Another Hike State Game Lands 119, And Still No Bears.
It is nearing the end of June and I still haven’t seen any bears in my backyard, in Hazle Township Luzerne County. It is the first time almost twenty years I haven’t had one or more visit my bird feeders. And, so far, I haven’t seen any bears my many hikes here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. So, on Sunday, I decided to hike in place I have seen more bears than anywhere else the State Game Lands 119 in Dennison Township, Luzerne County. Located about 20 miles from my home, the parking area for the Game Lands is about a mile out on an unpaved Hollenback Road near Penn Lake Borough.
It was partly sunny and a seasonably pleasant 63 degrees when I began my hike. I followed the main access road trough the mixed oak, maple and pine forest. The woodlands were lush with the new growth of Spring. There were no bears on this part of my hike but I did encounter a few hikers and bikers along the road.
I hiked the access road for about 3/4 of a mile until I reached an old railroad right-of -way.
As usual I followed this trail for about a 1 1/2 down to the D & L trail.
It is on this part of the trail I have seen a lot of bears on past hikes. One of the reasons is the abundance of both low bush blueberries, which are already ripening,
and high bush blueberries, that will ripen soon, along the trail.
There were no bears on Sunday but there were many birds active in the woods along the trail including this eastern peewee,
this white-breasted nuthatch and,
this common yellow throat warbler,
who had captured a caterpillar for brunch.
I also saw a few of these critters, the terrestrial phase of the red-spotted newt. crawling on the forest floor.
There was a lot of sheep laurel blooming along the trail,
and some late star grass flowers still in bloom.
It was mostly sunny, and getting warmer when I arrived at the Black Diamond portion of the D & L trail. There is more information on this trail in earlier blog posts that can be found in the archives on my website.
There were many wild flowers blooming on the trail. One of my favorite are the daisies.
There was also yellow salsify,
St. John’s wort. Booming flowers and attract insects and butterflies.
This was a swallowtail butterfly and
this a monarch butterfly I saw on my hike.
I followed the trail up to beautiful Moosehead Lake. It waters reflected the clear blue skies.
Here I watched a pair of nesting kingbirds.
They are large members of the flycatcher family and I watched this one capture a dragonfly.
And another gathered twigs and small branches as it started to build a nest.
On the other side of the trail from the lake is a large wetlands where I found some beautiful water lilies bloom.
After engaging in a conversation with a local biker about the history of the area I continued south on the trail for about two miles. Along the way I found more wildflowers in bloom including a large patch of foxglove flowers,
They probably escaped from some nearby old farm homesteads and had spread all along the trail.
They attracted many insects, especially bees which could be seen flying, and buzzing, from flower to flower.
Once again, I left the D & L trail just past a small lake and followed another abandoned railroad right-of way back Hollenback Road.
After passing the lake the trail enters some dense woodlands where I hoped I would finally see a bear,
There were no bears in the thick woodlands but I saw some more bird activity including this pretty Canada warbler,
And this female American redstart. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. State Game Lands 119 hike birds. June 20 2021.
I was glad I was walking under the shade of the many trees along the trail. The June sun raised the temperature and it got hot. As usual, I don’t bring water on my hikes.
As I neared the access road I was surprised, and at first delighted to see this chicken mushroom growing on a stump in the woods off of the trail. It is a delicious edible mushroom when young. However, upon closer inspection, I saw that it was to old to eat. I was surprised since these I usually don’t find these mushrooms until much later in the summer.
After finding the mushroom I hiked up to the access road,
and now had to walk another 3/4 mile in the hot June sun and back to the parking area, I was hot, tired, thirsty and hungry after my seven mile hike, but as always, I enjoyed it. The only thing that would have made it better was if I had seen a bear, They are out there, and I will be looking for them again this weekend. Here is a link to a gallery with more photos from my hike. State Game Lands 119 hike June 20 2021.
When the sun is shining I can do anything; no mountain is too high, no trouble too difficult to overcome. Wilma Rudolph