Duncannon Outdoor Club Hike at Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Theme Lyme Disease

DOC LogoOn Sat., Dec. 17th join the Duncannon Outdoor Club (DOC) at Pine Grove Furnace State Park for a 7 mile, average paced, loop hike on moderate terrain to Pole Steeple.  This hike will include one climb that rises 500 ft. for three-quarters of a mile.  If there is snow on the mountain tops wear micro spikes or Yak Tracks if you have them.  We will be learning about Lyme Disease and how to prevent it.  Meet 8:30 am. at the Duncannon Holy Spirit Center, a Geisinger Affiliate (formally the Duncannon Family Health Center) to carpool or alternately meet at the furnace stack parking lot at Pine Grove Furnace State Park around 9:30 am.  Wear something orange for the hunting season.   Please reimburse drivers 10 cents a mile.  Call Deb at 395-2462 or email dtakach@duncannonatc.org to register.

Duncannon Winterfest 2016

We had a blast at Winterfest last night in Duncannon, PA! It was a nice little get-together at the Clark’s Ferry Tavern located at 600 North Market Street with about 12 different community groups, a campfire, some festive holiday yard decorations, Santa Claus, a Christmas tree, a DJ, and a few hundred happy people enjoying a night together in an average little American town.

DATC Reindeer Ornament

The Duncannon Appalachian Trail Community set up a table near the campfire (of course) with our informational brochures, T-shirts, AT postcards made by Susquenita Middle School students, cookies, snacks, apple cider, and our most popular item of the night, reindeer crafts for the kids! Thanks to the hard work and generosity of DATC member Deb Takach, we helped Duncannon children assemble 50 cardboard tube reindeer tree ornaments. That’s 100 googly eyes, 200 pipe cleaner pieces, 50 yarn scarves, and 101 holes poked! That one extra hole went into my finger, (I shouldn’t be allowed to play with scissors). Unfortunately, we ran out of reindeer in the first hour but we had plenty of free goodies to hand out to the kids and their parents thanks to DATC members Patrick W. and Robyn S.

Patrick made delightful cookies with currants, nuts, and a coffee glaze; and Robyn made tasty treats combining pretzels, chocolate, and candies. Paul S. manned the free cider station while spreading the word about all of the good work the DATC does and fielding questions about trees, bugs, and wildlife. Me? I just tried not to bleed on the reindeer as I poked the holes for their little pipe cleaner antlers.

Special thanks to The Duncannon Parks and Recreation Committee and all of the other volunteers who came together to arrange such a pleasant event.

DOC Poison Ivy, Poison Oak and Poison Sumac

We had a good turnout for the August, out and back hike from Scott’s Farm to Sherwood Drive and were fortunate enough to have some very energetic youngsters.  Toward the half way mark though they started to show signs of fatigue, until it was suggested that they lead the hike back. Boy!  Did we ever see a revitalization in energy!  It was hard to keep up.

img_0994The theme for the event was poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac.  We observed poison ivy, but were neither able to locate poison oak nor poison sumac.

Poison sumac was not evident, because It is found in wet marshy areas, and we were not in a wet habitat. Poison oak does not grow in PA. People mistake poison ivy for poison oak, which grows in states south of PA, so we addressed the topics of poison ivy and poison sumac.

We discussed the three forms of poison ivy and identified each.  Poison ivy can be found growing low to the ground, as a shrub, or as a hairy vine.  Vines can grow up a tree, overtake the tree crown and kill it.  To the untrained eye the dead tree will look alive and healthy when the crown is 100% poison ivy!

Remember, “Leaves of three, let it be!”  A berry plant, like blackberry or raspberry, also  has three leaves, however the thorny stems are a dead give away that it is not poisonous.  Poison ivy leaves of three consist of a stem with  a larger leaf at the end and two smaller leaves shooting off the sides.  The leaves have pointed tips and can be notched or smooth on  the edges.  The plant will have different appearances depending upon the season. Leaves are reddish in spring, green in summer and a yellow/orange in the fall.

Poison Ivy BerriesPoison ivy berries are a good source of food for many animals.  Birds will eat the berries and spread the seeds through defecation; one reason you may have a problem with poison ivy under your bird feeders.  Poison ivy berries are greenish-white and can be seen through the spring and summer.

One cannot discuss poison ivy with out mentioning the antidote, jewel weed.  Touch Me Not is another name for this plant, because the seeds explode out of the pod when touched.  If the leaves and stem of jewel weed are crushed and the juices rubbed on your skin, you will not get poison.  The juices counteract the poison in poison ivy.  Jewel weed flowers can be orange, yellow or spotted and hang from the plant like a jewel on a necklace.

Poison Sumac is often confused with smooth sumac, staghorn sumac and tree of heaven.

