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Monday, December 28, 2020

William's First Hike in Paradise Creek Preserve

[Ed.:  This blog entry was authored by William.  All photos selected by William.]

Hi, Blog!  

We were ready to go on a hike when Baxter said that he wanted to go too.  Too bad for Baxter, but he couldn't come, because he's a cat and cats won't walk according to plan.

Here we are at the trailhead.  We decided to go along the short route.

Here is William reading the signature rock.  It says that this piece of land belonged to the Kurmes family.

Here is William chopping up all the ice:

Here is William being fascinated by this small feeding stream:

Here is a sneaky photo taken by David, as William didn't know until we got home:

Here is William showing his discovery of Tank Creek:

This is some very delicate ice crystals that Kathy found:

William shows himself on the tip of a cliff:

Here is William puking into a rusted out metal can:

Here is William standing in the middle of the train tracks.  Don't worry.  No trains were coming.  (Dangerous)  (Ed. note:  It is a rarely used track with long sight lines, as can be seen in the next photo.  The hiking crew acted very prudently and safely in taking this photo.)

Here is NaiNai waving to us from the side of the tracks.  Me and David didn't notice and we crunched through the bushes to get up to the train tracks.

Here is a fun guy that is always needed in blogs:

Here is the nice good-for-ice-skating lake:

Soon we came to the parking lot and headed home.  We found out that William could run faster than 6.2 miles per hour.

We really liked this hike.  And Happy New Year! 


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Snowshoeing Paradise Creek Preserve

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Hi Blog!

It has been four days since our first snowshoe around Tobyhanna Lake. We've spent the time since slowly convincing our muscles that the next time we snowshoe, it won't be so arduous. The muscles agreed we could go out one more time before Christmas as long as it wasn't 5.5 miles. We compromised on a nice two mile trail in the Kurmes Paradise Creek Nature Preserve. We had hiked this trail on November 18th. If you are curious to see what it looks like without all the snow, check out last months blog.

As is our custom, we start every adventure with a trailhead selfie.

Four days has pasted since the epic 15 inch snow fall. From the looks of the trail, at least one cross-country skier came through. There were a number of bare boot prints. We were surprised that we didn't see any other snowshoe prints.

The well marked trail is easy to follow.

Temperatures were above 32 degrees, so the trail was a little slushy. We didn't need as many layers as we did last week.

The trail was awesome
Breathtaking on either side
Snow covered bushes as far as you could see
Glistening sprinkling of fairy dust
A most magical marvelous memory
When all was done and said
Nothing left but light fluffy snowflakes

From Snowshoe Adventure by Anthony Slausen

The trail provided us with at least one challenge.

Finding the boardwalk was easy; trying to cross it in snowshoes was a little more difficult.

Luckily, the trail crew added these large orange markers to show the way.

Tank Creek was resplendent in its ermine coat.

As we traveled next to the creek, it added its boisterous burbles to the quiet winter landscape.

We stopped to watch tiny icicles form as the creek splashed its way downhill.

Just think: this little creek joins Paradise Creek, which flows into the Delaware River, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean; you are looking at part of the future Atlantic Ocean.

Here fishy, fishy, fishy....

Winter Streams
Bliss Carman
Now the little rivers go
Muffled safely under snow,
And the winding meadow streams
Murmur in their wintry dreams,
While a tinkling music wells
Faintly from their icy bells,
Telling how their hearts are bold
Though the very sun be cold.
Ah, but wait until the rain
Comes a-sighing once again,
Sweeping softly from the Sound
Over ridge and meadow ground!
Then the little streams will hear
April calling far and near,—
Slip their snowy bands and run
Sparkling in the welcome sun.

There is a little red blazed elbow off the main trail that is fun to explore. The rhododendron try to hide the trail. But with a little perseverance, you can find your way.

As Christmas fast approaches, this may be our last blog for a week or so. We wish all our friends and family a Happy Hanukkah, Festive Festivus, Merry Christmas, Happy Boxing Day and an Amazing Kwanzaa!

Friday, December 18, 2020

Snowshoe Day! at Tobyhanna Lake

 Snowshoe Day!  The Snowmaggedon brought over 18 inches of snow to our area in the Pocono Mountains, and we were prepared.  We had the snowshoes out and fitted to our new winter snow boots.  We shoveled our driveway yesterday, and we were ready to hit the snow this morning:

The last time we snowshoed was about 18 months ago -- March 2019 when we snowshoed in to Lexington Arch in Great Basin National Park in Nevada.  If you're curious about that adventure, you can read about it here.

We weren't the first ones through the snow.  We could see evidence of one cross-country skier who had navigated the trail clockwise (opposite to our direction) -- probably yesterday when the snow was fresh -- and one hiker who barebooted it, taking care to use the skier's tracks to minimize postholing, as the wind off the lake created some drifts as deep as 30 inches.  We wore orange as a precaution against hunters, although deer season has ended.

