Exploring State Gamelands 119: No Bears But Beautiful Scenery And Some Other Wildlife
I have seen a couple of bears in the State Gamelands 119 in Dennison Township, Luzerne County the past few weekends. I always love to see these large animals in their natural environment. So I decided to return to this large tract of forest on the edge of the Pocono Mountains last Sunday. I know they are dangerous and I take precautions when hiking in bear country. I came too close to the bears on my prior encounters. We startled each other which is not a safe thing for me. I hoped to see, and photograph from a safer distance on this hike.
I drove the two miles of unimproved road from Penn Lake Borough and parked at the entrance to the gamelands. It had rained heavily overnight again. The leaves on the trees were wet and sparkled in the brilliant early morning sunlight as I began my walk on the unpaved old Hollenback Road. It was again like walking a forest from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth. It was so peaceful, only the singing of the birds intruding on the quiet of the forest.
The trail ended at the old railroad right of way that continued down the Black Diamond trail. I turned right and followed it to the east. A trail map showed it crossed the Pennsylvania Turnpike and continued on a large tract of woodlands on the other side. I wasn’t able to get there because of a small stream that was swollen from the recent rains.
There were a lot of birds singing in the woods.However, they were difficult to see and photograph in the thick vegetation. Only the friendly black-capped chickadees, year round residents in our area, hopped on branches close to the trail.
This week, instead of hiking down to the Black Diamond trail, I continued to follow the old Hollenback road. I knew from my hike last week it would eventually take me to Crystal lake. ‘I came to the headwaters of the Little Nescopeck Creek. This was the furthest I had come on this road before. Like all of the streams and creeks it was swollen from the heavy rains.
I was out about three miles when I noticed some large cumulus clouds in the distance. The forecast didn’t call for rain until the afternoon. I checked my iPhone and saw that there was a 60% chance of a thunderstorm at 11 a.m. It was 10 a.m. so I decided to head back. I was hoping to see a bear or two in the swamps near Crystal Lake but that would have to wait until another day
In the same tree was this black-and-white warbler. Unfortunately just as I was seeing a lot of different birds the skies opened up and it started to pour rain. I was only a half mile from my jeep now, far enough to get soaked. Thankfully, there were no thunderstorms. I love them but not when I am in the middle of the woods.
I saw one more bird on my walk , this eastern towhee. I was disappointed that I didn’t meet anymore bears on this hike but I hope to return soon. It is a wonderful place to hike, even in the rain. Here is a link to a gallery with more photographs from my hike. State Gamelands 119 hike June 2 2019.