Archive for the ‘Sinnemahoning’ Category

Mountains and Elk

Bennett’s Branch of the Sinnemahoning

I was enroute to paint the mural mentioned in last entry. My usual way to travel to this area is to cut across very rural roads through the Quehanna Wild Area. This early morning was to not be any different.

The roads do not have any winter maintenance, but that didn’t deter the jeep. We began the travel! Most of the roads were passable with fresh snow over existing ice, but the snow gave traction. However, there were a few areas where I hoped to not meet anybody else doing the same as me.

I entered the Caledonia Pike where a little maintenance had occurred. I would see one vehicle on the short section I traveled, and it was an eighteen-wheeler. What the heck! I exited and would drive along the Medix Run. No problems.

Upon reaching my destination at Driftwood, Pennsylvania, I smiled for the entire back of the jeep was white with snow.

While staying in Driftwood and the traveling about later I would see two flocks of turkeys, two deer, squirrels, a groundhog walking on frozen snow and about thirty elk. The first day at the Driftwood Senior Center I would watch seven elk feeding and bedding for over two hours. the second evening I watched three elk wandering around eventually crossing the railroad track.

The time arrived to leave the center for the mural was complete, so I travel around looking for photo opportunities. I would park wherever I could and walk around to take photos of the mountains and creek…beautiful country.

Interesting ice formation

Dent’s Run

I traveled up and along Dent’s Run until the road was nothing but ice. I elected to turn around rather than hance a mishap.

Elk track

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Laurie and I, upon leaving the Austin Dam remains headed south on Route 872. We had a goal to spend some time at the Sinnemahoning State Park including the George Stevenson Dam area. I, also, was going to do a little fishing for native Brook Trout and whatever I can catch on the Sinnemahoning.

Laurie loves to read so any fishing I was to do would find her happy with a book. The first visit was at Brooks Run to fish for the beautiful native Brook Tout.

Native Brook Trout

Brooks Run

Those who know me understand how I am in awe in the Sinnemahoning Area of Pennsylvania. I never tire of viewing the high and steep mountains and those deep and shadowed hollows. I am always amazed as to how those men in the nineteenth century were able to denude all those mountains of virgin trees. Today, the beauty is back in force.

After the Brooks Run fishing we went to the Stevenson Dam area to fish a little more. I caught many Yellow Perch as Laurie sat on a bench along the shore to read. I walked upstream to explore. Personally, I enjoy the exploration as much as fishing. There were many Canada Geese and Common Mergansers using the water.

Laurie and I saw two mature Bald Eagles along the Sinnemahoning. One beautiful bird allowed my approach as I clicked away. I just have to include some of those pics here.

After the fishing and exploration halted the hiking began. But first we stopped of the famous “Arch Tree” farther upstream. Laurie had not ever seen it. This image appears on many sites. People seem to find a lot of enjoyment posing with the tree. Unfortunately, I see some decay on the tree. One can only guess how long the tree will survive. It could be many years.

Arch Tree

As what always happens the time to head back to the lodge comes much too quickly. I am including a few more photos below of the Sinnemahoning area.

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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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Laurie and I had planned some time away and we scheduled four days at the Bull Elk Lodge near Driftwood, Pennsylvania. The lodge’s website is: http://www.bullelklodge,wixsite.com .

We left early to travel to the lodge and as I generally do, we moved across back country roads of the Quehanna Wild Area. We stopped at the Shagger’s Inn Shallow Water Impoundment to see how the Ospreys were doing this. At this site I didn’t know what to expect for I had heard the Osprey nesting platform had collapsed. However, two nesting platforms were added farther down from the water. Two Ospreys were using the one platform. I moved across a wetland to close the gap for photos. I stopped once the water began to become worrisome for getting wet. We saw Canada geese, mallards, Wood Ducks and Common Mergansers at the water.

Osprey at nesting platform

As we drove the back roads we saw a Beaver dam and lodge. Of course, I have to get out and take some photos. WE continued on and visited the Beaver Run Shallow Water Impoundment where we saw another Osprey on a nesting platform. The last time I was here the water had been drained. We saw 15-22 elk while we traveled.

Beaver Lodge

Upon arrival we met with the owner of the above-mentioned lodge. Marcy has become a friend to us. She is a delightful person and Laurie and I have been honored with her friendship. We were the first to spend time at Bull Elk Lodge last year when she first opened it up for stay. We met her latest addition too. The German Shepherd pup named Cheech was full of energy upon greeting them all. Max, the little dog, was just as eager to say hello to us.

