Ice On The Mountain. A Magical Hike on The Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails
We had an ice storm here in Northeastern Pennsylvania last Friday. Well, some of us did. It depended on your elevation. My home in the Green Ridge section of Hazle Township, Luzerne County is located atop a ridge. The elevation above sea level is about 1680 feet. There was as lot of ice on the trees in my back yard. On Saturday I drove to the Susquehanna Wetlands in Salem Township about 15 miles from my home as the crow flies. There was very little ice. Why? The elevation at the wetlands is around 600 feet. This 1000 feet difference resulted in warmer air temperatures and very little ice as can be seen in my previous blog post.
Well the ice was still on our mountain top on Sunday. It was in my back yard anyway It was a clear and calm 4 degrees when I decided to drive to our local Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails to see how the ice storm affected the trail located about 3 miles from my home. I was so glad I did. When I arrived I found a winter wonderland.
It was like a scene from Dr. Zhivago, one of my favorite movies. It was sunny and very cold even though the temperature had risen to 7 degrees at the trail head. The trail was icy and snow covered. However, the ice on the surface was thick enough to support my weight. This was good news. I was worried I would again have to trudge through the six inches of snow on the ground. A thin layer of new snow that fell after the ice storm made the trail somewhat easy to hike. Well, except for the many birch trees that blocked the trail They were bent over from the heavy layer of ice that coated their branches.
It was a pretty scene from the start of my walk. However, it became even more beautiful, almost magical, when, after a 1/4 mile, the trail turned to the south and east. The rising sun illuminated the ice covered tree creating a dazzling effect in the brilliant morning sunshine.
I am not a big Winter fan, but this was Winter at it’s finest. Photographs could not capture the beauty of this scene. This video I uploaded to my YouTube channel captures the scene better then my descriptions or photos. Here is the link. https://youtube.com/shorts/bTpEMcPYXRI?feature=share
After a mile or so, the trail crosses a highway and then continues on the old railroad right of way that is also used as a secondary access to the Dreck Creek Reservoir by the local water authority. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs of the beautiful icy scenery on the first part of my hike. Rails to Trails hike part one February 6 2022.
but enough to still create amazing scenes as the ice on the tree branches reflected the brilliant rays of the morning sun. Here is a link to another video. https://youtube.com/shorts/usoSs3G4S48?feature=share
After about a 1/4 the trail once again began a slow climb over a ridge and once again there was more ice on the trees and I found many birch trees bent over from the weight of the ice. Even a subtle change in elevation can have a dramatic affect on the amount of ice that forms during the storm.
I was cold, my finger and toes were frozen even under my gloves and thick woolen socks. But enduring the cold was worth experiencing the beauty of effects of the ice storm on our mountain top. Although I am not a fan of Winter it does have it’s moment, and this ice storm was one of them. Here is a link to a gallery with more photos from my hike in the winter wonderland created by the ice storm. Rails to Trails part two February 6 2022.