A Leafless, Lifeless, Quiet But Pleasant November Walk On The Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails.
I returned to another one of my favorite hiking trails, close to home, last Sunday, the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails located in Hazle Township in L:uzerne County. I began my hike on the eastern trailhead, near the village of Hazle Brook in Foster Township. I always hope to encounter one of the bears that are occasionally seen in this more remote part of the 6 mile trail. There were no bears when I arrived. In fact there was not a critter stirring when I began my early morning hike.
In the warmer months, when I enter the woodlands here I am greeted with the songs of warblers, vireos, tanagers and other migratory song birds as well as the many birds that reside here year long. Not on Sunday, not a sound. It was partly cloudy and seasonably cold with temperatures in the 20’s. The trees were bare, their fallen leaves covering the trail. There were no deer, rabbits, chipmunks or squirrels in the woodlands either. It was quiet and peaceful but I’d still prefer the sounds of the birds and insects in the Summer. But I’m not going to sit inside all Winter so I will make the best of these lifeless months.
I walked down to the small pond, created to supply water to the strip mining operations in the area. There are always, phoebes, towhees and wrens here in the summer. And I often see a great blue heron or beaver on the pond. There wasn’t a creature to be seen Sunday.
Once the trail passes through a culvert, under a haul road for a still active nearby mining operation, the trail continues through a reclamation area where large strip mines were filled and new trees, mainly pine, birch locust, alder and aspen were planted.
I have seen many migratory song birds here in the Spring, and a few in the Fall but there were no birds on this cold morning. I was very surprised not to even see the usual Winter resident birds. I know there will not be as many birds here as in the Susquehanna Wetlands, my favorite nature hiking area, There are not many species of berries in the reclamation areas such a the winterberry, poison ivy berries, and green briar berries as there are in the wetlands. These birds provide food for the birds in the cold Winter months. However, I still thought a few birds would be foraging the reclamation area. But there weren’t
In addition to the trees planted in the reclamation areas there are many red oak and other trees planted along the trail, gifts form sponsors of the trail. Hopefully in a 100 years the trail will pass underneath the shade of large oak trees thanks to the generosity of this far sited folks.
I came to the bridge that crosses the active railroad right of way that has existed here for over 175 years. As I have noted in previous blogs ( you can research words and topics in the search and archive tools on my blog site) most of the immigrants from Germany, Ireland, Italy and Eastern Europe, including my grandparents would have taken this train to get to their new homes in a new land to work in the coal mines. Residents, businessmen and other visitors to the area also used the train. And, of course, millions of tons of coal were transported to the cities on this railroad.
The trail continued through some abandoned strip mines. The old strip mines remain, as do the banks created from the overburden removed from the strip mines that revealed the veins of anthracite coal. These strip mines and culm banks were my playground when I was a child.
The trail then continues on to the old access road to a beryllium processing plant that operated in this remote area in the 1950’s. 1960’s and 1070’s The plants was closed and became a hazardous waste site.
and continued for about another 1/2 mile. I was not out about 2 1/2 miles and began my hike back to my Jeep It was here that I saw this critter run off into the distance as I approached. I wasn’t sure what it was until I cropped the photos and, with the help of friends, identified it as a large feral cat. I thought it unusual to see it out so far from any town or humans.
There are a lot of pitch pines out here and I remember them from the many days I spent here in high school This secluded road was one of our favorite underage drinking spots. We spent many an evening sitting around a fire out here.
I finished my five mile hike in under 2 hours. This was a very fast hike for me. When I am seeing birds and wildlife I spend 4 to 5 hours waiting patiently to get photos of the critters I see, when they are around to photograph.
Many a late November the ground would be covered in snow. Even with no flowers. or leaves, or birds, or birds I was grateful for the beautiful show in the sky. It sure was better than sitting inside. And, I am sure I will still be hiking out here when the snow and ice come, which they will. It is a great trail. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my five mile hike. Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails November 26 2023.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member—
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,