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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Stretching Our Legs on the Lakeside Trail at Gifford Pinchot State Park

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.

Eddie and George Come Out of Covid Hibernation at Cedar Lake

Friday, April 16, 2021

Back to the Gap Again

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Hi Blog!

Our time here in Tobyhanna is coming to an end. We move back into the RV next week and head down to Virginia to spend some time with our son and his family. Before we leave the area, we wanted to join some of our friends from the Appalachian Mountain Club for one last hike.

Prior to hitting the road on our full-time RV adventure in 2012, we had been very active in the AMC, taking classes, leading hikes, hosting weekend get-a-ways and creating a hiking guide for the Mohican Outdoor Center, which sits on the Appalachian Trail in the Delaware Water Gap in New Jersey. We had mapped over 23 different hikes in the Delaware Water Gap back in October 2009. When our friend Lennie suggested we do our last hike in the Gap, we were all-in.

We agreed to meet at the trailhead for the Mt. Tammany Red Dot Trail. Lennie suggested that Jim and Lynn (also friends from AMC) join us.  While not full-time RVers, they also travel and camp several months a year. We have been following their travels on Facebook, as they camped and paddled in Florida in many of the places we intend to visit this coming winter. We were also joined by Mark, who helps maintain the trails in Worthington State Forest, in this area. For Mark, this was a scouting and surveying expedition, but we were happy to come along for the ride.

Dave, Jim, Lynn, Mark, Kathy and Lennie

After months of our being flat-landers, it was interesting to actually have to hike uphill. All our hikes around Tobbyhanna Lake didn't prepare us for the steep steps needed to summit Mount Tammany. Kathy had to employ her "White Mountain grunt" on a few of those steps.

However, the views made it all worthwhile. That's the Delaware River behind us, making its way through the Delaware Water Gap.

We couldn't have asked for better weather! Just as we started the hike, the rain and clouds cleared out. The views were endless.

As we reached the summit, Kathy and Jim ventured out to the lookout.

Here, Mark pointed the the way as we reached the junction of the Pahaquarry and Blue Dot Trails. Mark and his crew will have their work cut out for them. There were several downed trees we had to clamber over. Mark noted each location. We actually help him push a fallen tree off the trail. We felt so virtuous!

We hiked part of the day along Dunnfield Creek. At one point, we had to cross the creek. Here is Kathy showing off. As luck would have it, she didn't fall in, but wouldn't that have been funny if she did!

One of the fun things about a hike along a creek, are all the waterfalls and the cascades just like this one.

While it had been years since we joined our AMC friends on a hike, we fell right back into the easy camraderie and shared enjoyment of the great outdoors.

Until our paths cross again, stay thirsty my friends.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Fishing Tobyhanna Creek

It's the fourth day of trout season in Pennsylvania, and we're getting out on Tobyhanna Creek!

This last weekend was Katie's birthday weekend -- and the trout streams would have been elbow-to-elbow, so we had no plans to get out on the first weekend of trout fishing.  However, today was a bluebird-sky day, with temperatures in the 50's, and we were eager to try out our new PA fishing licenses. 

We had scouted this section of Tobyhanna Creek near our cottage back on March 29, and, if you are curious, you can see how that went in this blog post.  We knew where the channels, pools and riffles were, and moved forward with purpose after rigging our fly rods at the Jeep:

Tobyhanna Creek is a beautiful freestone stream.  Kathy decided to wade the stream from near where we accessed it.  David, in contrast, decided to hike to each of the channels and pools he had spotted when we scouted the stream.  Here is one of the calm pools at the top of a riffle:

Kathy caught up to David below the mouth of Hummler Run and we see her, below, trying her luck where the water emptied into a riffle, carrying all that yummy fish food from Hummler Run:

David leap-frogged Kathy and hiked further down to another deep channel along our bank of the stream:

It was about at this time that disaster struck David's fishing.  

A little explanation is in order.  We each have two fly rods:  a standard rod, and a travel rod.  The travel rods collapse to a smaller size and have a small case for the rod and reel.  We got them for a trip to Banff when we fished the Bow River perhaps 15 years ago.  Since we started RV'ing in 2012, Kathy has favored her travel rod because, at 8'5", it is shorter than her 9' standard rod.  David, on the other hand, favors his 8' standard rod, and hasn't used his travel rod in over 12 years!

