Category Archives: Around The Hill

Stillwater Cliffs

stillwater_cliffs

Just north of Forest City the Stillwater Cliffs overlook the Stillwater Dam along route 171.

This hill is home to about the only granite left in the neighborhood, the rest having been eroded many many thousands of years ago.

Almost half way through ski season, there’s reason for brightening moods. After what seemed like months of skiing in rain on stale snow, this week’s Clippers have once again whitened the neighborhood, leaving almost enough snow for cross-country skiing. Downhill skiing has been extraordinary at Elk this week. The snow crew and nature conspired to give us velvety surfaces to ski on, some mornings dusted with a few inches of natural. 

Though the days have been lengthening for over a month, the increased sunlight is finally noticeable.  The afternoons shine brightly enough to actually cause one to feel warmth on the cheeks for a little while. Dawn comes earlier and earlier. Now, the first chair lift ride to open the mountain is no longer in darkness.

Soon, mud season will make itself more and more prominent, and we’ll be trying to hold on to the Winter season and all the joy it brings.

But for now, in the heart of Winter, with brightening days and seasonable weather, it’s time to cherish each and every moment.

Grizzled Stillwater

grizzled_stillwater

Optimistic weather forecasts early in the week had me assuring dog that we’d be cross-country skiing on our trails in a couple of days.

Alas, we’ll both have to continue to remain hopeful for an agreeably seasonable February and beyond.

Instead of near a foot of snow, the recent nor’easter left the neighborhood glistening in a brilliant coating of ice.

This view from Skyline Drive in Union Dale shows the Stillwater Dam silvered against the grey hills just north of Forest City.

Will it grow?

will_it_grow

Coming home from a recent walk with dog, a glance to the side of the trail revealed this acorn suspended in the crook of a tree.

From its current posture, having accumulated some moisture from fallen snow, it looks like water would not be a problem. Sun will be able to reach it fine most of the day. However, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of nutrients to fuel its growth. 

A caprice of nature, or perhaps one of her studied experiments – being merely human, I can’t tell.  Odds are, this seed won’t result in a tree growing upon a tree.

I didn’t disturb it, just in case, ’cause you never know…

 

Closing Time

closing_time

The trails on Elk Mountain that fall along the northern shoulder of the mountain are not illuminated for night skiing, and so must be closed in the late afternoon by the ski patrol.

This time of year, closing time coincides with the sunset. Depending upon which side of the mountain a patroller is assigned for trail closing, the view may be of the shadowed valley to the east, or an expansive view of Northeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New York to the north west.

This view often presents when one can clearly see the details of distant rolling hills. Sometimes this view is best enjoyed by viewing the setting sun filtered through cold pines.

The Schuylkill

schuylkill

Descending northward, the Schuylkill trail accesses terrain on the north side of Elk Mountain.

The slope gently runs along a ridge from which the steep pitches of the Wyalusing, Chippewa, and Tecumseh descend.

Whether one chooses to veer right down the gentle Tioga back toward the lodge, or careen down one of the expert slopes farther along the trail, the Schuylkill affords some of the most beautiful scenery on the mountain!

 

Ice Air

ice_air

It’s not uncommon for limbs and twigs to wear a coating of ice when a rain is followed close on by freezing air.

Sometimes, even after seemingly clear weather, the cold causes the last bit of humidity in the air to cling to any exposed surface.

Such the case last week when temperatures fluctuated above freezing, then plummeted to near zero. The cold air has allowed an extraordinary amount of snow to be made on The Big and Friendly; skiing this week has been spectacular.

 

South Knob Hallstead Hill

south_knob_hallstead_hill

The road leading out of Elkdale follows the Tunkhannock creek along the valley floor before beginning its climb on Lyon Street toward Elk Mountain.

As it is not part of any convenient route from from the outside world to The Hill, this side of the neighborhood, one of the most picturesque, is often unseen by visitors to the area. 

Growing up near Clifford, this was the path brother and his friends drove to go skiing. Most times, even if reluctantly, I’d be allowed to go up on the mountain with the ‘big kids’.

At that time, countless blissful days were spent skiing in blue jeans that, if new enough, would scuff out a patch of blue dye on the snow when gravity got the best of you.

Even though young, our legs would ache after a full day of adventure and exploration skiing with friends on the mountain’s cold, snowy slopes.

Near dark, we’d careen home along this ‘back way’ to the mountain. With “Mountain” rock and roll blaring too loud, from the back seat I’d watch through tired eyes as brother’s little convertible nearly skimmed off the deep walls of snow cut by the snowplow through impossibly deep snowpacks.

To home, home at last.

We’d peel off our soggy blue jeans, and be allowed to wear our long johns to the dinner table.  

The warmth and comfort of a big steaming bowl of pasta served up by Mother would conspire with the fatigue of our growing bodies, causing our eyelids to droop as we barely made it from the table to under the covers, tired, joyful, contented.

 

 

Snow Making

Elk Mountain Ski Resort Web Cam Image www.elkskier.com
Elk Mountain Ski Resort Web Cam Image www.elkskier.com

A strong wind recently changed the weather for the better. Arctic cold is now creeping into the neighborhood. Lake effect squalls have dusted the neighborhood with a festive coating of snow.

Temperatures might get above freezing on Monday. Otherwise, 20’s and teens will rule for the next few days.

The distant roar of the snow guns have kept us company day and night for the past days. Long johns, new gloves and goggles have been waiting in the ski bag since last Spring.

There are murmerings in the neighborhood, echoing the hope, and the likelihood, that we’ll be downhill skiing sometime this week…

Check www.elkskier.com for details.

 

Refuge

Refuge

Soon after dawn, these girls, along with about a half dozen of their friends sidled along the far side of the stone fence.

At first, it was uncertain if they meant to bed down along the wall hoping to somehow pass the day safe and unnoticed, or were making themselves inconspicuous on their way to someplace else.

Several minutes, and several doe passed, turned, and  branching off of the cross-country ski trail, headed into thicker cover.

Before the last one disappeared, their young buck, seeing all was safe, emerged from the mist at the edge of the clearing.

His spikes at first, shown white and raw only recently having had the velvet scraped off, then faded, almost ghostly, as he disappeared back into the grey of morning.