Category Archives: Interesting

Interesting articles related to the AT and outdoor lifestyles.

Duncannon Outdoor Club Kayak Trip: Wade Island, Watersheds, Water Quality, River Basins

DOC LogoOn July 24th the Duncannon Outdoor Club had 11 participants kayak from Blue Mountain Outfitters to the West Fairview boating access. Weather was perfect for the 6 mile venture down the Susquehanna River which was completed in record time due to the swift moving waters from previous rains.

Two stops were incorporated into the trip.  The first, was a pullover to Wade Island where we were lucky to find some Double-Crested Cormorant, Black-Crowned-Night Heron and Great White Egret hatchlings still in their nests. One could hear the continuous squawking from all the birds remaining on the island. Many of the kayakers were not aware that the Black Capped Night Heron and Great White Egret are endangered in Pennsylvania and are being overrun by the increasing population of Cormorants.

For our second stop we docked on an island to eat lunch and learn about watersheds, assessing water quality and river basins.

A watershed is land where surface water runs off into lakes, creeks, reservoirs and other bodies of water.   A river basin is a land mass made up of many watersheds.  (The watershed we were in is the Lower Susquehanna Swatera Watershed.)  Maps were used to help participants visualize the 5 river basins in Pennsylvania: the Susquehanna, Potomac, Ohio, Great Lakes Basin, and Delaware Watersheds. Yes you guessed it, we are in the Susquehanna River Basin, the largest basin, making up the  vertical mid-section of the state.

For assessing water quality, plans were to collect larva and nymphs from rocks on the bottom of the river shallows near the island, but due to the rapid river flow and muddy water we opted not to collect samples but discuss which larva and nymphs indicate good water quality.  On past trips when samples were collected mayfly and dragonfly nymphs, and caddisfly and water penny larvae were found.  Mayflies, caddisflies, and water pennies are sensitive to pollution, while dragonflies are moderately sensitive to pollution.  The presence of these macroinvertebrates indicate acceptable water quality.  Stoneflies were not evident, but are normally found in waters with high oxygen content such as that found in riffles, which were not present where samples had been collected.

Our samples were taken upstream from the mouth of the Conodoguinet. Recent studies downstream have indicated the Susquehanna is not that healthy. Mutated bass have been found to have two genders (intersex). Lesions, sores, and cancerous growths have also been evident on bass caught in the Susquehanna River.  Studies have indicated a correlation: a higher percentage of agriculture in a watershed results in increased mutations.  Natural animal hormones are excreted in manure which is spread on fields and washed into water sources by rain.  Complex mixtures of chemicals such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides seem to be contributing to the problem.  Round up, which is used by many homeowners in pursuit of the perfect lawn, is an endocrine disruptor (a chemical that interferes with hormone systems), and inevitably ends up in watersheds  polluting our water sources.  Another source of hormonal disruption, found in more populated areas, is the improper disposal of prescription drugs which are often flushed down drains, contaminating the water.

The Susquehanna is beautiful river providing many recreational pursuits.  We all need to be cognizant of our influences upon it.  Let’s make the Susquehanna healthy again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 2017 Snow Storm Photos

I got a few good pictures from the latest snow storm and thought I’d share them with you all.

Wildwood Hike: Furbearing Animals

On Saturday February 18, 2017 the Duncannon Outdoor Club (DOC) gathered for an opportunity to hike 3 miles at Wildwood Park, Harrisburg. The theme of this hike was, Fur-bearing Animals.

The park provides ideal habitat for many of the fur-bearers that we learned about. With a 90 acre shallow lake and many different tree, shrub and other plant species there were plenty of opportunities for viewing wildlife.

Pennsylvania has 13 critters that are legally harvested to manage animal populations. Beaver, bobcat, eastern coyote, fisher, grey fox, mink, muskrat, opossum, raccoon, red fox, river otters, striped skunk and weasels. Proper licensing and certifications are required to participate in wildlife management. Abiding by the laws, regulations and bag limits set forth by the Pennsylvania Game Commission ensures safe and effective practices.

We enjoyed our time outdoors, especially in the sun filled areas of the park, as the air was cold on this February morning. The park was busy with hikers (dogs included), runners, and photographers.

Another successful trip for the Duncannon Outdoor Club! We look forward to seeing you next time!

Duncannon Outdoor Club Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area – Migrating Snow Geese and Tundra Swans

DOC LogoOn March 11th Come to the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area to observe the thousands of Snow Geese and Tundra Swans as they migrate to this important way station.  Then hike an average paced 6 mile hike over moderate to strenuous terrain on a series of trails that form a loop back to the visitor’s center.  There are 2 climbs ranging from 300 to 400 ft.  Meet at the Duncannon Family Health Center to carpool at 8:30 am or alternately at the Kmart parking lot at 9:00am.  Call 395-2462 or email dtakach@duncannonatc.org to register.  Please reimburse drivers 10 cents per mile and for turnpike tolls (total mileage is 124 miles).  Bring your cameras and binoculars if you have them and pack a lunch.  Hope you can make it!

