Ice And Snow At The Lehigh Gorge

Ice And Snow At The Lehigh Gorge

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It was the last day in January and we finally got seasonably cold weather,  with some ice and snow,  here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. It was cloudy and cold on Sunday morning. with predictions of a major snowfall, when I  decided to venture back down into the Lehigh River  Gorge at Rockport. 

A few years ago I drove down the step hill to the parking area along the trail in January.  And  couldn’t make it back up!  The road is not maintained in the Winter and I didn’t realize the ice on the road until my Jeep almost plummeted into the Lehigh River. There was no cell phone service in the Gorge at that time and a friend contacted a Park Ranger through Facebook. I was told they couldn’t cinder the road and I’d have to walk up, leaving my Jeep in the parking lot. I hiked up the icy trail and waited for my brother Mike to pick me up. 

Well, I learned my lesson and  on Sunday I parked in the upper lot and hiked down the steep road to the parking lot. On  the way down the steep incline, on my right, I passed this reminder of our anthracite coal heritage, an old tunnel that was built by the Buck Mountain Coal Company 180 years ago. There are a few blog post on the history of the old Lehigh Canal and they can be found in the archives search on my blog web page.  

On the left side of the road the swift waters of Laurel Run flowed. The cold weather has even caused ice to start to  form on these swifts flowing waters.

There were no cars in the parking lot as I began my hike east on the trail. I was watching the weather carefully since the snow was predicated to start during the morning hours. 

Walking along the massive cliffs along the trail I immediately noticed the  accumulation of more ice formations since my visit a week earlier. 

Ice columns and icicles cascaded down the cliffs. 

I  walked out to Buttermilk Falls  again and enjoyed the sound of the water flowing over the cliffs. Ice was also beginning to form on these falls too. 

As I did the last two weeks I returned to the parking area to follow the trail south and west. This time, for the first time in three  five hikes,  I actually saw some wildlife. A flock of black-capped chickadees fluttered in the pines and rhododendrons along the trail, and, I was even able to photograph one. It wasn’t a very good photo. I am surprised how little wildlife there is in the gorge. On this hike I also saw a crow fly off in the distance. 

The trail neared the Lehigh River, which  now had more ice on it, and, 

as it was the last two  hikes, the trail to the south was covered with more ice and snow, the the trail to the north, which was more exposed to the sun. Still there was only about an ice of snow on the ground when I started my hike. 

I again walked past Luke’s Falls, stopping to enjoy the calming sound of the rushing waters. 

A steady snow began to fall as I continued my hike. It was peaceful walking on the trail, along the many rhododendron groves ,  with leaves curled from the cold, and under the pine and hemlock trees, as  the snow flakes gently fell to the ground. 

On the hillsides and rocky outcrops along the trail  I now found many new  icicles,

ice columns,

and ice formations. Still, they were not nearly as many as there are in most Winters. However, more frigid air is forecast so i am sure they will be even more spectacular on my next hike. 

The snow increased in intensity but I was determined to get my five mile hike in.

Once again I hiked  out to near the point where the Drake Creek enters the river on the opposite side  of the trail, about two miles from the lower  parking lot. It was very peaceful in the gorge as the snow slowly fell to the ground. 

The snow continued on my return hike and about an inch had accumulated  by the time I made it back to the lower  parking lot.  Here I found a few brave folks all with four wheel drive vehicles, enjoying the snowfall in the gorge. 

The hike up the steep hill to my car was a little more difficult, now  that the road was covered in the new snow. But I made it and was glad I was able to drive out of the gorge this time. . Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike in the ice and snow at the Lehigh Gorge. Lehigh River Gorge Rockport January 31 2021.

Is not January alone pure winter? December belongs to the fall—is a wintery November—February to the spring—it is a snowy March.—Journal, 9 February 1854  Henry David Thoreau 





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