A Sunny And Hot Hike On The Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails

A Sunny And Hot Hike On The Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails

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The heat wave continued here in Northeastern Pennsylvania on Sunday. Temperatures would reach 90 degrees again. I decided to stay  close to home and hike on the local Greater Hazleton  Rails to Trails  in Hazle Township, Luzerne County. I took my usual 2 mile  early morning walk in my neighborhood and then drove to the eastern parking lot of the trail near Hazle Brook. I was only going to walk 5 miles because of the heat.  I arrived around 8:30 a.m. and began my hike in the mainly mixed oak /maple hardwood woodlands. 

The trail continues for about a mile under the now old and large second growth trees. It was nice and cool under their green canopy of leaves.  Unlike my walks in the Spring there  were  very song  birds singing in the tree tops. I only heard a few red-eyed vireos in the distance. I didn’t  see or hear any of  the many  oven birds that were here a few weeks ago,

It was near a pole line right of way where  I heard and saw a few field sparrows singing in the trees along the trail,

and a few turkey vultures flew overhead. 

Also long the pole line right of were  some Summer wildflowers including the  pretty purple flowers of the  invasive bull thistles, and, 

this  native steeplebush,

and  spotted knapweed. All of these purple flowers attracted  insects now very active in the Summer heat.

I also saw  deep root clubmoss,

and fan clubmoss growing along the trail. In the  cold weather months these evergreen plants stand out in the snow and brown leaf litter. In the Spring and Summer, when everything is lush and green, they go unnoticed but they are still there, growing in the heat of Summer. 

The trail  leaves the oak woodlands and continues along a stream and some  abandoned coal strip mines. Pitch pines trees  grew along the trail, 

There were a few insects along the trail I am not positive but I believe this is a silver-spotted skipper butterfly.

This, I believe is a female ebony jewelwing damselfly,

and this one staring at my camera is a male. 

There were also a few more birds in these woodlands including some American robins. 

black-capped chickadees and

this white-breasted nuthatch. 

The trail passed through a tunnel and entered a large strip mine reclamation area. In the  Spring I saw dozens of migratory songbirds in the young pine, birch , aspen and  locust trees growing in the  reclaimed lands.  On Sunday, I didn’t see or hear a single bird in the reclaimed area. 

There were a few more wildflowers blooming  here including some of the last daisies, and

eastern daisy fleabane  flowers of the Summer,  If  you look closely, one of the fleabane flowers have a spider on it.  

Some yellow and 

purple loosestrife also bloomed on the trail. 

As did these yellow flowers, St. Johns Worth,

field mustard, 

and smooth hawksbeard.  It is easy to overlook all of the beautiful wildflowers blooming around us.  Although not as showy as their hybrid  relatives blooming in our flower gardens they play a vital role in Nature, providing pollen and nectar for the insects, who also pollinate our fruit and vegetable crops. 

After about a 3/4 of a mile hike through the reclamation lands the trail  crosses  over an active railroad-right of way on a new bridge built by the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trail organization.  The trail  follows an old railroad right-0f-way that brought coal from  the patch  towns around the city of Hazleton. I have written a few blogs  on the history of the trail and they can be found in the archives using the research tool on my blog website. 

After crossing  the bridge,   the trail enters some old strip mines woodlands before entering another older oak woodlands. The large oak trees provided shade from the hot July sun. I  love the way the sun that filers through  lights of the leaves of the trees along the trail, these are  gray birch trees 

and these aspen trees. 

There were also a few more birds active in the shade of these deeper woods. There were a few eastern towhees foraging on the ground in the leaf litter, occasionally perching in a branch and singing. 

The oaks were now producing acorns, a sing Summer was near it’s peak. 

I was surprised to see this hermit thrush  along the trail. They are usually residents of  deeper woodlands.

After I had walked 2 1/2 miles on the trail I came to the heath, scrub oak  and  pine barrens.   I attached a link to an informative article on the barren and I have many blogs about them in my archives. It was here I decided to   end my hike and start back to my  Jeep. 

The temperature had risen to the mid 80’s  and  there  was little shade for the first 1 1/2 mile of my hike. It was hot walking in the July sun and  I saw no wildlife activity  until, 

I came to the oak woodlands on the last mile of my return hike. Here I saw a house wren and, 

this pretty blue-headed vireo.

It was feeding on a grub or caterpillar when I first saw it.

It then began to sing, probably very happy with it’s early morning meal.

  I made it the masthead photo on this blog. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog webpage with some more photos of the birds I saw on my hike, Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails birds July 24 2022. 

I finished my hike under the shade of the oak trees. I had hoped to see the bear that has been roaming in the woodlands along the trail but I didn’t see it.  It was still a nice 5 mile hike in the Summer heat.  The Greater Hazleton Area Rails to Trails is always a great place to hike in any season Of course, my favorite is the Spring and Summer, even if the temperature reaches 90 degrees. I love Summer .  Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my hike. Greater Hazleton Rails to Trail July 24 2022. 

“Summer, dropping so easily a delicious everything upon your skin and lips. Like a never-ending kiss — taunting, deep, and luscious. The sun. The heat. The thousand echoes of a timelessness before time, when every day seems longer than the next and no day seems likely to ever truly end. Summer.” ― Carew Papritz

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