A Quiet And Mild Christmas Morning Hike
It wasn’t a White Christmas this year here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Last year we had snow and below zero temperatures on Christmas. . Not this year, it was an unseasonably mild 40 degrees when I awoke on Christmas morning. In the past I would always visit my parents and aunts early on Christmas morning. They are all gone now, so I decided to take a hike on my favorite hiking trail in the Susquehanna Wetlands in Salem Township Luzerne County early Christmas morning and walk off the calories from my large meal at my nephew’s house the night before.
It was the perfect place for a Christmas morning hike. I have come to know and love this private nature preserve that I have been visiting for the past 12 years. In the past I would be hiking the trails I grew up on near my home in the Green Ridge section of Hazle Township and reflecting on the end of another year. However, most of these woodlands have been developed for industrial, commercial and residential uses and I had to look else to enjoy the beauty of nature. So I drove to the wetlands arrived under partly sunny skies I parked at the gate to the wetlands. The access road is closed for the Winter so I had to walk in to the trailhead.
As usual, I first walked down to the banks of the Susquehanna River. I look for the bald eagles that live here but seldom see them. I also like to reflect on the history of this ancient river, and the many different people who traveled on and along it over the centuries.
I walked into the wetlands, where I found the ponds and waters were now mostly ice free, which is unusual for late December. I hoped I might see a great blue heron or some wood ducks on the open waters, but I didn’t.
I soon found out why I may not have seen many birds and other critters. I met a couple of birders walking back from the Water Fowl Pond trail. And then I saw another couple after them. We exchanged Christmas greetings and they said they didn’t see much wildlife either. It was nice seeing other folks enjoying the natural beauty of the wetlands on this mild Christmas morning..
I continued on the the main trail to the Water Fowl Pond and found it was still flooded so I began hiking toward the river lands. I was surprised there wasn’t more bird activity. Maybe they were spending Christmas morning with their families.
I did hear the unmistakable cry of a pileated woodpecker in the distance. .I love seeing these woodpeckers, the largest of the seven species in our State. As I looked for the woodpecker I received a phone call from an old friend. I took the call and was having a pleasant conversation when the pileated woodpecker landed on a tree top allowing me to take some photos as I chatted.
I continued my hike, and phone conversation, and encountered a few more humans walking in the wetlands. I ended my pleasant telephone call and walked back down to the river,
It was a nice way to spend Christmas morning alone. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos from my five mile hike. Susquehanna Wetlands December 25 2023.
“Christmas will always be as long as we stand heart to heart and hand in hand.” –Dr. Seuss
I truly believe that if we keep telling the Christmas story, singing the Christmas songs, and living the Christmas spirit, we can bring joy and happiness and peace to this world.” –Norman Vincent Peale