It’s June And The Mountain Laurel Is In Bloom: A Couple Of Hikes In Weiser State Forest
Mountain Laurel is our state flower here in Pennsylvania. A walk through the woodlands of our State in mid June will show why. When the mountain laurel is in bloom the mountains are filled with color. Various shades of white and pink flowers are scattered throughout the forest. I hiked in the Weiser State Forest on Saturday morning hoping to see some of these beautiful flowers.
My first hike was not successful in my search for the mountain laurel. It began in the morning on the Roaring Creek Trail. I parked at the Route 42 entrance. This 8 mile well maintained and busy trail follows the Roaring Creek making it way down from the Catawissa Mountain on its way to the Susquehanna River. There are three reservoirs along the creek. The first reservoir is next to the parking lot. Canoeing and kayaking are allowed on this lake and there were a few folks partaking of these activities on this sunny, cool June morning.
There were a lot of people on the trail and that is not a good thing for seeing wildlife. So, when I came to a side trail leading into the forest I followed it. It took me to a bridge that crossed the Roaring Creek.
The trail continued to follow the creek as it flowed through the forest and I decided to follow it. Again I heard the songs of many birds in the trees but they were difficult to see and even harder to photograph. I was able to photograph this fellow, a type of flycatcher I think.
Amianthium or fly poison could also be seen growing around the wooded trail. The name of the plant comes from its use by early American settlers to kill flies. The poisonous bulb was mixed with sugar and used for that purpose.
It was now around 10 a.m. and I had to head back to attend my nephew Mikey’s State Trap Shoot Competition in nearby Elysburg . So I headed back to the main trail seeing this hairy woodpecker on the way. I was disappointed to not find any mountain laurel growing on this trail.
I spent about an 1 1/2 at my nephew’s shoot. He is a senior at the Hazleton Area High School and this was his last shoot as a student. He did qualify for the US Olympic Bunker Trap Shooting Competition. He is attending this event with his proud parents as I type this blog post. Congratulations Mikey!!!
The trail ended near a couple of ponds that were created from the strip coal mining that took place in this area. Like many of this ponds near my home they have become the home for a variety of wildlife. I saw a number of frogs jump into the pond. And there were dozens of dragonflies darting and hovering around the ponds.
I walked another three miles under the intense June sun. I didn’t see any more birds or wildlife but I enjoyed the beauty of the mountain laurel. I love hiking in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania all year-long but my favorite hikes are in June when the mountain laurel is in bloom. This is a link to a gallery with some more photographs from my hikes. Weiser State Forest hikes June 8 2019
My bonnie flower, with truest joy
Thy welcome face I see,
The world grows brighter to my eyes,
And summer comes with thee.
My solitude now finds a friend,
And after each hard day,
I in my mountain garden walk,
To rest, or sing, or pray.
All down the rocky slope is spread
Thy veil of rosy snow,
And in the valley by the brook,
Thy deeper blossoms grow.
The barren wilderness grows fair,
Such beauty dost thou give;
And human eyes and Nature’s heart
Rejoice that thou dost live.
Each year I wait thy coming, dear,
Each year I love thee more,
For life grows hard, and much I need
Thy honey for my store.
So, like a hungry bee, I sip
Sweet lessons from thy cup,
And sitting at a flower’s feet,
My soul learns to look up.
No laurels shall I ever win,
No splendid blossoms bear,
But gratefully receive and use
God’s blessed sun and air;
And, blooming where my lot is cast,
Grow happy and content,
Making some barren spot more fair,
For a humble life well spent.