A Windy November Hike On The Railroad Tracks.
November weather finally arrived here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. It was a blusterly day, with temperatures dropping into the 30’s on a strong northwesterly wind. With the events in Paris heavy on my mind, I decided to stay close to home and hike the local railroad tracks near my house.
I have been hiking these tracks since I was in around third grade. And, after they reclaimed or developed many of the woods and strip mines I grew up on, I find this hike very comforting. Lot of wonderful memories out here.
I headed west, into the wind, and walked past the mine reclamation area. This area was a mixture of strip mines, culm hills and back coal dirt. It may have looked ugly to some folks but it was our world and we loved it. Only memories remain but they sure are good ones.
The tracks continue west and along the ridge that separated the coal in the valley from the rock atop the ridge. At the end of the ridge the tracks curve north. They run along a few old streams, one of which had a wooden through where we would drink the cool, clear water flowing from the ground.
Unlike the Summer, when the trees are filled with birds and their songs, i only saw a few blue jays, sparrows, chickadees and a woodpecker. I couldn’t get a goo photograph of any of them. And now that the trees are bare, I did see a lot of abandoned nests, which where hidden from me by the heavy foliage in the Summer.
On the northern side of the ridge, Shiny Creek would flow under the tracks. It drained one of the nicest wetlands I had ever seen. I always found a turtle or saw a snake, a raccoon, or some other critter in that swamp. Unfortunately, the creek was diverted and somehow a factory was built on this “wetland”.
I hiked the tracks through the Valmont Industrial Park, following a path taken by my dad when he was a boy. He told me he skipped school one day and walked out the “third rail” or electric trolley. He walked pack the Atlas powder plant and along the same track I hiked to his home in Crystal Ridge. I am not sure where the Atlas plant was located and if anyone does please let me know.
The old “third rail” tracks that run along my property were removed about 20 years ago and the right of way is become eroded by the runoff from the Lowes and Weis development that was built there almost 20 years ago.
As I often do in the fall and winter, I stopped at a stream that runs through my property and built a fire. There is no better way to relax and rest than next to a roaring and crackling fire. I have been building fires out here since I was 10 years old. Hope to continue this tradition until I am 100 years old. Here is a link to some more photographs of the fire. I can watch wood burn for hours. I guess I am easily amused. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/valmont-railroad-hike-fire-november-14-2015
I walked the tracks into West Hazleton and the “lower” Babe Ruth and now, Little League fields. These too have changed, but not the memories of the many days spent out here. I walked home the half mile to my house, much more refreshed and relaxed than when I left. Walking always does that for me, but even more so when it out on this very oft used route. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike today. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/valmont-railroad-hike-november-14-2015
“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”
― Gautama Buddha