Poison sumac will be found in a wet marshy area while non-poisonous sumac (staghorn and smooth sumac being the most common), and tree of heaven live in poor soil and drier habitats. The leaves of poison sumac are compound, oval,  elongated, and smooth-edged, usually 2-4 inches long. The stems are generally red with 7-13 leaves in pairs.  Leaves are bright orange in spring, dark green in summer and red-orange in the fall.  In comparison, the leaves of non-poisonous sumac are serrated and the leaves of the tree of heaven have a noticeable notch on the lower pairs of leaves at the base.  Staghorn sumac branches are also covered with a soft fuzz like the velvet on a stag’s antlers.

Fruits from each of the aforementioned species also provide a means  for identification.  Poison sumac has white or grayish berries while staghorn sumac has small round, hairy berries in a cone shape.  “White mean’s fright, red delight!”, is a saying that helps you remember which plants to stay away from.  Why a delight for the staghorn sumac?  Those red berries are edible and make a delicious drink when soaked in cold water and the hairs are strained out of the liquid.  Add water and honey to taste.

The tree of heaven has samaras which are winged seeds found only in the female tree of heaven and are easy to differentiate from the poison and non-poisonous sumac berries.

Now you can venture into the out of doors with a clear knowledge of the most common poisonous plants to avoid in Pennsylvania.  Oh, by the way.  Do not touch those hairy poison ivy vines even in the winter or you may develop a case of poison ivy!  If you burn poison ivy or poison sumac do not breath in the smoke or let it touch your skin or you may be very sorry!!

Buy Hawk Rock T-Shirts!

Line of people waiting to buy Hawk Rock T-shirts at the DATC vendor booth.

Many people told us they wanted to buy a super awesome “I hiked to Hawk Rock” shirt but they couldn’t come to Hawk Rock to buy one in person. That’s why we’re currently accepting orders for more shirts via email until Wednesday November 23rd. Shirts ordered before November 23rd will be available for pickup at The Doyle Hotel starting Saturday, December 3rd. And to show our appreciation for The Doyle’s cooperation, the DATC will donate one dollar to The Doyle for every shirt you buy!

These high performance orange shirts are soft to the touch, 100% polyester, jersey knit, Aqua FX ® (for wicking properties), Freshcare ® (for anti-microbial properties), and darn good looking too. Long sleeves are $20 and short sleeves are $15 (2XL and 3XL are $3 more).

You can also order our green short sleeve DATC logo shirts for only $10. They’re 50/50 Poly/Cotton and come in sizes S, M, L, XL, 3XL, and 4XL (3XL and 4XL are $2 more – 2XL are sold out).

Send an email to shirts@duncannonatc.org before November 23rd and your order will be ready for pickup at The Doyle on December 3rd. Be sure to specify quantity, color (orange or green), sleeve length, and size when ordering.

We look forward to hearing from you. You’re going to look great in these shirts!

Tips for Preparing for a Successful Day Hike

Hikers walking through the woods of PennsylvaniaWe are fortunate to live in an area that offers many different opportunities for a day hike. We have the Appalachian Trail which can be accessed from several different trail heads, Fort Hunter Conservancy, Boyd Big Tree Preserve Conservation Area, Joseph E. Ibberson Conservation Area, and Little Buffalo State Park, just to name a few.

Regardless of which area you select for a hike, a successful day hike depends on taking the time to be prepared. Anytime you step on a trail, you should be prepared with the basics, which includes: appropriate clothing, footwear, food, and equipment.

Clothing should protect you from the cold and the rain. In summer time temperatures can be cooler at higher elevations. Avoid cotton clothes which will retain moisture and opt for synthetic fabrics which are more “breathable”.

Shoes should fit well and be broken in. On a day hike, a pair of broken in sneakers can be a better choice than brand new hiking boots.

Food and water are indispensable, even on a day hike. Apples, oranges, energy bars, or whatever foods you like should be part of every hike. Just remember, be sure to pack out all of your garbage, including apple cores and orange peels, and wrappers.

Take a few minutes before you head out on the trails to pack the following items:

  • Map and compass (make sure you can use them)
  • Water (1 quart minimum per person, 2 or 3 quarts on longer hikes in hot weather)
  • Food
  • First aid kit (with tweezers to remove ticks)
  • Whistle (three blasts is the international signal for help)
  • Garbage bag (to pack out trash)
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Blaze orange hat (in hunting season)
  • Insect repellent
  • Trowel, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer
  • Cell Phone

Proper planning and preparation will make your trail experience as enjoyable as possible.

DOC November Hike Tree Identification

DOC Logo

Want to learn how to identify trees? On Sunday, November 20th come out for a hike with the DOC as we learn the secrets to tree identification. We will hike in and out for a total of 2 miles at an average pace over easy terrain off RT 325 on state game lands. Meet at the Holy Spirit Duncannon Center at 9:00 am. to carpool or alternately at 9:30 am. at the intersection of RT 225 and RT 325 (parking area – 40.38867,-76.94168). Call Paul at 648-8226 or email psmith@duncannonatc.org to register. For precaution purposes wear something orange.

