The past week has been a stretch of fine Winter weather. For some, a bit too blustery, cold and snowy.
And for some of us, just about perfect…
Several inches of natural snow are resting in the neighborhood. Seasonably warm, clear weather over the weekend and perfect snow conditions on the slopes of Elk Mountain and in the neighborhood woods is the perfect setup for enjoying the outdoors.
No plans? Wander over to Trail head at Rail-Trail Office in Union Dale, Pa @ 1pm ,February 18th , Saturday and enjoy a Discovery Walk with Jim Kessler & Winter Bingo. Details at http://www.nepa-rail-trails.org
One way or another, get out and enjoy the best combination of weather and snow in years!
Late morning sun casts through hemlock brightening the surface of icy cold barely flowing creek water.
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.
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…
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.
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!
Saw this fellow feeding on some still green tinged grass, exposed by recent warm weather.
Odd thing, this patch of snow was near the top of Elk Mountain! Last year, a muskrat spent several weeks wintering just a few feet from where this porcupine was spotted.
Though sickness could have brought him out amongst people in the daylight, it is not unusual to see many different critters high on The Hill.
Sick or not, we gave this guy a wide berth as he enjoyed some rare late December sun rays, filling his belly with a taste of summer.
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.
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.
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.