Today was to be stormy, but as we ate breakfast, the forecast moderated and it seemed that our risk of foul weather had retreated to the afternoon -- so we decided to squeeze a 4 mile hike into our schedule of errands today.
We chose the Lakeside Trail at nearby Gifford Pinchot State Park. The park occupies 3.5 square miles in northern York County, Pennsylvania. It was named after Gifford Pinchot, who was born in 1865 and died in 1946, was an American forester and politician. He served as the first head of the United States Forest Service under President Theodore Roosevelt, and as the 28th Governor of Pennsylvania. The centerpiece of the park is Pinchot Lake, which is about 3 miles long and on average a quarter-mile wide, which is an important recreation site featuring prime bass fishing. Environmental education programs are provided at the park, as well as a day use area and a campground featuring a playground, a volleyball court, and horseshoe pits. The lake was created in 1959 by damming Beaver Creek. Its purpose was to provide a recreational lake for area residents to enjoy.
We wanted to check out the lake for possible kayak fishing or a trail bike ride. While the entire loop trail around the lake is over 9 miles, we selected a 2 mile segment near the boat launch for an out-and-back hike.
Spring is popping out in this area of south central Pennsylvania. Our first surprise was this small field of Virginia Bluebells --
-- that greeted us with their delicate powder-blue-and-lilac colors:
The trail is well maintained, with solid bridges over the regular watercourses:
There was a wider variety of wildflowers abloom that we are showing here, but we couldn't resist also including this portrait of a cute little specimen that was resting along the trail:
A geologic study of Pinchot Lake states that the dominant rocks in the area are igneous, which of course suggests that they originated in volcanism. But that doesn't explain this huge piece of geology we encountered as we reached about a mile out on our hike. We saw a number of large boulders that seemed, to us, to be erratics that might have been deposited in the area by advancing, then retreating, glaciers. However, scientific studies suggest that Laurentian glaciation did not reach this far south. So we're not sure how these large boulders arrived here. Perhaps they are left over from the erosion of hills or mountains in the area. The rock itself may be sandstone that was melted by intruding lava. Anyway, here is one big boy that we couldn't resist examining further:
The "boulder" looked round from the perspective of our first view of it, but as we circled it, we found that it is quite oblong. Obviously, other hikers have piled rocks and logs to help them climb it:
The lake is quite dramatic at this spot -- made even more dramatic by the approaching storm:
Standing on a huge slab of melted sandstone, Kathy seemed to be contemplating this unsettled intersection of sky, water and stone:
Much later in geologic history, people came along and built rock walls, to help clear their fields and separate their land from neighboring properties. We were surprised to see this relatively well-preserved rock wall in what otherwise appeared to be forested wilderness:
Local schools use Pinchot Lake for rowing practice and competition. There are numerous sheds and racks for racing shells:
The park -- at least historically -- has permitted mooring of boats in certain arms of the lake:
Before we reached the far point of our hike, Kathy drew up sharply and silently and raised her hand in our agreed signal of wildlife. There was a solitary deer, partly obscured in the undergrowth not far off our trail to the right, standing absolutely still, watching us. We, too, stood quietly, and so the quiet stalemate began. It gave David time to snap a photograph of our silent interlocutor:
The strange, metamorphic sandstone slab boulders show up all along the lakeshore. Here, we found a dramatic assemblage of them, exposed by a recent drawdown of the lake's water, referred to below:
The slabs of rock made for a dramatic panorama:
The entire shoreline of Pinchot Lake has expanses of exposed mud and boulders, because of a drawdown of the lake by 5 feet by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for the purpose of making repairs and improvements to some of the lake's facilities.
Pondering all these weighty geologic matters, we turned back toward our trailhead. Kathy found a section of the trail inundated by heavy stream flow and demonstrated the right way to skip across the water on boulder-tops:
David spent the entire hike searching for a good photo of the beautiful, blossoming plum trees, which grew everywhere along our path. Finally, Kathy took matters into her own hands, grabbed a low-hanging, flowering branch nearby, and brought it out for a portrait:
Our return hike was uneventful, but gave us a chance to think about why we hike, and why we engage in full-time RV'ing to hike. We thought about so many other hikes we have taken along lakes, how many in Newfoundland and Alaska in similar weather, and we decided that we're very happy we are back on the road and able to explore new pieces of glorious Nature.