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Archive for the ‘Hikes’ Category

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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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

 

Cocklebur

 

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Buttermilk Falls

Buttermilk Falls at low tide

Laurie and I went hiking along a Rails-to-Trails ending at a locally well-know area called Buttermilk Falls. Seems many falls are named Buttermilk falls. Pennsylvania has been hit with little rain in recent times and the flowers and creeks are showing that fact.  Normally, in the above photo, water is coming over those rocks on the right, too.

We enjoyed our time together, but we were disgusted at the amount of garbage all over. ATV trails are abundant since these vehicles are not permitted on the trails and gates have been erected, they simply travel all over causing much erosion. Also, they are carrying bags of trash with them and other garbage and dumping it along the trail.  One pile of trash was across the creek along a trail and placed as such to be removed when the stream gets a normal flow.

Red-spotted Newt in the land stage.

 

 

 

 

 

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Locally we have had some very hot days over the past weeks.  Hot, humid weather isn’t my favorite weather by any account. However, I do venture out for some two or three hour hikes early in the mornings at times. Recently I hiked in State Game Lands 105 in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania hoping to see a bear of two.

The morning atmosphere was humid as easily viewed across the deep watershed that maintains the Allegheny River. I took some photos of distance hills with the humidity visible.

I didn’t find any bear sign this day, but I did see two young gobblers and a couple of Red-tailed Hawks.

I saw some Monarch Butterflies, too.

 

 

 

Red Admiral Butterfly

 

Monarch caterpillar

 

 

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Twenty-Five Years

Laurie among Trilliums

Twenty-five years ago on April 22, 1995, a milestone occurred. Lauranne (Laurie) and myself were married. This wedding happened in my back-yard gazebo. It is difficult to believe that many years have drifted along.

Last summer I began planning to go on a cruise for this silver anniversary. Laurie enjoys cruises and I thought doing such an event would be a great way to celebrate our twenty-five years.

Blue Phlox

Unfortunately, things happened in our lives . My step-father developed cancer which he is still struggling with. My mother turned ninety last December and recently suffered a mini-stroke. My sister went through difficult times leading to a divorce. Doctor appointments became quite prevalent over these months.

Laurie and I discussed the cruise plans and we decided to not plan for such a trip not knowing how Bob would be in the coming months. The trip was scheduled in mid-March. What, also, happened around this time? A virus began disrupting just about everything. We would have been on that trip when all this “hell” broke out to disrupt our lives. So, I guess our decision was a god one considering all that has happened.

Wednesday was the anniversary and no special plans occurred between us. No flowers, no jewelry, no trip, no fancy restaurant. However, we made other plans

Huge rock

that were satisfactory  for both of us. We decided to go on a hike and Laurie wanted to make a meal and dessert. We hiked the Rock Furnace Trail in southern Armstrong County and, later went for a drive over back roads to see whatever we could see.

The trail moves along Roaring Run. We enjoyed our time together. Trilliums were in bloom everywhere. The stream is beauty to behold.

 

On the way home we stopped to view an ancestor’s gravesite. His name was henry Blystone. He was my great-grandfather’s brother and fought under General Sherman during the Civil War.

 

 

 

Roaring Run

 

Trying to figure out her phone.

 

White Trillium

 

 

 

 

 

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Beautiful Pennsylvania

Saturday, April15th, I found myself walking some familiar landscape on State game Lands 105. My hopes were to find some morels…maybe hear some gobbling and see a bear. I failed on all three hopes this morning, but the hiking time was enjoyable. However, I did walk upon a gobbler with his two hens. the only photo I managed to get was a turkey’s back dropping over a slight drop in the terrain. Wildlife seemed scare this morning and that happens. The only mammal I saw was a rabbit.

I didn’t look extremely well for Morels only looking whenever I came upon a place that looked, “mushroomie.”  I found several other species. One, I   believe, is called Red Elf Cap or something similaer. Two others I am not sure enough to type in.

Later, I discovered a Beaver dam. I love exploring such dams. those mammals intrigue me with their instinctive building skills.

