It’s Been A Long Time, An Overdue Visit To Beltzville State Park.
While on my hike in the Susquehanna Wetlands on Saturday, I met a nature photographer friend who told me about seeing a lot of ducks in Beltzville State Park in Carbon County. I also have heard reports of of bald eagles sightings there too. Although Beltzville State Park is the same distance from my home in Hazle Township as is the wetlands I have never hiked there. In fact, the only time I was ever there was when I was waterskiing and that was when I was in high school and college, a very long time ago.
I don’t know why. Maybe it was the stories of h9w crowded it is in the Summer kept me away. And I didn’t think there were many hiking trails there. Well, after chatting about his sightings of lesser scaups, golden eye ducks and hooded mergansers with my friend I decided to visit on Sunday. Clouds shrouded the sun when I arrived at the lake. It was a seasonably cold 26 degrees. I was the only one at the parking lot near the beach.
As I was photographing the sparrows I saw a flock of ducks I couldn’t identify fly overhead. They were followed by a few more flocks, including this flock of common mergansers which landed near the dam that created the lake. I decided to try and hike to the crest of the dam.
I continued along the shire and on an inlet on the lake. Here I walked under a grove of large hemlock and white pine trees. These large trees were around 50 years old. I guessed this since they were probably planted after the dam was built on the waters of the Pohopoco Creek creating the lake. This was around 1972.
At first I thought these were Christmas ferns which I have seen before. On closer inspection they looked different and my Picture This plant identification iPhone app identified it a a marginal wood fern. There were a lot of these in the pine and hemlock woods. Both these ferns remain green throughout the Winter.
I was following the shoreline of the lake, trying to get to the crest of dam but I came to this gate and sign. I turned back not wanting to trespass. As I was walking back I encountered a local gentleman walking his dogs. He told me the gate was only for motor vehicles and it was okay to walk to the dam. . I met a few more friendly locals who all told me the same thing. As we chatted they all told me how it is so different in the Summer when the crowds arrive. After my friendly chats, I continued on toward the dam. .
As I did, this northern raven, they are larger than crows, flew overhead, carrying some twigs. I never knew these large intelligent birds mate and nest this early in Spring. There were quite a few ravens around the lake.
The dam was further then I had thought. I had walked out around 2 1/2 miles and I had what looked about another half mile to the dam. I decided to head back. I took a different route, an access road, and came to this trail, one of many, I learned are near the lake.
I followed it for a short distance and saw a large flock of white breasted nuthatches high in the tree tops. They must have been just passing through since they are usually solitary and found near the ground scampering up and down the trunks of trees.
There were also many black-capped chickadees, but they remained high in the tree tops. I also saw a few white-throated sparrows which also eluded my camera. I did see this downy woodpecker which was close enough to photograph.
and, a good omen, I thought at the time, a bald eagle flying in the distance. I hoped it meant a Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl victory. It didn’t they lost in a close game. Next year we will be back.
Okay, back to my hike, I walked along the lake and saw a covered bridge. I learned it was the Harrity Covered Bridge. It was one of only two covered bridges in Carbon County. It was built in 1842 and spanned Pohopoco Creek. It was moved here from here another location along the creek when the dam was built.
and some more ravens in the treetops. Here is a link to a gallery on my website with more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. Beltzville State Park birds February 12 2023.
I walked back to the beach and reflected on my carefree days water skiing here as a young man almost a half century ago. Those carefree Summer days of long ago seemed like they were yesterday. it’s been a long time since I saw this lake but I hope to return and explore it’s many trails very soon. But not on water skis. I have to admit my waterskiing days have been over for a long time. Time passes so quickly. . Here is a link to a gallery with more photos from my hike in Beltzville State Park. Beltzville State Park February 12 2023.
“In the wink of an eye, all quaint days of the past, the present, and future will meld together into the bottomless unknown of perpetuity. Only trace evidence of our invertebrate existence will anoint future generations. In the crinkle of time, our houses will crumble apart. Companies that we worked for will go out of business or merge with other nameless conglomerates. What will survive us are our children and our words.”