Taking Out the Trash in Eastern PA

Hawk Rock Duncannon PA 2015-11-20

While hiking along the Appalachian Trail last Friday, I was surprised to see a dog on the trail with a guy clambering up the steep rocky slope below. I wasn’t sure what was going on so I was apprehensive as I approached. His pace quickened as I drew closer and he got back on the trail just in time to rein in the leash of his dog as I got within talking distance. His dog was friendly enough but he just wanted to be sure it was fully under control as I passed by. It’s refreshing to see someone taking the control of their dog seriously but it was truly surprising to see that his hands were full of trash and litter.

The Rock Slide Below Hawk RockI asked him if he went all of the way down there just to pick up some trash, and he said, “Yeah, that’s what I do.” As it turns out, I was talking to John Becker of “Taking Out the Trash in Eastern PA“. Mr. Becker was on a mission to hike the Susquehanna gap and hiking up to Hawk Rock was his last hike of the day. Even though the evening was fast approaching, he couldn’t just leave the trash on the ground tarnishing such a beautiful and unique view so he literally took the matter into his own hands. Out of all of the surprising things I’ve seen people do on the trail, this was one of the better ones.

John is determined to leave this world cleaner than the way he finds it. If you would like to help him achieve his goal, please check out “Taking Out the Trash” on GoFundMe. The world needs more people like him. Thanks for doing what you do Mr. Becker.

DOC October Night Hike – Where Have All the Little Brown Bats Gone?

DOC LogoThe Duncannon Outdoor Club had a nice night hike up Peter’s Mountain on Oct. 24th.  As we began our assent one could actually see all the flashing lights in Duncannon as the Halloween Parade marched down Market Street.  Once at the summit, on the southern side of the mountain, winds hit with a vengeance, so our discussion on Little Brown Bats was rather hasty.  It was good that we cut it short because we returned just as the rains came.


So what about Little Brown Bats?  Have you notice that during summer nights you no longer see bats flying around?  Did you know that their absence has caused a lot of concern?  One Little Brown Bat ate up to 3,000 mosquitoes and flying insects at night.  A colony of 100 Little Brown Bats in a Pennsylvania cave ate more than a quarter million mosquitoes and small insects a night.  Now the cave is empty.  Concerns about increased cases of mosquito born diseases like the West Nile Virus are real, since bats are the only major predators of night flying insects.

There are 9 kinds of bats living in Pennsylvania during the summer months.  The Little Brown Bat was the most common bat in PA.  Now it is one of the rarest with a 98% mortality rate due to the White Nose Syndrome (WNS).  A total of 5.7 million bats have died.   Many bats migrate south during the winter, but the Little Brown Bat enters a state of torpor in caves, tunnels, and mines.  The bats are declining rapidly because of WNS, a fungus that thrives in cold damp environments, were they overwinter.  It is believed that the fungus was brought over from Europe around 2006 on equipment and shoes of spelunkers.  With the Little Brown Bat producing only one pup per year, the lowest reproductive rate of any mammal its size, its future looks very dim.

The WNS exhibits itself as a white coating on the muzzle, ears and wings of the bats causing painful lesions.  The pain wakes the bats up, using important fat reserves.  Unfortunately the bats wake too early before there are any insects available.  They starve once their fat reserves have been utilized.

So what can be done?  The State Game Commission has gone into survivor management mode in an attempt to save the species.  A few bats have survived and it is hoped that their genes will provide immunity to WNS in their offspring.  People are urged to stay out of caves, tunnels and mines during times or torpor, and to assure that clothing and equipment are cleaned before entering such environments.  Building of bat houses provides a safer place for summer residence during breeding and enable one to keep a bat count.  Volunteer to take part in the Appalachian Bat Count during the summer.  Go to http:www.pgc.state.pa.us and use the search tool for “Appalachian Bat Count”.


DOC Nov. 21st Hike – Kittatinny Ridge and The Five Water Gaps

DOC LogoOn Sat., Nov. 21st learn about the Kittatinny Ridge and the 5 water gaps as we hike at Waggoner’s Gap View and watch the migration of raptors. Then we will hike a mile in and back for a total of 2 miles on the Tuscarora Trail at a leisurely pace. The terrain is VERY rocky so we will take our time. Call 395-2462 or email dtakach@duncannonatc.org to register. We will meet at the Duncannon Family Health Center to carpool at 9:00 am.

DOC Hike – Where Have All The Monarchs Gone?

The DOC hikers met on September 26th, Family Hiking Day, to learn about Monarchs and then head out for a hike.  Prior to the hike, they were given the opportunity to design their own backpack which came with a first aid kit.  Materials were provided by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and were greatly appreciated.  Items left over were handed out at the Little Buffalo Festival of the Arts where they were a great hit!

Also, prior to hitting the trails hikers learned about the Monarch Butterflies, why the butterflies are disappearing and what people could do to help.  Information presented to the group can be obtained at Where Have All the Monarchs Gone?

The DOC hikers headed up Hawk Rock for one of three options:  hike up and back, hike up along the ridge and to the blue trail and back on Reservoir Road, or hike up to the blue trail to the old furnace stack on Reservoir Road and back.  Most of the hikers chose option one, but we did have a few that took the last option to the furnace stack.  It was a beautiful day and the view was fantastic!  Thanks to Sean O. for leading the longer hike.

Information on the furnace stack can be found at The Duncannon Smoke Stack.

DOC Moon Light Hike – Where Have All The Little Brown Bats Gone?


Little Brown Bat

DOC Logo

On October 24th join the DOC for a moon lit hike up Peter’s Mountain.  The 4 mile hike will be on moderate to strenuous terrain at an average pace.  Learn about the Little Brown Bat and why 98% of them have expired in Pennsylvania and other states.  Bring headlamps or flashlights.  Meet at the Clarks Ferry AT parking lot (40.395767,-77.00871) at 6:30 pm.  Call 395-2462 or email dtakach@duncannonatc.org to register.


Where Have All The Monarchs Gone?


 DOC LogoWhere have all the Monarchs gone?  Join the Duncannon Outdoor Club on Family Hiking Day, Saturday, September 26th to find out the answer. This hike will offer three possible options. Option one is a hike up to Hawk Rock for 2 miles out and back on moderate to strenuous terrain, at an average pace. The second option will continue from the top of Hawk Rock on the ridge to the blue trail, back on reservoir road for a loop hike. This will be an 8 mile hike. If the group so chooses there is a third option of continuing from the blue trail on the reservoir road to the old furnace stack and back on Reservoir Road for a ten mile loop hike. Meet at 9:00am at the Hawk Rock AT Trailhead by Tubby’s Restaurant in Duncannon. To Register call 717-395-2462 or email dtakach@ducannonatc.org.

DOC Turtle Hike at Wildwood Park

DOC LogoOn August 15th, the Duncannon Outdoor Club lead an educational hike around the lake at Wildwood Park & Nature Center. Hike leader Deb Takach told us all about the local turtles and where we would most likely find them. It was an educational and pleasant day spent walking around a scenic environment with good people. All in all, it was a nice experience for friends, family, and outdoor enthusiasts. Be sure to join us for our next hike.

DATC at Duncannon’s National Night Out

The Duncannon Appalachian Trail Community was out showing our support for Duncannon’s 2015 National Night Out.

It was another great event put together by the Duncannon Parks and Recreation crew.

DATC Helps Clean Duncannon Town Square

The Duncannon Appalachian Trail Community volunteers were out helping clean Duncannon’s town square this past Saturday with other Duncannon residents and enthusiasts.

You can read more about it on This is Duncannon’s Facebook page.