthony Loup Tunnel,  goes through a rocky hillside. the tunnel was an old railroad passage many years ago.  The

Mergansers

Anthony Loup on Redbank is an amazing waterways for the waters goes way out, maybe a mile or so before turning back sharply making for an area possibly separated with only a couple of hundred yards of land mass at one point.

The tunnel has recently been renovated and improved by the Redbank  Valley Trails organization. Water leaking through the stones along with freeze/thaw cycles had an effect on the ceiling areas. the tunnel had been closed for quite some time for hikers for fear of injury. the tunnel is 520 feet in length. The tunnel was built between 1878 and 1877.

The eagle nest didn’t appear to be complete. High winds over the last few months must have blown much of the bulk down. However, after going through the tunnel and looking high in a White Pine I could see a huge nest. This nest was across Redbank Creek and about halfway up the slope. Could this be the new nest of the Bald eagles?

We walked along the trail for a time seeing five Mergansers on the creek.

 

 

Light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Probable Bald Eagle Nest

 

Redbank Creek

 

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This day turned out much better than a recent Saturday morning hike.  That hike was one where I was walking about an hour. I could hear either the rustling of leaves due to an oncoming breeze or the approaching onslaught of rain. The second option was the result and I knew it.

 

Black-Throated Blue Warbler

I closed in tight under some hemlock trees. Fifteen minutes later the rain was soaking me. I leaned tight against an oak and did not improve the   drenching. I made an executive decision and pranced off towards the jeep. I was drenched by the time I gained entrance into the jeep. I turned the heater on with the fan on full. Needless to say the flintlock shooting plans with my step-father, Bob were to be cancelled.

This week we planned the shoot again. The plans were similar for I was going to hike early and meet at the Cherry Run Gun, Rod and Reel Club to shoot some. Originally I wasn’t going to shoot for an ongoing eye issue I have been having. However, I gathered my flinter named, Old Jacob and decided I was shoot a few rounds.

Those of you who have been following my posts may remember of serious focusing issues while hunting deer last year. This past summer I talked with specialists concerning Lasik surgery. I was disappointed to learn I was not a candidate for the operation. I recently visited my eye doctor and have new glasses to be arriving this week…at least I am hoping. I am getting a special anti-reflective lens this time to help, hopefully, with my low-light seeing.

I enjoyed the morning time to reflect on my life and remember about my Uncle Carl Smail. I usually think about him as the hunting season comes along. He died in 1976 at 48 years of age while hunting waterfowl at Keystone Dam in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. I arrived at the dam to see the fireman bringing him out of the woods. A very bad time for me!

 

Bob with his Thompson-Center Flintlock

I was blessed to see several deer and about six turkeys on this jaunt.

I arrived to see Bob waiting. The shooting began. I need to say my shots would have all been fatal on a deer, but each shot took twenty to thirty

Cherry Run

seconds of careful sighting. The front sight and the rear sight are blurry and seeing the front sights position in regard to the rear sight is very difficult. A friend had me almost convinced to place peep sights on my flintlocks, but I have yet to make such a move. My flintlocks are custom-made firearms and are historically accurate. I can’t bear putting the sight on…yet!

 

 

 

Huge Sycamore

 

Skunk cabbage for next spring

 

 

Muskrat droppings

 

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