Back To Winter: A Frigid Hike Out To The Penrose Reservoir

Back To Winter: A Frigid Hike Out To The Penrose Reservoir

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There are  only a few days until Spring arrives , but, after months  of above average weather,  Winter has returned with a vengeance to Northeastern Pennsylvania.  We had  almost a half a foot of snow yesterday and some of the coldest temperatures of the season here this morning. Not good walking conditions, especially in March. . I decided to head  to the Lehigh River Gorge, where I hoped I would be sheltered from the  arctic winds, and I could hike through the snow  on the  trails left by the snowmobiles.Penrose reservoir -54

 However, as I drove through the Borough of Weatherly I thought of the Penrose Reservoir.  and  I decided to see if any water birds have returned to the area.  I have hiked here often, and have seen herons, ducks, geese and an American Bittern on the reservoir. I was hoping that, despite the arctic cold, the warm weather of the past few weeks would have brought some of them back early. So I began my hike to the reservoir on the railroad tracks in Weatherly.Penrose reservoir -3

The newly fallen snow was dry and powdery so it was a little easier hiking  than I had anticipated.Penrose reservoir -6

It was cold  but the snow made for some nice scenes, covering the rocks and trees along the rails. Penrose reservoir -2

I didn’t see and birds or other animals along the tracks but, they were there, as could be seen from the tracks they left behind in the snow, icluding these deer tracks. Penrose reservoir -8

I walked upward through the snow covered trees along the Black Creek which flow along the railroad  tracks follow and came to the bridge over the creek at the old Hazle Creek  railroad junction Penrose reservoir -25


This junction is where the Beaver Meadows, Buck Mountain and  Hazleton (later to become the Lehigh) railroads met and played a significant role in the local coal mining history. There are a few of my  posts, which can be found in the archives section of my blog, about this history. Penrose reservoir -24

It is about two miles to Hazle Junction and another half mile to the reservoir. I was surprised to find the reservoir was mostly ice free. I thought that. despite the warm weather we have had, there would still be some thick ice in the center of the reservoir. Not this year. I was  disappointed that there were no birds on the open waters. I really thought their at least would be some Canada geese and mallard ducks on the water. Penrose reservoir -28

It was mostly cloudy when I began my walk but the sun began to break through the clouds and reflect off the snow. and the new ice forming on the northern  side of the reservoir. Penrose reservoir -29

It was cold and I was tired from trudging through the snow so I decided to walk back. However, the discovery of what, I believed were fresh  coyote tracks, had me following them along the old Buck Mountain railroad right of way., hoping to find the animal that made them. Penrose reservoir -39

I walked along the old railroad right of way, which passed through a thick growth of rhododendrons, which covered in the new snow reminded me of a scene from Dr. Zhivago. Penrose reservoir -40

I have seen many animals in this area over the past few years, including deer, many birds and a few bear. Not today. Nothing was moving in this cold, except a dumb old guy. Penrose reservoir -42

I  followed the coyote  tracks into this wetlands, where again I have seen many mallard ducks nest in the spring. But nothing. Penrose reservoir -45

And this pond, which one year a Canada goose found to be a good place to build a nest pretty much out in the open, was covered in ice and not a critter of any type was stirring in the cold. Penrose reservoir -44

I made my way back out to the railroad tracks. , getting a neck and back full of snow as I walked through and under the thick growth of hemlock trees and rhododendrons.Penrose reservoir -46

The  strong mid March sun was now out, melting the top layer of the snow and making walking even more difficult. But it’s warmth sure felt good. Penrose reservoir -36

I returned to my car parked in the rustic town of Weatherly, tired, cold and without seeing any wildlife, but still very glad to have enjoyed another day, be it a snowy and frigid one, in the great outdoors of Northeastern Pennsylvania. I am looking forward to more mild walks as Spring approaches but it won’t be for at least a week.  And as I neared my car I saw this critter, who I am sure agrees with me. More arctic weather and a possible snowstorm headed our way. But Spring will return, and it will be welcomed. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike.

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There’s just something beautiful about walking in snow that nobody else has walked on. It makes you believe you’re special.   Carol Rifka Brunt