Duncannon Outdoor Club Hike at Wildwood Theme: Fur Bearing Animals

DOC LogoOn Sat., Feb. 18th the Duncannon Outdoor Club (DOC) will be hiking an average paced, three mile loop trail on easy terrain at Wildwood Nature Center.  Come and learn about fur bearing animals in PA.  This family friendly hike is for all ages and is dog friendly.  We will be meeting at the Duncannon Family Health Center at 9:00 am.to carpool.  Alternately meet at the Wildwood Nature Center at 9:30 am.  Call Deb at 395-2462 or email dtakach@duncannonatc.org to register.

Ned Smith Center Hike – Theme: Coyotes

DOC LogoOn Sat., January 21st join the Duncannon Outdoor Club (DOC) at The Ned Smith Center in Millersburg for an average paced 5 mile hike on moderate to strenuous terrain.  There is one .75 mile climb up Mountain Laurel Trail to Berry Mountain Trail with a nice view at the top.  Return on Berry Mountain Trail to Deer Run Trail.  Then take Drumming Log Trail back to the starting point at the Ned Smith Center.  If snow or ice is on the trail bring Microspikes or Yaktrax if you have them.  Wear something orange for the hunting season. The theme for discussion will be coyotes.   Meet 9:00 am. at the Holy Spirit Duncannon Center, a Geisinger Affiliate (formally the Duncannon Family Health Center) to carpool or alternately meet at the Clarks Ferry Bridge (RT 147/322) parking lot at 9:15 am. Please reimburse drivers 10 cents for a total of 36 miles.   Call Deb at 395-2462 or email dtakach@duncannonatc.org to register. Click here for larger printable versions of the Ned Smith trail map.

Spooky Stories on Halloween Hike

The Duncannon Outdoor Club went on a spooky night hike for Halloween. It was a beautiful, clear sky with a large harvest moon. While the moonlight helped it was still dark and eerie, especially at the grave yard.  It was also a little unnerving when something was moving in the bushes next to the path.  We continued to hike with a heightened pace and a lot more noise!

Participants listened to ghost stories told by the witch named Wilhalmina Dorothea Roskabower Kaufman.  The story, “Evil Woman” had everyone jumping out of their boots.  Of course the tombstones gave an added chilly feeling to all of the stories.  In the end fun was had by all – especially the dog.

Duncannon Youth Group and DATC Hike to Hawk Rock & Eagles Edge Overlook

On Thursday, August 4th, 2016, the Duncannon Youth Group teamed up with the Duncannon Appalachian Trail Community to hike the Appalachian Trail up to Hawk Rock and then return back to the recycling center via the Eagles Edge Trail. It was a great opportunity for the kids to learn about the AT and the beautiful outdoor environment surrounding them.

We started at the Duncannon recycling center where the DATC gave out free backpacks to the kids and provided magic markers so they could add some color and infuse their packs with their own personal style. They also received complementary trail mix and a DATC pamphlet (because every young kid loves free promotional literature, right?).

After we got everything and everybody organized, we took a “before” photo and headed up the side of Cove Mountain. The DYG leader, Tonya Nace, created a list of scavenger hunt items for the kids to find as they hiked along the trail and they had a lot of fun spotting, and even catching, some of the listed creatures. Taking a couple minutes to point out millipedes or what poison ivy looked like gave us all a chance to catch our breath as we climbed the mile-long ascent to the top. I was really impressed that we made it all of the way up to Hawk Rock in about 50 minutes. That’s pretty amazing for a group of 8 to 12 year old youngsters.

The view from Hawk Rock was great on this clear and relatively cool day. Everyone took turns pointing out the various landmarks that they could spot: Mutzabaugh’s, Cooper Field, the cemetery, The Doyle, the rivers and creeks, the Clarks Ferry Bridge, the Boy Scout’s goose pond, their home or their friend’s and relative’s homes, the railroad tracks, Maguires Ford, and some even recognized Haldeman Island. It was nice to see them gain a new perspective of their distant little hometown.

After taking in all of the sights at Hawk Rock, we ventured west along the ridge of Cove Mountain on the lesser-known Eagles Edge Trail to another magnificent view. The Eagles Edge Overlook is closer to the river and offers another frame of reference for the children’s little hometown of Duncannon and its surrounding area. We all took turns looking out beyond the Susquehanna River toward the outlying hills and valleys. Even the girl who said she was afraid of heights came out on the rock to enjoy the view. Duncannon truly is fortunate to have some of the most spectacular natural resources in the central Pennsylvania region.

