Snow And Ice And A Change Of Plans At The Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails

Snow And Ice And A Change Of Plans At The Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails

Rails to Trails (41 of 42)
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Followers of my blog and social media post will know I am not a big fan of  the cold, snow or ice anymore.  Winter is definitely my least favorite season, However, I am not a bear and I do not hibernate for three months. I try to make the best of  the cold and dark months and continue my hikes throughout the winter. I don’t like the  frigid cold temperatures but I can deal with them. It is the snow and ice I dread.  Frozen precipitation makes walking difficult and dangerous.   We had    around  4 or 5 inches of snow this past week so I knew hiking would not be fun,  On Sunday morning I decided to stay close to home and hike on the local Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails. 

I drove to the eastern entrance  of the trail since it is more remote and I felt I would have a better chance to see some wildlife. It was cloudy and a seasonably cold 18 degrees when I  arrived at the parking area .  I started my hike on the snow covered trail following the path made by another person who braved the cold  January weather.  He or she trudged through the snow for about  a 1/2 mile. 

I think I know why they decided to end their hike. When their tracks in the snow ended it was now up to me to trudge through the snow and create a path. I soon discovered it wasn’t only the snow I was trudging through. During the storm some freezing rain  also fell and it created a layer of ice atop the snow.

So with every step I took I broke trough a layer of ice and sunk into the snow below. It was  tedious and exhausting. So after about another 1/4 mile I was about to give up my efforts to forge a new path on the trail. I wanted to get in a five mile hike and I knew I  was not going to be able to do it out here. 

Just when I was about to give up and hike back to my Jeep  I came across  a set of tire tracks that  crossed over  the trail.  I wasn’t sure, but I  guessed they were  made  by a electric utility company truck. Instead of continuing on  the trail or hiking back to my Jeep  , I decided to follow the path of the tire tracks through the snow. 

Although hiking  on the path made by the tire tracks was much easier than trudging through the unbroken ice coated snow, it still wasn’t easy and took much more effort than walking on a snowless trail.

The weak January sun tried to shine through the clouds cover  as I walked through the snow covered  woodlands.

I followed the track through some abandoned anthracite coal strip mining areas. I had hiked here may times in the warmer months looking for blueberries and mushrooms. 

The tracks led me to the active railroad right of way. This was once the  site of a small  village of Lumberton and later the Lehigh Valley Railroad Ashmore yards facility. 

The  only contrast from the white snow covered woodlands were the  frozen leaves of the State flower, the mountain laurel,

and it’s smaller cousin the sheep laurel that  were curled from the cold.

The pine trees also provided some green contrast to the white world of snow. 

As did the dried  grasses that  remained along the path.

The tire track trail  followed the railroad tracks for a short distance and I walked past the ruins of an old abandoned stone railroad structure. I  am not sure what purpose it served. 

The tracks left the railroad tracks and followed a electric pole line up a steep hill.

I was surprised the driver of the vehicle was able to make it up the steep ice and snow covered hill. I know I had a hard time making the climb in the even following the trail through the snow. 

I saw and heard very little wildlife activity as I continued my walk. I heard a few crows, and saw a small flock of black capped chickadees and dark eyed juncos on my hike but none came close enough to allow me to get any photos I did see some animal tracks left in the snow. I think this is a grouse, 

and unfortunately nearby were these coyote tracks. The coyote may have made  a meal out of the grouse. 

I wasn’t sure where the trail was takin me. I had never hiked on this pole line before. So  I was surprised when I  came to the Rails to Trails. I immediately knew where  i was having waked past this pole line hundreds of times. I often wondered where it went and now I knew.  

There were no footprints on the Rail to Trails path and I wasn’t going to be the first.  The tracks I were following continued on to a larger electric power line but i was out about 2 1/2 miles and decided to start my hike back.

At least it was mostly downhill.

There was no wildlife activity on my walk back, not a bird or critter was stirring on the cold, cloudy and somber January morning. And there were no fellow humans on the trails either. I was  tired when I finished my five mile hike. I was glad I found the tire tracks. I could have never did a five mile hike on the unbroken snow and ice on the trail.  Even without seeing any wildlife it was still nice to enjoy the peace and quiet of the snow covered woodlands. I just hope some younger folks decide to make a path through the snow on the trail before my next hike out here. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my hike in the snow and ice. Rails to Trails January 23 2022. 

“Snow brings a special quality with it—the power to stop life as you know it dead in its tracks.” Nancy Hatch Woodward 


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