Archive for the ‘Hikes’ Category

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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Land stage of the Red-Spotted Newt.

We sure had a lot of rain stemming from the movements of Tropical Storm Gordon. I can’t say exactly how many inches of water fell, but a local paper had over five inches of moisture on Armstrong County. The creek below the house rose over its banks  and as write this entry the yard is very soggy. THERE WILL BE NO MOWING THIS WEEK! On Monday I saw a gobbler behind the house and a ‘possum at night. I haven’t seen my rabbits since the rain began to fall. Did they float downstream?


Foggy river hillside

This morning was in the fifties, but the humidity must have been up for my time afield was damp. I was exploring additional lands within a local state game lands.

Monarch Caterpillar

I arrived fairly early once I saw the weather forecast. No rain they said. Well, I felt something wet falling several different times throughout the morning. The wetness must have been my imagination, I guess! Thick fog moved about during the morning whenever weather conditions were just right.



Old rusty gas shanty

The exploratory mission had me seeing some areas I had never been before. High hills, steep hills bordering the Allegheny River and some deep valleys. I saw lots of Autumn Olive  trees loaded with berries. Those berries will be relished by everything from small birds to bear in short order.



One interesting discovery were five different Red-Spotted Newts along the rim of the steep hill. The newts are the land stage  and they will become aquatic later. I saw six or so deer throughout my morning jaunt. I only saw one squirrel. A Cooper’s Hawk fluttered from a high tree. At one site I saw vultures flying around, but five were settled in an old snag trying to keep dry enough for future flights.

Field of Goldenrods.

I saw a few Monarch Caterpillars on Milkweed stalks. I guess they survived the deluge well.


Fog over the Allegheny River


White Snakeroot


On a sad note, we must remember the terrible disaster that occurred this day seventeen years ago. The Twin Towers were struck by terrorists. The Pentagon was struck by terrorists and the saving of some planned attack by the terrorists due to the actions of very brave AMERICANS on Flight 93.  WE must never forget!!!!

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Out And About


I haven’t added much in regards to entries here as of late.  Either the organization through who I use in my blogging efforts changed the formatting or something occurred with a new computer.

DSC_0003 This past week I concluded two hiking adventures. the weather had changed some and a cooler temperature thrilled my needs to walk. For instance last Friday I went on an approximate eight mile hike with a starting temperature of forty-eight degrees.  Awww…comfortable walking conditions and less insect life to pester me.

DSC_0024  I began the morning jaunt as the fog was still heavy. I was fortunate enough to witness   DSC_0011the very early morning sun rising above the hilltops through the trees producing some orangish hues..  This made for some interesting photo opportunities.

DSC_0017_01  The state game lands I was walking this morning was not unknown to me, but I simply had never been on this section, so this was an exploratory venture. I had other reasons to really need to hike this morning. I had been going through some issues emotionally as of late. I have some friends with some health issues and I simply hate to have feelings of hopelessness especially with health issues I can’t fix on others. Also, with a doctor appointment coming up I was wondering what issues he might discover with me as I age. I was    DSC_0023troubled over such thoughts. The walk would do me much good.

DSC_0018_01    I walked a game land cut area while the heavy dew leeched into a small cut on one boot. I traveled across a large area until I came upon a township road splitting the game lands. I found some bear sign in the form of droppings. I was hoping to see such sign. Later I came upon some tracks of young bear of this year…a cub. Cubs mean bigger bears must be in the area, as well. Another sign I would find before exiting the woods was bear claw marks on utility posts and bear hair. Apparently, the bear had been using this pole to scratch its back on. the hairs were close to four feet high on the pole.







I saw several deer and squirrels while walking. I found a few turkey feathers, too.   DSC_0026

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Another cool morning and a hike was to be happening. I entered the wood prior to the sun rising and began walking about to see what sites would be in the offering this fine day.

The old road I began walking on was covered with high grass. My feet while hid in my boots remained dry, but I was soaked to the groin as the time went on. Every time I would come onto a muddy or sandy area I would search for tracks. I saw lots of deer tracks and coyote tracks. I notice d several piles of fecal matter made by bear judging by the size of the pile.

Approximately eight thirty I rounded a bend and saw black!  The black was a Black Bear!  The animal was coming my way so I armed myself with the camera and began taking some shots. The bear stopped at around thirty-five yards and I could tell the critter was getting an occasional whiff of something that stinks. THAT STENCH WAS ME! The bear stopped and moved left and then right and suddenly the whiff must have been strong enough to move on the bear’s instincts for the black disappeared immediately in the dense brush.

  I saw several deer this morning and two hen turkeys. I looked for poults that they must have been well hid if any

Hard to stop the action on a flying turkey.

poults were present.

Later I found a Killdeer nest.







Killdeer eggs


Coyote track





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The view overlooking Paige Run and Red Run

After a rather rough night for sleep I had the tent packed and was on the road prior to sunrise. The eastern sky was illuminated and a nice day was to be reality.