 

Beaver Dam

 

 

Juneberry or Serviceberry blossoms

Bloodroot

 

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Porcupine

 

Recently I returned to a large track of land to further explore and learn about the diversity. I love checking out new areas, however, finding such spots has become increasingly difficult over the times

I arrived about 7;30 to begin walking a trail. I almost immediately saw a deer up ahead. That would be the last deer sighting of the day. The flats featured some nice timber prior to the descension to the creeks on both sides of the point. I could hear the fats water from my high vantage point. At various places I observed “statues of rocks” someone had created in their jaunts. My early

Golden-crowned Kinglet

thoughts reminded me of ancient times and the worship of Baal by pagan Gentiles. However, I truly doubt and human sacrificing occurred on these altars.

I was slightly disappointed upon reaching a road and coming onto different property with many posted signs on the trees. Oh well, that is the norm in our current society. I returned to the parking place while walking along Bear Creek before going up and over the steep hill.

I entered another area of this property and enjoyed a nice trip through secluded woodlands. I am not sure how the dumping occurred for the area was polluted with hundreds and hundreds of tires and other debris from past travels along this, now-gated, trail.

While traveling this area I managed to get some photos of a Golden-crowned Kinglet and that isn’t an easy task. Those birds set long enough to get a focus and then dart to another limb searching for food. Out of a half a dozen shots I only got one decent photo.

Wood Turtle

I walked along a creek bottom and noticed just how high the creek had become after last week’s torrential rain. At one point I noticed a Wood Turtle along the bank. I couldn’t help wondering if that turtle rode out the recent high water. Maybe the critter had washed down stream for half a mile. Regardless, the turtle wasn’t overly frightened with my presence allowing for many photos.

The Coltsfoot flowers were blooming profusely. Yes, spring is here. The flowers are, often, called dandelions by many, but they are a separate specie.

I found some Round-lobed hepatica flowers almost ready to burst open . Golden Ragwort flowers have buds, but they will soon see a quick spirt in growth offering yellow flowers at around 15-18 inches high.

I was fortunate to see a Great-Horned Owl flying from a tree. No photos of that beauty. Other sightings included Turkey vultures, Canada Geese and Wood Ducks.

I saw an animal in a tree. At first I wasn’t sure if I was seeing a Porcupine or a Raccoon. Eventually, as I closed in, the Porky became obvious.

Coltsfoot Blossom

 

 

Stacked Rocks

 

Bear Creek

 

Round-lobed Hepatica

 

Wood Ducks

 

The morning sun

 

Some fast water

 

Robin

 

Close-up of Wood Turtle

 

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Black Bear (Notice the right eye.)

 

For over thirty years I wanted to explore some wooded land approximately thirty miles away from my home. Every time I ventured through the area I would remind myself of the need to explore and learn about these lands. Today, was the initial beginning of checking out the terrain and forest diversity.

Yesterday, March 26, Laurie and I walked a local game lands for exercise and to enjoy the warm, spring-like weather.  We saw five deer. This morning I was on my own. I knew I would be gone for, at least, half a day if not more. I was anxious to see what interest would befall my jaunt as I began to walk through the woodlands.

  The woodlands began as rather open country, but as I moved down the hill’s side I found some clear-cut areas. Soon I would be walking along a

Old Beaver sign

creek and noticing the remnants of a past Beaver dam. The waterway area was covered with downed grasses from last year. Also, many dead trees were visible wherever the water level from the dam submerged their roots. Downed trees were present and numerous old, weathered cuttings from a Beaver’s history could be readily viewed.

I stopped briefly to have a nature call when I saw the obvious head of a Black Bear. the bruin was about forty to forty-five yards from me. The nature call was aborted immediately!

I quickly realized two observations. One was that the bear was bedded and secondly, he was a huge bear. he turned his head, both left and right at times. Eventually, his gaze was in my direction. The big bear had something wrong with his right eye. (Look closely at the photos included here.) Obviously, I began taking photos whenever I could see the head well enough without limb interference. The head was big and the bear was obviously a huge male bear.

I stood on site for somewhere between five and eight minutes, before the bear stood up. Once I saw the body the size of head fell into place. The bear appeared to relieve himself. Once completed the bear turned towards the left and meandered upslope between an opening on the hill behind.

  I moved upstream to find a place easily forded. I moved through a wetlands before going up and over a slight rise in the terrain. My hope was to circle around for better photos. The bear was never viewed again although I moved up a hollow and up over a hill. I was tickled at seeing this great beast.