It’s For The Birds

This summer the Duncannon Outdoor Club planned a boating trip.   Eight brave boaters tackled a very rough Susquehanna River from Marysville to West Fairview.  High winds and water nearly swamped us as we headed from Blue Mountain Outfitters to the river left.  The ledges and rocks were not visible due to the high water and whitecaps caused by the ever roaring wind. This resulted in one of the canoes capsizing, but other than a sudden dunking everything turned out okay.  Once in between the islands the winds were dissipated and we were able to relax a little.  All in all everyone had a great time, asking, “Can we do this again?”

When sheltered by the islands, we floated by Wade Island being careful to keep our voices down due to the nesting colonies of the endangered Great White Egrets, Black-Capped-Night Herons and the ever increasing, invading Double-crested Cormorants.  Wade Island is a designated  Pennsylvania Audubon Important Bird Area and is not open to the public, but can be observed by boat.

Many people are not aware that the Great White Egret is endangered, because they are a common sight in our area.  However, there are only two nesting sites in PA.  A small colony in York County on the Kiwanis Lake and the largest colony which inhabits Wade Island.

The Black-Crowned-Night Heron is also endangered and more illusive then the Great White Egret.  Unfortunately the colonies of both these species have declined and continue to do so due to loss of habitat, water pollution, and nesting site disturbances. Such is the case of the Cormorant colony which has disturbed the  nesting site, taking prime nesting spots, and damaging habitat on Wade Island by sheer numbers and nesting habits.

Cormorants used to be rare in this area, but have increased greatly in numbers over the years.   It is believed that their increasing numbers are a result of expanding fish hatcheries in the south and a larger number of small fish in the Great Lakes.  Cormorants nest high in trees or on the ground of islands.  On Wade Island they take prime nesting habitat in trees limiting the sites for the Great White Egret and Black-Crowned-Night Heron.  Feces fall in large amounts on those below and kills trees and herbaceous growth on the island.  Cormorants also damage the trees when they collect nesting material. This was evident in our trip as we passed the island. This is unfortunate for the Great White Heron and Black-Crowned-Night Heron since they nest only in the trees.  When all the trees die, the Cormorants are known to nest on the ground.

In 2006, 2011, 2012 and 2013 a number of Cormorants were culled by marksmen under the direction of the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services.  The chart below shows the results.  Note the decrease in Great White Egrets (red) and Black-Crowned-Night Herons (blue) as the population of Double-Crested Cormorants (green) increased.  Gaining Information regarding future culling was attempted from various sources without success.

EPSON MFP image

EPSON MFP image

 

 

Some people feel that we should not cull the Cormorants and let Mother Nature take her course. Others disagree believing that mankind made the changes responsible for the increasing number of these birds, and it is mankind who must remediate the results of their actions.  What do you think?

 

 

KTA Trail Challenge – 2016

DATC Works with KTASeveral members of the Duncannon Appalachian Trail Community were among more than one hundred volunteers who helped facilitate Keystone Trails Association‘s eighth annual Super Hike. The Super Hike has been renamed the KTA Trail Challenge to more accurately reflect the efforts of over 400 trail runners who took to the hiking trails of York and Lancaster counties on a very hot and humid September tenth.

The 25 kilometer runners began at Susquehannock State Park and the 50K runners began at the Pequea Creek Campground. Both groups crossed the finish line at Otter Creek Campground where they were rewarded with, not only bells and whistles, but also medallions and t-shirts followed by a picnic supper. Hardy runners and trail hikers are encouraged to start training for next year’s KTA Trail Challenge.

Keystone Trails Association members and their friends are preparing for their fall membership meeting and hiking weekend which will be held October 13th thru the 16th at Whitehall Camp and Conference Center in Emlenton, Clarion County. Hiking will be a big part of the weekend as well as learning more about Grandma Gatewood, glass blowing, the Allegheny River, and the North Trail. Reservations are open through October 16th.

A Hike and Spooky Stories!

On Sat., Oct. 15th join the Duncannon Outdoor Club (DOC) for a 2 mile average paced night hike through the wooded cross country trails behind Susquenita High School. The terrain is moderate to easy with a few short climbs. Stop at the abandoned cemetery for some scary stories told by Wilhalmina Dorotheea Roskabower Kaufman. Bring a sit upon if you wish to sit during the story telling. Bring flashlights or headlamps. Meet at the left side of the Susquenita High School Parking lot closest to the building at 7:00 pm. (309 Schoolhouse Rd. Duncannon – along 11/15) Call 395-2462 or email dtakach@duncannonatc.org to register.

National Family Hiking Day

DOC LogoSaturday, Sept. 24th is National Family Hiking Day.  As part of the celebration, the Duncannon Outdoor Club is sponsoring a hike up to Hawk Rock and back for a total of two miles.  While ascending the 700 ft. elevation, answer funny riddles that are posted along the way.  Families are urged to attend this easy paced hike at one’s own level.  Children are urged to attend.  Afraid the little ones cannot make it to the top?  No problem, take as many breaks as needed.  If you feel it’s too hard a climb, turn around, no pressure.  The goal is to get out as a family in the great outdoors!  Meet at 9:00 am. at the Duncannon Family Health Center.  Call Deb at 717-395-2462 or email dtakach@duncannonatc.org to register.