Red Run

I stopped along the Quehanna Highway and walked back through the woods to, hopefully, hear some gobbling. I didn’t hear any turkey talk at all. I didn’t allow a lot of time to listen, for a had an agenda to follow. I wanted to be overlooking some deep hollows early to take advantage of the morning sun casting deep shadows. This should give up a few nice photo opportunities.

One of many deer sightings.

I walked along a trail to a huge rock where I could see a great distances. The sun was doing what I had hoped and I took a number of photos.

I followed this trail down over a steep and rocky hill until I could see, and hear, Paige Run. (Paige Run meets up with Red Run.) What a beautiful stream with fast waters cascading over many rocks. Rhododendrons added a much needed color contrast with the deep and lush greens. I climbed the hollow and eventually crossed the stream to head up the other side. I reached the top and noticed the sounds of the fast water were almost absent. Suddenly I heard it…a gobble way off! I listened until I knew the direction and you guessed it… the bird was across the big hollow I had just come out of. Off I went in reverse to see if I could locate this turkey.

 I heard the turkey once more as I entered the ridgeline from where the gobbling had occurred. I listened for a time and decided I should get to fishing. The first morning of trout season was already well on the way. I was to fish Red Run for native Brook Trout. There was one catch. (No pun intended.) I would not be fishing if the stream was crowded. I pulled over along the road to NO VEHICLES.  I was elated. The time was 9:30 in the morning.


Native Brook Trout

Action was fast. I began catching, and loosing, and missing Brook Trout immediately. I spent over two and a half  hours along the waters. I released all the trout. Native Brook trout never achieve and size in such streams, but that was fine with me for I was alone. Only two vehicles traveled the road during that time.

Wykoff Run

I was going to fish Jack Dent Run as I headed towards home only to find a lot of pressure on that stream. Apparently, the Pennsylvania Fish Commission had stocked these waters. I decided to travel slow on state forest roads to see what I could see and move on into Parker Dam to fish.

I arrived at Parker Dam and continued on. The people were everywhere fishing. I did some sketching for the upcoming painting before moving on towards home earlier than previously planned.







Reasons why my legs hurt!

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Last Snow?



Saturday, April 7, yielded a two inch blanket of fresh snow. I desired to get out early and take photos for the snow


wasn’t expected to be on the Pennsylvania landscape much into the day.

The wilds were beautiful as snow was covering everything. The scenes were likened unto a winter wonderland although officially we are a couple of weeks into the spring season.

The first tracks I saw were from the White-footed Mouse. A set of Weasel tracks were in that area, too. I wonder if the Weasel had a meal. Other tracks I had seen this morning were Deer; Coyote; Robins and Squirrels. I would only see three deer this day. Later I watched a turkey feeding in an open area where the snow had already melted.




Burdock seed pods

A lot of birdlife was viewed. Besides Robins many Juncos and Song Sparrows were out and about. I saw a pair of Mallard Ducks on a pond and a Great-Blue Heron. A Red-tailed Hawk finished the view. A number of crows, apparently, had an owl secured in a pine. The raucous they created would have waken up the dead, so to speak.

Red-tailed Hawk


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Woodland Adventures







Skunk Cabbage in ice

This past week we had a snowfall of around six to eight inches. The trees were loaded down with their white snow-laden limbs. It was beautiful to behold. I really wanted and needed to get out into that element, but commitments thwarted my efforts. Wednesday, I spent all morning and into the early afternoon with my family at the hospital. My  mother was going through tests to determine possible reasons for acid-reflux and hoarseness. Thursday I had a Bible study class I have been doing for a number of years and in the morning the family had breakfast together. In between these agendas Laurie and I cleaned up the church in preparation for Sunday. Friday was to be the time afield and it was!

I was in the woods just prior to sunrise on the cold morning. I was hoping to hear a gobbler or two gobbling their heads off from the roost. My efforts failed. I did see some old tracks from the day before as they walked along side of a hill. The snow was very granulated on any areas that had received warming sun from the day before. The snow was melting and with the cold temperatures of night had become frozen again. this caused for some loud walking.

Various open areas were on the eastern slopes. One such open area yielded a pair of Woodcocks. Another larger area had six deer bedded down. I kep moving while avoiding eye contact. They remained at rest.                                                      

Deer were everywhere this day. I saw them in their beds and kicked up some. Later towards noon the deer were up and about feeding . I was seeing deer while traveling back roads back towards home. I know I saw, at least, sixty-five deer. That count could easily be higher.

  I left one area and drove south a couple of miles and walked along the Baker Trail. I, also, walked along Cherry Run looking for photo opportunities. I realized this could be our last snow of the season and wanted to take some shots. Four fresh sets of turkey tracks were visible on this walk. I only saw one squirrel today. They must have slept in.





Sunrise glow

Water over the rock

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