Exploring State Gamelands 119: No Bears But Beautiful Scenery And Some Other Wildlife

Exploring State Gamelands 119: No Bears But Beautiful Scenery And Some Other Wildlife

State gamelands 119 (8 of 47)
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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. entrance to gamelands

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. lush woodlands

I walked out about a half mile and again turned on  to the trail that entered a heath barren.  There were clumps of yellow star grass growing along the trail. star grass on trail

As well as many species of ferns.ferns along trail

Dwarf ginseng could also be seen growing in the woods along the trail. dwarf ginseng on trail

Last week I only walked in a few hundred yards. This time I continued to follow through the heath barren. There were some large pitch pines and oaks towering over the low-lying heath plants. tree in heath barren trail

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. trail in gamelands

I turned back and followed the railroad right of way back to the Hollenback Road trail.  Along the way I saw a couple of cedar waxwings.cedar waxwing

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. black-capped chickadee in tree

I also saw this deer crossing the trail.deer on trail

A few robins were also chirping  in the treetops. robin on tree branch

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.Little Nescopeck Creek  trail over Little Nescopeck Creek

I saw a few red-eyed vireos in the trees, and was able to capture this one having a grub for breakfast.red-eyed vireo eating grub

The sheep laurel, a sure sign that Spring is coming to an end, was now in bloom along the trails. sheep laurel

And fluttering above the sheep laurel where these tiny but pretty birds, the common yellowthroat. common yellowthroat

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 trail in gamelands

I walked back briskly as I saw the clouds thicken. I noticed a few red efts walking along the trail with me.red eft on trail

When I neared  the old railroad right of way the skies again cleared. So I decided to walk into the swamp where I saw another couple of bears last week. 

There were no bears in the swamp but I did get to see this beautiful bird, a scarlet tanager in the treetops. I love how this brilliant red birds stands out in  the lush green leaves. scarlet tanager

There were also a lot of dragonflies in the wetlands along the trail. 

The skies again clouded up and threatened rain. I again headed back to my jeep. On the way I saw this chestnut-sided warbler in the treetops. chestnut sided warbler

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. black -white warbler

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.

Spring being a tough act to follow, God created JuneAl Bernstein

 

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