Once we all had a chance to enjoy the Eagles Edge Overlook, we regrouped and headed down the steep and rocky Eagles Edge Trail. We took our time and made it down the mountain without incident despite one of our younger hiker’s reputation for being a little less than sure-footed. Once we reached the Appalachian Trail near the bottom of the mountain, we stopped to inspect the pile of rocks (called a “cairn”) marking the point where the two trails meet. Some of the kids even balanced a rock or two on top of the pile so the cairn would be more prominent and noticeable to the hikers who regularly pass it by.

We then took a left turn onto the AT and headed back to the recycling center parking lot so the kid’s parents could collect them and take them back to their air conditioners, televisions and video games. Even though there was an occasional complaint or grumble during the excursion, I think the kids really enjoyed spending some time outside with their friends and experiencing nature and their hometown from a different point of view. And I have to admit that even I had a little bit of fun hanging out with a bunch of kids. Thanks CJ, Kylie, Landon, Liam, Lindsey, Molly, Tonya, and Wyatt; I had a good time.

If you ever get a chance to help out with the Duncannon Youth Group, I suggest you take the opportunity to do so. They’re a great group of kids with a lot of potential.

Where do you belong?

I’m alive and doin’ fine

 

March DOC Hike to Middle Creek

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On March 12th the Duncannon Outdoor Club went to the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area to witness the migrating Tundra Swans and Snow Geese.  Middle Creek Is an important way station providing  food and rest for waterfowl flying to northern breeding sites.  The warmer weather triggered an earlier migration, so we were lucky to see thousands of Snow Geese.  The Tundra Swans were visible only through binoculars, since they had settled down far across the lake.

After taking pictures and observing the birds and the many people observing them, we headed to the Visitor’s Center to begin our hike along a series of trails.  We started at the Conservation Trail to Spicebush Trail, up Valley View Trail, down Horseshoe Trail, to Middle Creek Trail, up Elders Run Trail, back to Conservation Trail to the Visitor’s Center for a total of six plus miles.  The two climbs required some effort, but lunch after the first climb re-energized us for further challenges.

We could not believe that horses could traverse down the section of Horseshoe Trail which was nothing more than a narrow, steep, deep ditch down the mountain.  Horseshoe tracks confirmed that it was possible.  On the Conservation Trail we were lucky to see a vernal pool, a temporary pool of surface water, full of Wood Frog and Jefferson Salamander eggs, an early sign of spring.

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As with every DOC event we had an outdoor educational theme.  The theme for our event was Snow Geese and Tundra Swans so we had a brief presentation before starting our hike. First we reviewed the four major flyways in North America: the Atlantic Flyway (commonly known as the Kittatinny Ridge in the Harrisburg area), the Mississippi Flyway, the Central Flyway, and the Pacific Flyway.

(Please note that the Kittatinny Ridge is being threatened by development.  Refer to Kittatinny Ridge for further information on this topic and to find what you can do to save the ridge.)

The Tundra Swans use mostly the Pacific and Atlantic Flyways to reach Northern Canada and the Northern and Western edges of Alaska breeding areas.  They leave their wintering areas at their lowest weight relying heavily on way stations like Middle Creek and the lower Susquehanna. When winter approaches, the Tundra Swans east of Point Hope Alaska winter on the Atlantic Coast flying 4,000 miles.  Swans south of Point Hope follow the Pacific flyway to their wintering areas along the Pacific Coast.

Tundra Swans have black beaks, faces, and legs.  There are small yellow spots in front of their eyes.  Holding their necks in a straight position differentiates them from the Mute Swans, a feral or domestic non-native species, which hold their necks in an  “S” position.

The Mute Swans are easy to tell apart from Tundra Swans, because they have an orange bill with a black knob at the base.  This non-native species is very aggressive, taking and defending a half square mile as its territory.  It is a very aggressive bird and will hiss, stare, hit with the wrists of its wings and attack humans.   This behavior and a voracious appetite disturbs local ecosystems displacing native species like the Tundra Swan.

Tundra Swans are dabblers used to eating animal matter and nipping off submerged aquatic plants as deep as three feet below the surface.  However, due to vanishing wetlands they have begun to feed on agricultural fields.  Nipping off the tops of plants and eating seeds left behind after the harvest.

Tundra Swans build their nests out of grasses, sedge, mosses, and lichens on the ground  in a place providing good visibility.  Their territory covers a half square mile, but does not seem to impact the local ecosystem as negatively as the Mute Swans. Tundra Swan babies, called cygnets, are born with their eyes open and are in the water 12 hours after they pip the shell. They are light gray in color, are brooded by the parents for about a week, and are ready to fly after two or three months.

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