After we had settled in I went for a walk along the Bennett’s Branch of the Sinnemahoning anxious to see anything of interest. I immediately spotted some Common Mergansers on the water. As I explored around I saw, what appeared, to be deer hair along the shore. I assumed a deer may have been hit on the road and headed to the water and died. As I approached the hair became white feathers. I expected a male Common Merganser may have become a meal for a bald Eagle. I was wrong! The dinner had been a Red-Tailed Hawk. I am still assuming a Bald eagle killed the hawk.

Red-tailed Hawk feathers and parts.

I walked east along the branch along a remnant of an ancient logging road. I could see where workers had placed rocks many years ago over a ditch to make the road more level. To my right a 90 degree vertical, rocky cliff was present entirely. I could not even think of climbing this area. This road remnant, apparently, is used much by the local Elk population for droppings and antler rubs are everywhere. Across the creek I saw two deer. They were enjoying the greener, bottomland grass.

Rocks laid to make old road.

Elk droppings

As I continued along I saw a Porcupine about twelve feet in a small tree. I shook the trr some, but the mammal didn’t care a bit. I could have shaken him out of the tree if I had wanted.


I came upon a log diagonally across this old road. I noticed the leaves on the one side, but I didn’t realize the leaves had blown in against the log and filled in a depression in the ground. I stopped onto the log and stepped into the leaves falling head-first. The depression was two feet deep and filled with leaves. I gathered my senses and brushed myself off and moved about thirty yards farther and began to checking for things. I realized my one camera lens was not in my shoulder bag. I returned and frantically began to search eventually crawling into the depression. I found my lens. Relief!

I removed a few ticks from my clothes disposing of them all….But one! Later in the evening after I showered I found one of those despicable critters in my neck. That totals three embedded ticks in seven days for me.

Juneberry or Serviceberry

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Bottle Gentian

Those three days in the north country went fast. The weather was great, but we needed to begin or thoughts towards returning home this day.

  Early in the morning while Laurie was preparing herself for the day, I ventured downslope to the Bennett’s Branch of the Sinnemahoning Creek. Most areas of areas I walked showed the distress from the lack of rain.  the water was very low, and as the First Fork one could walk across the creek using exposed rocks. A few photos are included here.

Later, in the morning our departure led us through Medix Run. This creek was lower than I had even seen it. I hope holdover trout can survive.  We  stopped at the Shagger’s water Impoundment hoping to see some Ospreys and bald eagles, but the site was barren of the birds this day.   

Our trip towards home continued with time at Parker Dam State Park. Here we were prepared to do some hiking. Laurie became tired and elected to set on a park swing and read a book while I spent more time hiking. The trail I chose to explore had wetlands created by past Beaver activities. I saw some Brook trout.

I noticed a vivid blue partially hidden among the various wetland grasses. The blue was from a native wildflower known as the Bottle Gentian. (See photo above.)

The three days went fats and I was saddened to head towards home. Wildlife was abundantly viewed during these days. We saw plenty of Elk, Deer and three flocks of turkeys. We saw squirrels including Black squirrels. We saw two Ruffed Grouse, a rarity in these days. We saw a beautiful Bald eagle, Mergansers and Cormorants. I believe I had a glimpse of a Black Bear in the vegetation for I saw black for a moment.



Parker Dam forest


Shagger’s Impoundment








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The area of the Sinnemahoning has always held a powerful and special feeling with me since I first saw the beauty in my younger days. Since those days of many years ago I have been enthralled by the majesty of the beautiful mountains and deep hollows. My recent time in the area still provoked those same feelings of grandeur.

Technically the area is the watershed of the First Fork of the Sinnemahoning. The name Sinnemahoning came from the Indian word, “Achsinnimahoni.”  The word in their language meant “stony lick.”  

  Tremendous labor occurred on these steep and high mountains during the 188 era. I mentioned to Laurie, as we hiked. in wonderment as to how those men of that time managed to remove huge, virgin timber using non-powered saws and axes. Afterwards, those humongous logs had to be removed! the unfortunate side of those years resulted in mud slides, erosion, and wildfires from the denuding of the timber on the steep slopes.

In 1955, the George Stevenson Dam was constructed to control flooding along the west branch of the Susquehanna River farther down stream. This  dam has created a small back-up of water used by boats and fishermen and women, today.                                                                                     

I have fished various native trout stream tributaries and hunted for bear and small game over the years. A couple of years ago, I slept in a tent in November. The park office people couldn’t believe I was going to be in a tent in very cold weather.  There was not any other people in the area at all.

We were blessed to see a Bald eagle just over our heads. The white of he bird glowed in the un as it flew over. I wasn’t prepared with my camera. WE, also, saw a flock of turkeys of about fifteen, or so, birds. Other wildlife included Cormorants and Mergansers.

  I walked along the creek for a time amazed at the lack of water flow. I had never seen the Sinnemahoning this low. Many placed offered enough exposed rocks to walk across.








Roseate Skimmer




Long Dash Skipper




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