Another Hike In The Heat And Humidity In State Game Lands 119 In Carbon County

Another Hike In The Heat And Humidity In State Game Lands 119 In Carbon County

State Game Lands 119 (36 of 50)
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The heat wave continued  on Sunday morning here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I was up early again  to get my hiking in and try and beat the heat. I have not seen any black bears visit my backyard in Hazle Township Luzerne County this year. And I only saw one bear , briefly,  on my hike to Bruce Lake in Pike County. I love to encounter, and photograph these beautiful   often misunderstood animals.  I have seen many bears on hikes in the State Game Lands 119  in Dennison Township, Luzerne County so that is where I decided to hike.

 I drove the 20 miles to the trailhead on an access road into the game lands. The last 2 miles over a pretty rutted dirt road. I was excited when a large black bear ran across the road. I was hoping I may see more on my planned 7 mile hike. The skies were  cloudy skies around 7 a.m. when I arrived. It was humid and the temperature was already in the 70’s.

I left my Jeep and began my hike on the access road that took me through a mostly oak and maple hardwood second growth forest, with scrub oak,

and bracken ferns growing along the road.

I soon heard the eerie song of a veery, one of many I would hear on my hike.

I also saw an ovenbid,

an eastern towhee and 

a red-eyed vireo. All of these birds were very common in woodlands here and I would hear them during my entire hike.

A few ox eye daisy and

St John’s wort flowers were blooming along the trail. Although they are pretty they are invasive and harmful to the native wildflower species,

such as the native little evening primrose flowers.

I also saw my first sign there were black bears active in the area. This serviceberry  or shad bush was pulled over the trail, a favorite food of black bears.  I am sure a bear pulled it down to eat the berries. We called these native berries Juneberries. The white flowers on this plant are one of the first to bloom  in the Spring. The early settlers called them serviceberries.  When these plants bloomed they would  bury their family and friends  who died in the Winter  since the ground was no longer frozen, hence the name service berry.

I hiked on the access road for about a mile when it intersected with a old railroad right of way. It has been almost a year since I hiked out here and some of trees near the intersection were cut down.

I usually follow the railroad right of way trail down a ridge to the Black Diamond section of the D & L Trail. It is about a 1 1/2 hike. As I began my hike on the trail I found that it was widened on the right side. It used to be narrow and I encountered a few bears hear feeding on the high bush blueberries that grew along the trail. Many of the berry bushes  were cut down and the trail looked different. 

The lush cinnamon or fiddlehead ferns still grew along the trail.

And, there were still a lot of common yellow throats fluttering in the woods along the trail, and singing their cheerful songs, This is the female,

and this the masked male. 

Nearby I saw this Canada warbler,

it took me over a half hour to get these photos of this pretty but elusive bird.

The trail continued down the ridge. There were some areas of tall grass growing on the trail and, like previous years,  there were a lot of ticks in the grass. I am glad I remembered this and applied as lot of insect repellent before my hike. I still pulled over a few ticks walking through the grass. The trail continued through some wetlands with some large pines growing along the right of way,

and eventually took  me along a fast flowing stream, one of the headwaters of the Nescopeck Creek.

The trail now entered a more mature forest, The sun was now shining and it’s rays filtered through the thick canopy of leaves. I enjoyed hiking under the tall, mature  trees.

Here I saw a few more birds including a black and white warbler,

and this scarlet tanager.

I also saw a few red efts the juvenile stage of the eastern newt. The red efts remain in this stage for about three years before entering the aquatic adult stage where they could live in a pond for 10 more years.

The trail ended at the Black Diamond section of the D & L trail and I hiked on this trail up toward Moosehead Lake. The sun was heating it up and temperatures rose into the mid 80’s.

The trail has large patches of milkweed plants and many were already blooming attracting eastern tiger swallowtail ,

and spicebush swallowtail butterflies.

I also saw this  garter snake crossing  the trail

as I neared Moosehead  Lake.  Here I found a wild cheery tree pulled down along the trail, another sign there are bears up here. Unfortunately I didn’t see one.

I stopped along the lake,

and large meadow, pond  and wetlands across the lake.  There are two large beaver dams in the pond. There is always a lot of wildlife activity up here.

I saw a yellow throated vireo

and a few catbirds in the woods near the lake.

I usually spend some time here, watching and photographing the many birds, butterflies, dragonflies and other insects near the lake and wetlands.

However, I still had a 3 1/2 mile hike back to my Jeep. So,  because of the heat and humidity, I wasn’t stopping on Sunday. I did take some photos of the the pond lilies,

and beautiful and delicate white water lilies on the pond.

And this, I believe a frosted whiteface dragonfly.

I continued on the trail and saw only two bikers braving the heat and humidity which at times took me through some shaded woodlands but also there were some areas I was walking in the  intense late morning sun.

I wasn’t stopping to take photos of birds now, but I did see and take a photo of this whitetail deer who looked like it was wondering why I was out in this heat.

I did see a few wildflowers along the trail including many common foxglove flowers, they are invasive but pretty.

There were also Deptford pink   and

viper bugloss flowers, both also invasive, blooming along the trail.

Only these daisy fleabane flowers were native.  Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the plants and mushrooms I saw on my hike. State Game Lands 119 plants June 23 2024. 

It was about a 3/4 mile hike to another abandoned railroad right of way that would take me back up the ridge and to the access road to the game lands.

The trail took me into another more mature woodland, and I was glad to be under the shade of the large trail.

 Here I saw a few wild mushrooms growing including this bolete mushroom . 

and a lot of ghost or Indian pipes.

I came to a small pond where I usually see some wood ducks and great blue herons but there was no wildlife activity on this hot day.

I hiked up through the forest and again entered the game lands.

In this more mature forest I heard and saw a few wood thrushes. I love there haunting songs.

I saw one more bird on my hike,  this northern flicker .Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website  with some more photos of the birds  I saw on my hike. State Game Lands 119  birds  June 23 2024.

I continued through the mature woodland and up the ridge. I was getting thirsty, I never bring water on my hikes, and I was more interested in getting back to my Jeep than taking photos, unless it was a bear or snake or something else really interesting.

I made it to the access road and had one more mile to walk in heat. It was now past noon and the temperature was near 90 degrees. And the last mile was mostly uphill.

It was tiring. I was glad when I saw my Jeep as  I finished my 7 mile hike.   There was water there and I was thirsty. It wasn’t an easy hike, but I did see a bear, some birds and wildflowers which I can share. It sure was more enjoyable  than hiking on a cold Winter day when there is no life to see.  No matter how hot I love hiking in the Summer heat. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website  with some more photos from  my hike. State Game Lands 119    June 23 2024

Midsummer noontide in a sky of brass:
The sun like flame licks at the blistered earth,
And shrivels up the blades of withering grass…
~John Gould Fletcher

This is my first post

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