Ruthie Puppy's bench is always a favorite stop when we hike around Tobyhanna Lake.  We like to compare views as the seasons progress.  Last time we hiked around the lake -- in the snow -- the surface of the lake was already frozen, except where springs fed up and revealed themselves through the ice; this time, the snow, ice and cold were too much, even for the springs, and everything was frozen -- although the springs still revealed themselves with thinner, dirty ice which contrasted with the snow-covered thicker ice that dominated on the lake:

The trees here are mainly bare -- having died and dried and fallen some weeks ago.  Still, some leaves hung on desperately to some smaller trees and bushes.  One leaf must even have given up its grip late in the snowfall.  It lay, expired under the slightest dusting of snow:

Another favorite place around the lake is the wetland formed by Tobyhanna Creek as it feeds into the lake.  We looked upstream, marvelling at the dirty ice marking the channel of the stream --

-- and awestruck by the melted channel formed by the current of the creek as it flowed past us and on into the lake:

Our total trek was 5.5 miles.  We decided to split our lunch into two shorter food stops, at the two- and four-mile marks, thinking that we would digest our meal better if it were in two smaller portions -- and thinking, too, that we could use a couple of longer stops.  We had hot Jasmine Green Tea (Kathy's with honey) to warm us at our meals.  We were ready for Lunch No. 1 when we reached the 2-mile mark:

The trail stretching behind us, where we lunched, was representative of what we saw through the entire hike:

Very subtle splashes of color appear in unlikely places, but they stand out against the India ink sketch that is the forest in snow:

Miles 3 and 4 were hard.  Lunch No. 2 came just about when we would have needed to stop anyway to give our backs, hips, feet and cold fingers and toes a break.  Kathy grinned with excitement as she contemplated putting toe warmers in her boots.

But we only had a mile left to hike, so our second meal energized us, and we hopped off down the trail, feeling a little more spring in our step.  It wasn't long before we arrived at the spillway, where, halfway through our last mile, we paused to hydrate (we had to hydrate every half mile because the snowshoeing was so aerobic and generated enormous heat and perspiration):

Our walk along the spillway dam gave us one final panorama of Tobyhanna Lake before we headed down the woodsy backstretch to the boat ramp parking lot where we had left the Jeep:

That last shot of peanut butter and tea perked up our senses, and David spotted another small detail to record for blogging posterity:

Reaching the boat ramp parking lot, we looked past the lonely, snow-laden rental boats toward the fishing dock where -- surprisingly -- we found no one fishing:

We would like to say that we paused to enjoy the lake one last minute or two before sadly turning to our Jeep to drive home.  But the truth is that we were exhausted and ready to sit down and couldn't wait to jump back in the car.  This was four hours of very intense exercise, and we were ready to embrace our recliners and spend the rest of the day deciding what to say about the hike as we wrote this blog.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Hiking the Lehigh Gorge Trail South from Rockport, PA

Friday, December 11, 2020 

Hi Blog!

After the snow storm on Wednesday, it took the better part of Thursday to get the roads cleared. With warmer temperatures on the way Friday, we decided to get out and explore part of the Lehigh Gorge State Park. This 6,107 acres park follows the Lehigh River from the Francis E. Walter Dam near White Haven in the north to Jim Thorpe in the south. The Lehigh Gorge Trail follows over 20 miles of abandoned railroad grade. We started our hike at the Rockport Access Area.

Rockport Road follows Indian Run down to the Lehigh River.

This is a very popular raft launch for the white water raft companies that ply the Lehigh River. The stairs make it easy for customers to walk down to the river's edge. It also makes it easy for the fisherman. We couldn't help but notice all the great fishing spots we hiked past.

Sections of the park and the adjacent State Game Lands are open to deer hunting. The hunters are allowed to drive this portion of the rail trail during hunting season. That said, we only saw two pickup trucks with hunters. There were three other cars, but they appeared to be tourists taking advantage of the open gates.

The rail bed was carved into the side of the Bald Mountain. The spring water that leaked from the rock layers made for amazing ice sculptures.

The recent snow melt has supercharged Luke's Falls.

The Lehigh Gorge Trail is managed by The Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor which aims to preserve and interpret the nationally significant history of the 165-mile transportation route between Wilkes-Barre and Bristol encompassing both the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers. The pretty trail markers made it easy to check our mileage.

This nameless waterfall started high on the hill and slowly stair-stepped down to the river.

We encountered only four bike riders all day. The icy road bed made peddling exciting.

After a little over three miles, we turned and headed back to the traihead. Picnic tables were scattered about a mile apart. We enjoyed our sandwiches while watching Drakes Creek work its way down to the river.

After lunch, we walked down to the river bank so we could get a better view of the railroad bridge over Drakes Creek.

The arrival of the Lehigh Valley Railroad in the 1850s prompted the formation of the company that eventually became the Bethlehem Steel. Remnants of the old rail line can still be see along the trail.

Large culverts with massive stone walls were constructed to funnel stream water under the rail bed.

While we hiked 6.5 miles, we only covered a little over three miles of the 20 mile trail. We have 17 more miles of adventure ahead of us.

We leave you with this video of the Lehigh River as it tumbles through the Gorge.