January Thaw


Last night, rain took away the natural snowpack. Cold came back this morning after dawn; strong wind, sun, clouds, sleet and flurries now. This young girl got to sleep in Spring like temperatures last night, and doesn’t mind the thaw at all – she is enjoying foraging what was left behind by last autumn, without having to paw through deep snow.

Though we’ll need a good snowfall to resume cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, skiing at Elk should be excellent for the weekend and beyond – perfect snow making conditions now, and for at least the next week.

Kilgore Memorial Race, Wilburger Memorial Race, and Women’s Ski Days will be held at Elk Mountain. Music this weekend all over the valley – Hitchin’ Cricket and Six East Band at Chet’s Place, Blue London at Stone Bridge. For those venturing off The Hill – tomorrow is First Friday Scranton, and Classical Guitarist Gohar Vardanyan is in concert at The University of Scranton.

Snow Pines


Though snow pales the view at this time of year to mostly silver and gray, pines punctuate this slope with glimpses of green from under their cold coat; the underbrush borders the scene with it’s auburn stems.

Home to frequent rainbows, often source of coyote howls and the slurred squeal of hawks, usually the place autumn shows it’s first trembling of color, this valley speaks, telling of the seasons, witnesses the beings who live here and migrate through.

A drop of water that falls exactly at the top of this ridge will split in two – one half ending up in the Lackawanna River, the other, in the East Branch of the Tunkhannock Creek, on to the Susquehanna River finally flowing into the Chesapeake Bay.

The frigid weather has moderated to bracing. The crew at Elk has been making the most of this weather: snowguns running hard in subzero weather have been putting out nothing less than “white smoke”. Conditions are excellent for Winterfest tomorrow at Elk. There’s enough natural snow for great snow-shoeing or xc-skiing on the Rail-Trails – meet at 10:00 at the Union Dale trailhead.

Stop by one of the local eateries like “The View” in Clifford for a hearty meal to make sure you’ve got plenty of “coal in the furnace” and get out and enjoy some of the best winter weather and activities in years!


photo by Rich Sax

Wikipedia reports: “In meteorology, an inversion is a deviation from the normal change of an atmospheric property with altitude. It almost always refers to a ‘temperature inversion’, i.e., an increase in temperature with height, or to the layer (‘inversion layer’) within which such an increase occurs.”

This is the view from the top of Elk Mountain early last Saturday morning. For much of the day, nearly the entire landscape rested under a thick silver blanket. Sugarloaf Mountain and Mount Ararat, the highest point in Wayne County and less than 100 feet lower than Elk, were a couple of the few points that remained visible above the cloud bank.

After skiing down through the clouds, it was a joy to tell the other skiers who had yet to ride to the top of the mountain of the uncommon, beautiful site that awaited them on the summit.

Apple Pear Sunset


Here’s another spectacular sky as the sun sets behind the apple and pear trees in the backyard. Only when the Earth is tipped far away from the Sun does the sky burst into such colors on this side of The Hill.

Like the Summer rainbows that often fill the Eastern valley, the vibrancy of these sunsets is brief. The sun nears the horizon of a pale silver, cold sky, with just a hint of salmon in the high thin clouds. As the Sun disappears behind the horizon, for a very few minutes, usually only two or three, the sky flames into hues of yellow and orange striped in front of the cold blue sky.

Extraordinary beauty, even when repetitive, merits our gratitude.

January Sunset


It’s not been above freezing for days, lake effect squalls, as if aimed only at The Hill, continue to dust and freshen the surface of the foot deep snowpack with snow so light and delicate it looks artificial. One can become resolved to monochromatic scenery frozen into monotony: white snow, gray trees, silver sky.

And then, as if to restore faith that the sun is indeed becoming warmer and more prominent each day, the sky bursts momentarily into a vibrant spectrum, yellow to violet through indigo, as it gently slips behind the cold summit of the South Knob.

For the last week, and for the foreseeable future, downhill and cross-country ski conditions could probably be better, but, it’s uncertain how.

Check out The Wanderlist, and see that music will vibe up through the valleys this weekend, opportunities to fill bellies with hot breakfasts abound, discount lift tickets available to lure you out to the Big and Friendly. Don’t hesitate – go ahead – do it! Come out and enjoy The Hill attired in it’s Winter’s finest!