The years were kind to David's travel rod; it looks like new, compared to Kathy's, which looks well-loved.  The years were NOT so kind to David's leader and tippet, which had rested in that reel for the entire 12 years.  After David lost his third fly on nothing more than a standard cast, he began to suspect that his tippet had gotten brittle with the years and was breaking with little cause.  Finally, David tried to replace his old tippet with fresh, flexible tippet, but, after the fifth attempt to tie a new tippet to the leader, decided that his leader was so old itself that it wasn't flexible enough to hold a surgeon's knot with the tippet.  Every time David tied a new length of tippet onto the leader, the tippet stripped off, losing another fly.  After perhaps an hour of wrestling with his leader and tippet, David just gave up and enjoyed the day.

He did get this shot of Kathy trying her luck at a pool just below David's position:

Turning to nature, David decided to capture this shot upstream:

We saw some small tan mayflies come off the water, including, Kathy related, a Blue-Winged Olive.  But, try as we might, with a recommended dark-colored bead-head nymph and some of our own light tan mayfly imitations, we caught no fish.  

Indeed, after 2.5 hours on the stream, we saw not a bit of evidence of any trout!  We had learned that Tobyhanna Creek had been stocked at the Mill Pond in Tobyhanna Village, upstream of our position, and also in Tobyhanna Lake, further upstream.  But we began to surmise that none of these stocked trout had had enough time to work their way downstream to where we fished.  At least this sounded like a good excuse for why we found no trout.

We're hoping that, before we leave the area on April 21, we'll have one more chance to go trout fishing -- perhaps from our kayaks on Tobyhanna Lake.  

Stay tuned.  If we catch 'em, we'll smoke 'em!

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Jacobsburg State Park with Lennie and Bill

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Hi Blog!

It's hard to believe that in less than a month, we will be back on the road. As the weather warms, we have been dividing our time between sprucing up the RV and visiting family and friends. With vaccines in arms, we contacted our friends Lennie and Bill and arranged to meet for a scenic and historic hike in Jacobsburg State Park, also know as the  Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center

While we had driven past the park on the way to our cat sitter, we had never found the time to stop and explore. This park is Lennie's and Bill's go-to park for cross-country skiing. It didn't take long to see why. The trails are wide and well graded. Perfect for gliding along on your skiis or a morning of leisurely hiking.

Here we are at the trailhead:

Dave, Lennie, Bill and Kathy

There are over 19 miles of trails that cris-cross the park. We hiked the Henry Woods Trail which took us along Bushkill Creek.

Bushkill Creek

Bushkill Creek (Dutch for "bushy" or "forest creek") is a 22.1-mile-long tributary of the Delaware River in eastern Pennsylvania. Kathy and Lennie wandered down to the bank of the creek to see if any fish were rising.

Bill led the way to the bridge which took us across the creek, so we could hike back along the far side. Since the trees have not leafed out yet, we had views of a beautiful cloudless blue sky.

The stream in the photo below is one of several small runs that join Bushkill Creek:

This area was settled in 1740 by Jacob Hubler, who founded the community from which Jacobsburg draws its name.

The Henry's Woods Trail was named after the Henry family, famous gun makers during the revolutionary war. The first of the Henry gun makers, William Henry I, opened his gun factory in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1750. In 1792, Henry II purchased land at Jacobsburg and built a gun manufacturing plant.

The extended Henry family loved to hike and paddle. They would paddle their canoes up the creek and set up elaborate picnics along the banks.

The only one using the creek today was this lone goose.

Inside the boundaries of the state park lies the Jacobsburg National Historic District. The district is on the National Register of Historic Places. The history of Jacobsburg focuses on the Henry Family and their small arms industry; an industry that played a key role in the American Industrial Revolution.

A small babbling brook runs through the homestead. It is surrounded by daffodils!!! Our first flowers of spring.

In 1832, John Joseph Henry (1786-1836) and his wife Rebecca Smith Henry (1785-1871) built this ambitious Philadelphia townhouse on the Bushkill. Five generations of the Henry family lived in the home, filling it with musical instruments, books, tools, paintings, furniture, and numerous other personal belongings.

Mary Henry Stites (1907-1989), the great-great-grandchild of John Joseph Henry, bequeathed the home to the Jacobsburg Historical Society. The house is open for tours on certain days of the year. Today was not one of them.

Bill decided to return directly to the car, while Lennie decided to take us back the long way. Although we didn't know it at the time, Bill walked back along the creek directly across from us. He didn't happen to show up in this photo, but we spotted him moments later.  I suppose it's better to be across a creek than up a creek, especially if you don't have a paddle.

Here Lennie leads up across hill and dale.

We couldn't help ourselves. The minute we saw these flowers we had to stop and photograph them.

Unfortunately, the actual environmental center is still closed for Covid, so we were unable to explore all the exhibits. We ended the hike with a nice picnic lunch and a couple of brews. 

We hope to get out hiking again with Lennie and Bill before we leave town. So, stay tuned!