I walked along for approximately five hours this day seeing  a flock of turkeys and seven deer. At one point, I noticed something white at about thirty-five yards. A gobbler’s head with his body hidden by terrain. As soon as our eyes met the bird was gone.

A lot of BlueJay feathers told the story of a hawk’s meal.

I actually became bewildered for a time in this big area, but as you can see I found my direction.

Other sightings included a Red-tailed Hawk, Canada Geese, Wood Ducks, Mallards and Vultures. I was home around two and somewhat tired, but I sure was thrilled with this day’s events.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last year’s Squawroot.

 

 

Canada Goose

 

Frog eggs

 

Wood Ducks

 

 

 

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I have been on this Pennsylvania Game Commission property several times over the years, but this particular area I had not been on for a long time. The last, and only, time I hiked this section was at the time the Deer Tick explosion was in full swing.  I was calling turkeys in September and the birds were very vocal. I had my camera ready as I crouched between some limbs from a downfall. For whatever reason I glanced down to my pants and ticks were everywhere. I killed a few and decided to get the heck out of Dodge.  Ticks can ruin an otherwise enjoyable hike. In fact, I removed and destroyed about ten this morning, too. I hadn’t seen many at all over the hunting season last year.

I lucked out with watching a longboard gobbler with his harem of about eight hens. He wasn’t too concerned over my presence with so many admirers all around him.  They carefully went up the hill away from me and within moments they were all out-of-site.  I saw several deer, too.

Owl pellet

I kept my eyes towards the trees, as I walked, searching for a Great-Horned Owl’s nest. I found  one of his pellets. Hair and bones within the pellet told the story of some poor

Multiflora Rose

mammal being utilized as food. I did not see any nests. (Owl pellets consist of any hair, feathers and bone regurgitated by the owl. These are not digestible and discarded from the internal stomach of the owl. I have found complete mouse skulls on occasions.)

Much of the area had fairly open timber with visibility of over a hundred yards, however, once I got into an area with Multiflora Rose I began noticing ticks. Those pesky critters like to crawl out the stems and attach themselves to anything that brushes against the rose stalks. Theses plants are around the first to leaf out each spring.

There were some patches of another painful plant scattered throughout the walk.The Green Briar is a native plant to Pennsylvania. Those thorns can add much pain to a human calf or arm.

I circled around this property and eventually began a descent back towards my jeep. The walk was enjoyable and I was plea

 

Green Briar

 

Birch leaf illuminated by the early sun.

 

 

DSC_0160 (1)

hen

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Redbank Creek

Last week I was on the Redbank Valley Association’s trail to hike from the community of Climax, Pennsylvania to New Bethlehem. The day was to be sunny, but the temperature at dawn was below freezing for I could see ice build up on non-moving water.

Eagle nest

I was chilled initially for the sun had not risen over the tops of the hill hills to my right. However, it was bright enough to see. I kept a quickened pace to get the “blood flowing” as the old timers used to say. Laurie and I had walked a section of this area last spring, but this time I was determined to complete my goal.

Various birdlife was heard and viewed along the trail. Chickadees, Cardinals, Song Sparrows and Bluejays were common. Crows flew overhead at times as did a Red-Tailed hawk. I had hoped to see a Bald eagle foe a nest is visible to see to the observant. The big birds were not active this morning.

Old railroad ties

Canada geese were present at places with their honking “to scold me” racket. I did see a hand full of deer.

Beaver sign was spotted throughout the traveling. Some cuttings were old and some were fresh. Turkey, deer and coyote tracks were on the trail.

A lot of history remains can be seen along this trail,. Old coke ovens from the later twenty years or so of the eighteen hundreds are scattered around. they would refine the coal into a carbon for hotter burning. An old bridge over Long Run had some wash out issues and was roped off, but I crossed it anyway on the way back through. Old remnants of railroad ties could be seen here and there. They were in bad shape for the most part and covered with a thick carpet of moss. I walked through the old Climax Tunnel which recently had been repaired for public use again.

As I maneuvered along, especially on the return trip, the sun had come up and created some warmth. It was a beautiful morning to be out.

I haven’t been able to add photos the way I had traditional completed the task. I have discovered an different way so I am back in action again.

Bridge over Long Run just south of New Bethlehem.

 

 

Old coke ovens

 

Song Sparrow

 

Beaver cuttings

 

Climax Tunnel

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