A Forgotten Memory Card Results In An Early Fall Hike On The Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails.

A Forgotten Memory Card Results In An Early Fall Hike On The Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails.

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I took a pleasant five mile hike on the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails on Saturday.  And it wasn’t planned.  I was planning on visiting the Susquehanna Wetlands in  Salem Township , hoping to see the river otters again.  But, after driving the 40 minutes to the wetlands nature preserve, I  discovered I forgot the memory card for my camera. I really wanted to try and photograph  the river otters again so I decided to drive back home and return to the wetlands the following day,  with my camera, and memory card. .  

When I returned to my home in Hazle Township I decided to stay in town  and hike on the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails located about two miles from my house.  When I arrived at the trail  the skies were clear. A brilliant September sun was shining  low on the southeastern horizon. It was a chilly 45 degrees when  I started  my hike around 8:30 a.m. 

There were a lot of cars in the parking lot and I encountered almost two dozen folks enjoying this wonderful, well maintained  trail. (I have posted quite a few blogs about hike on the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails and it’s history. You can search them in the archives using the search tool). It was quiet as I walked on the trail as many of the songbirds have already migrated south. Some of the leaves on the trees had already turned changed into their pretty fall colors, including many of the red maples. However, most of the leaves on the trees were still green. 

But, Fall was in the air. There were still some flowers blooming along the trail, especially in the wildflower garden found near the start of the trail, including pretty purple native  New England asters, 

native yellow sneezeweed flowers

and these native orange  coneflowers. (yes they are yellow too).  

Also growing near the entrance of the trail  were some pretty day lily flowers. 

I followed the trail for about a quarter of a mile when it l took a sharp turn and headed south and east into the brilliant morning sun. I love walking under the canopy of trees as the early morning sun filtered through the leaves. 

In the western sky the waning gibbous moon was high above the horizon. 

On the ground   there were many acorns that fells from the oaks trees along the trail. It looks like there will be a good crop of acorns this year.   This is good news for the wildlife as Winter approaches. 

There were also some mushrooms growing along the trail. It was a very good year for wild mushrooms because of all of the rains that fell during the Summer. Although it is late in the season I found  a few puffball mushrooms,

an old man of the woods bolete mushroom, 

some, I believe, chicken fat bolete mushrooms and 

surprisingly, some old honey mushrooms known, in these parts,  as “popinkies” or “stumpers”.  These are delicious edible mushrooms  and sought after by mushroom hunters like me.  But, please don’t gather and eat  any wild mushrooms unless you have someone  familiar with the mushroom confirm their edibility. There are deadly wild mushrooms growing in our woodlands. 

As I continued my hike the late September sun shone at a low angle through the leaves of the trees.

The trail crosses an active highway and continues on to the Dreck Creek Reservoir through the lands of the local water authority. 

More signs of Fall could be found along the trail. The bracken ferns,

and lady ferns were  already  starting to turn  brown and shrivel up.

And the hay scented ferns were starting to turn yellow and their sweet aroma fill the cool morning air. 

Another plant that turns color early are the low bush blueberry or huckleberry plants. Most have now had at list some red color on their leaves and some had turned completely red. 

The sassafras trees were also changing colors, they are always one of the first to do so, 

turning from green to various shades of red, yellow and orange. 

It was a peaceful walk under the canopy of trees. 

A few more wildflowers bloomed along the trail including many species of aster, such as the  frost aster, 

and the panicled aster. 

Spotted knapweed and 

praire fleabane also bloomed along the trail. 

After hiking 2 1/2 miles I came to the picnic area near the reservoir where I turned around and began my hike back.

On the way back the sun warmed the cool morning air and a few insects made an appearance. They were visiting another late Summer wild flower, some consider a nuisance because of it’s pollen’s  contribution to allergies, the goldenrod flower. 

There were some bees, 

and yellow jackets flying from flower to flower and this one rested on a leaf. 

And more proof there are still some insects active this late in the season where the many spider webs that i saw in the woodlands along the trail. 

Also, on my return hike I finally heard, and saw a few birds. 

I heard some  crows and blue jays calling in the distance and I saw a flock of black-capped-chickadees feeding in the treetops. As usual a few came down to the trail.  This gregarious birds seem to not fear human activity and so are always easy to photograph.

It was a pleasant hike back to the parking lot under the clear blue skies and brilliant late September sun. 

I didn’t see as much  wildlife on my hike as I would have in the Susquehanna Wetlands but I did encounter two dozen or more people enjoying the trail walking, running and biking.  We are fortunate to have this beautiful, wonderful, well maintained trail in our area.  And it should be more beautiful in the next few days as Mother Nature puts on her annual Fall display of colors. Enjoy! I’m Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs from my hike on the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails on Saturday. Rails to Trails hike September 25 2021. 

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
― Albert Camus





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