An Easter Morning Hike Through The Scenic And Historic Lehigh Gap.

An Easter Morning Hike Through The Scenic And Historic Lehigh Gap.

Lehigh Gap (15 of 47)
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For most of my life I would spend Easter morning at my parents house.  As a  child, after attending Mass , we  always ate  our first meal on Easter Sunday from  the Easter basket that was filled with traditional Polish foods and blessed on Holy Saturday.   We  would then  eat chocolate candy the Easter bunny had left  and   “roll”  dyed Easter eggs for jelly beans with my four siblings.  These Polish traditions continued when I became  an adult.  I would always visit early Easter morning  and eat the traditional hard boiled egg from the Easter basket with my dad. I would  spend  Easter morning with him and mom waiting for my siblings ,  nephews and nieces to arrive later in the day. We would carry out the  same Polish customs my dad thought us. Good times they were, My dad, mom,  sister and her husband have now  departed this life.  So now, being alone, I spent this Easter morning doing what I love most, hiking in the  woodlands near  home in Northeastern Pennsylvania and observing the beauty of Nature I find there. My dad instilled in  me this love of Nature.   Now, with the internet and  a good camera  I love sharing the beauty I  find  here on my blog and social media.  Sorry for long intro but I  wanted to explain why I was hiking on Easter Sunday. I find peace and comfort in the woods.  God is here. 

Anyways,  on  Easter  morning it was cloudy and a cold  30 degrees. There were  some snow flurries in the air and snow squalls were in the forecast for Luzerne County. Looking at the local radar I decided to drive  25 miles south and hike the trails along the Lehigh River where it flowed through the scenic and historic Lehigh Gap.  The radar was right.  There was no snow and the skies were partly cloudy  when I arrived at the D & L Heritage Trail  ( D & L Trail ) in Bowmanstown. 

I have hiked this trail many times.  I have shared  more information on my earlier blog posts. You can search for them in the archives.  On Sunday morning I followed the trail south. It followed  the Lehigh River as it neared the Blue Mountain and passed through the  famous Lehigh  Gap. I hiked on the trail a short distance and left to explore  the Three Ponds Trail area . This trail leads into some wetlands  and three small ponds. 

Here  I found some signs of Spring. The skunk cabbage,

and garlic mustard were  growing along the trail. 

I saw a hawk in a tree but couldn’t get a photo. I was able to photograph  a few of the white-throated sparrows I saw in the shrubs along the trail. 

They are a pretty bird. 

There were also a few red-winged blackbirds singing in the tree tops in the wetlands. around the trail.

I had hoped to see some water fowl on the three ponds that the trail was named after but there were none on this cool morning. 

Instead  of following the D & L trail through the gap I decided to take the short, but steep path 

up to the Lehigh and New England Trail. This trail follows the path of the abandoned railroad that first spanned the Lehigh Gap via  a bridge constructed at the beginning of  the last century. It is a scenic trail and I have seen many migrating song birds  and some bald eagles while hiking this trail in past Springs. .  

There wasn’t much wildlife activity on this chilly hike. 

I saw a few field sparrows, 

and a turkey vulture while hiking on this trail for about two miles. 

I was disappointed not seeing a lot of birds, but the views up here on this trail made up for it. There  were spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.  

Large cumulus clouds floated over the the mountains on the horizon, 

the Lehigh River flowed far below. 

There were not many trees along  the trail. They were killed by the toxic fumes that emanated from the New Jersey Zinc  Company    that operated in the nearby town of Palmerton, for almost 100 years.  The once barren hillsides are now covered in native grasses and birch, sassafras, and pine trees are started to grow here. 

The town of Palmerton can be seen across the river. 

I continued my early morning hike and met a pleasant couple also out for an Easter morning walk. 

The clouds  grew thicker and darkened  the sky as I continued my hike and approached a “haunted house” standing alone atop a hill  near Palmerton.

It is now remodeled and occupied but a few years ago it was abandoned, dilapidated and allegedly haunted. We called it the “Adam’s Family house when we would drive past. It is situated on Marshall’s Hill, named after the most interesting Civil War general, Elisha Marshall.  who built it in 1881. I attached a link to the general’s name and I would recommend reading this most interesting history of the house. 

Walking past the house I now approached the historic Lehigh Gap.  So much history passed through this gap in the Blue Mountain.

Native Americans followed the Lehigh River on the “Nescopeck Trail” which took them to the  “Warrior Path” on the Susquehanna River. Moravian explorers and settlers came through the gap clearing the woodlands north of the Blue Mountain for farms and towns in the wilderness. Clashes with the Native Americans ensued and Benjamin Franklin passed through the gap to build Fort Allen in Weissport to protect the settlors. . Later  a canal was built to transport anthracite coal and lumber to the growing cities of Philadelphia and New York.

Railroads replaced the canals and some still are active along the Lehigh River.  I stood at the overlook and reflected on this history until the snow I tried to escape from my home in Luzerne County caught up with me. A snow squall arrived as I descended the steep path back down to the D & L trail,

and continued as I walked to the Visitors Center at the Lehigh Gap. 

I now had to walk back north on the trail into the snow  and wind. It wasn’t a pleasurable hike. 

However, the snow stopped and eventually some sun shone through the  breaks in the clouds as I continued on my 2 1/2  mile hike back to my Jeep.

I was again hoping to see some bald eagles fly overhead or to see some duck or other waterfowl on the river. I didn’t see any bald eagles and only saw a coupld of Canada  geese being swept down on the current of the fast flowing waters. 

Walking  on the trail as it followed the river,

I  also saw a lot of blue gray gnatcatchers that were migrating through the gap. 

There must have been a dozen of this petite birds  fluttering in the trees along the trail. 

They rarely stand still and I must have taken  over a hundred photos to get these few images.

I also saw a few American robins

a couple of eastern phoebes, 

a few more field sparrows and

this male house finch on my return hike.  Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs of the birds I saw on my Easter morning hike. Lehigh Gap birds April 17 2022. 

It was a nice walk while the sun shone.

The scenic  trail  along the river had a few small waterfalls cascading form the hills above.

As I approached my car the clouds returned. Another snow squall began as I  finished my  6 1/2 mile hike. I was a little disappointed I didn’t see some more wildlife on my hike but I enjoyed  the few birds and the spectacular views I saw  on this  quiet, peaceful and reflective Easter morning hike.   I drove back home and looked forward to spending the afternoon with my family at my niece’ s house where we continued to keep many of our  Polish customs.   Here is a link to another gallery with photographs from my Easter morning hike. Lehigh Gap hike April  17 2022 

 

Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtimeMartin Luther

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