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Archive for the ‘Hikes’ Category

I arose early deciding to climb the mountain behind the lodge we were staying. I gawked across the Bennett’s Branch of the Sinnemahoning just in time to see an early rising bald Eagle fly high and above the waters. Actually, I was high enough to be looking down upon the bird. The mature eagle looked so elegant. Four, then six, deer walked alongside my position about the same time as the flying eagle. the deer continued along slowly assuming my presence to be peaceful. I glanced down slope and saw, at least, three more deer moving through some thicker pines. I would see additional deer as this time moved forward.

I went into the lodge to see Laurie was awake. I told her my plans and she said breakfast should be around eight o’clock. Off I went to begin the ascend.

The shadow on the distant mountain is from the mountain I am standing on.

I followed old logging trails at times. These trails often went diagonally upslope in a zig-zag method. Even so the mountain was steep! My hopes was to reach the top in a timely manner, also I wanted to capture photos of the rising sun against the mountain tops. The hollows in darkened shadows against an illuminating sunrise can make for great photos.

The summit was in sight when two large birds flew into a tree about a hundred and seventy-five yards from my approach. They were silhouetted against the brightening skyline. I believe they were eagles, but I never saw either bird well enough to identify.

I continued at that angle to come upon a very steep hollow. At this time I realized the timing would not allow additional climbing, although I believe fifteen minutes would have made the top possible. I would need to begin my descension.

Going uphill was bad for someone of my age, however, going downslope would be painful on the knees. The hillside was covered with rocks and very dry leaves in places. Either could cause me to head downhill faster than I would like. In fact, I did fall once.

Besides the Bald eagle, deer, possible eagles, I would see two pairs of Canada Geese.

I captured many photos of the sunrise and contrasted mountain tops. Some are included here in this entry.

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This morning we have rain and clouds. Yesterday, was a sunny and pleasant day. If I had to chose which day to hike the answer was obvious ,,,yesterday!

I had no destination in mind so I went to Lock #8 on the Allegheny River to walk up the tracks towards the old Reesedale Power Plant. This would allow to watch over the river for soaring Bald eagles since there is a nest near. I didn’t see any eagles this day, but a Turkey Vulture soared the skies.

I walked along keeping aware of my surroundings. I noticed the Coltsfoot flower blossoms present, but not open. Remember the temperatures this morning was around thirty degrees. Ice was hanging from exposed rocks and a sheen of ice was present on areas of standing water.

Coltsfoot blossoms

I saw some small birdlife here and there, but one thrill occurred when I heard something moving in the leaves. Three gobblers had been surprised by my approach. How they missed me would prove to be rare for turkeys tend to not miss much.

Canada Geese and Mallard Ducks were spotted here and there along the river. i saw another specie of waterfowl but couldn’t identify them. I found some tadpoles in the cold water. They didn’t seem to be concerned with the icy water at all.

This little tadpole would not quit watching me.

One bird that surprised me as I was returning was a male Ringneck Pheasant. I managed several photos of this beauty.

White-throated Sparrow

Ice balls

Dripping water

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I was traveling to southern Armstrong County to explore an area I had never been at before. I was moving towards the area on this mid-teen morning while seeing the eastern sky glow just prior to sunrise. This morning was to be chilly but sunny and I felt good taking the opportunity to move about.

I began walking on an establish gas line/ trail and moved downslope for a short distance when huge rocks were viewed. Here was the area where I would be moving along at first. A narrow trail followed the hill’s contour sometimes on ground and sometimes over and across rocky outcrops. The slope itself was rather steep on my right. Occasionally, I could see hints of the Kiskiminitas River.

Rearick’s Ford area of Crooked Creek

I was pleasantly happy to see these huge rocks and no graffiti. That is a rare site!

Eventually this narrow trail turned downhill and sharply to my right. I could hear high water way below. The stream I was hearing is called Flat Run. This watercourse featured some big rocks with water cascading through them.

Kiskiminitas River

After enjoying this fast-moving water I elected to move farther down over and walk on the trail towards Edmon, Pennsylvania, Interestingly, this part of the Roaring Run Trail was not on an original railway. This section had hills and hollows. I saw five deer, a Fox Squirrel and two Grey Squirrels. Once I was close to the river I would see Mallard Ducks and Mergansers. I noticed a shadow over the muddy water of the river and upon looking up saw a Bald eagle. Later I would see three more deer.

The western side of the hill. Notice the sun-lit hill in the background.

Beaver works

Before returning towards my home I stopped over at Crooked Creek Park. the dam was holding back lots of water, but the Bald eagles were truly enjoying there time. I am not sure, but I must have seen seven to eight eagles. They were flying, soaring chasing each other and landing on remnants of ice. Later, at the Allegheny River I would see Common and Hooded Mergansers and Ring-billed Gulls.I had an enjoyable day.

This tree was around fifteen inches in diameter.

Mature Bald eagles

Immature Bald eagles

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Beech grove

I enjoy snow-covered times to hike. I always attempt to head out in the evening to walk occasionally. Sometimes these evening walks catch me not arriving back until darkness has overtaken the woods. But that is great and yields a special feeling of nostalgia with me for I often did such travels even in my youth.

I had some memories of the site shown in these photos. This site was the very last time I had my Springer Spaniel for a winter walk some years ago. The dog was rapidly approaching blindness, but she still had the vigor to enjoy walking with the old man. However, she was running into tangled brush and trees so often that I realized this was getting dangerous for her. A sad time.

Beech leaves

The Beech trees shown in the photo carry last year’s leaves throughout winter until te time of new leaf growths begin. The orange leaves make for a nice contrast against the snow.

One photo shows Holly leaves. I only saw one such shrub and wondered just how this plant started.

Holly

I walked around as the darkness crept along arriving back to the jeep close to dark. A rain had begun to fall by this time. I would see a total of eight deer.

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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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