Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails: A Solitary, And Frigid, March Hike.

Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails: A Solitary, And Frigid, March Hike.

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As predicted, it was another frigid morning here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. A calm and sunny  eleven degrees when I woke up, an hour later than usual because of Daylight Saving Time. I planned on a shorter hike today, because of the cold and snow, and the long hike I took yesterday. So I decided to stay close to home and hike out our local Rails to Trails. Rails to Trails -3

I arrived to find the parking lot empty. Usually,  even on the coldest of days, there are some hardy folks walking the trail. Not today. I could tell there were a lot of folks out yesterday, from the tracks on the trail but not a person today.Rails to Trails -4

I walked the trail, following an  old railroad right of way, eastward, through the mixed forest of pine, oak and maple trees, in the cold morning air. Thankfully, there was not much of a wind, like there was yesterday. Rails to Trails -7

The snow was not too deep, about 4 to 6 inches, but still deep enough to make walking difficult as I made my way to the second prong of the trail, about a mile out. Rails to Trails -16

As I crossed the highway that separates the trail, I found only one set of footprints in the snow, and they soon ended making me the first person to hike out here since the recent snowfall. Rails to Trails -17

And I say person, since like yesterday, there was plenty of evidence that there were animals roaming in the surrounding woods, occasionally crossing the trail. These are one of many deer tracks that crisscrossed the trail.Rails to Trails -20

And there were other tracks too,  these, I think are a coyote, probably trailing the deer.  I followed them for almost a mile, re-enacting the activities of the coyote as it walked in and out of the woods, searching for a meal. Here, it appears to have found something worth investigating under the snow, probably a vole, mouse or other rodent.Rails to Trails -33

There were few birds or animals to be seen in the frigid air but I did see a few Canada geese on the ice free waters of the Dreck Creek reservoir.Rails to Trails -31

And more signs of some other critters still live in these woods, like this hole which was carved out of the tree by a woodpecker.Rails to Trails -8

I walked on, past the picnic area near the Dreck Creek Reservoir dam and found the snow angel made by either either a  snow and cold   loving,  or, possibly, a crazy person. Hmmm,  I wonder who that could be? Rails to Trails -37

I was going to turn around at the 3 mile mark on the trail, but, I heard, and then saw, a red tailed hawk fly overhead, to fast for me to get a photograph. Rails to Trails -41

I walked a few hundred more yards, in hopes of seeing the hawk, but with no luck. It looked like it was headed to these hills in the distance. If there was no snow on the ground and the temperatures warmer I may have hiked on to try and find it. But I was cold and tired so decided, reluctantly, to head back. Rails to Trails -44

Along the way back  the only living thing I encountered were a few dark eyed juncos hopping on the ground and fluttering in the shrubs as I passed. Rails to Trails -45

I continued my  peaceful and solitary hike back, and didn’t encounter one person on the trail , until, as  I neared the parking area,  I saw one brave sole running through the icy and snow covered trails. Rails to Trails -50

And I finally saw some animals, these  two bears, but, unfortunately, they weren’t real. Rails to Trails -1

I also  saw this sure sign of Spring, which I spotted when I started my hike, a pussy willow shrub beginning to bud.  It may be cold, and we have another big snow storm in our forecast, but there is reason to hope, Spring is only a week away, and it will arrive on time, it always does. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike today. to Trails -6



“There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” — Sir Rannulph Fiennes

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