Category Archives: Interesting

Interesting articles related to the AT and outdoor lifestyles.

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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DOC Feb. Hike: Leave No Trace and Hiking Etiquette

Our hike on the Stoney Valley Rail Trail was a leisurely 4 mile hike, two in and two out.  The weather was  perfect, almost reaching 60 degrees. While the air was warm there was still the remnants of snow and ice underfoot.  It was a tad scary driving back to the trail head on a snowy, icy dirt road.  At the last section if one did not stay in the tire tracks the risk of  a sudden drop off the road into the forests was evident.   Fortunately we all made it without incident.

Prior to the hike we had a discussion on Leave No Trace and Hiking Etiquette.  A 10 question quiz started us off on an interesting talk on the do’s and don’ts of hiking.  Take the quiz below and then check your answers to see how well you do.

HIKING ETIQUETTE AND LEAVE NO TRACE – TRUE OR FALSE?

    1. It is okay to leave apple cores and other food items in the woods for animals to eat.

2. Defecate 200 feet and urinate 100 feet from a trail, shelter or water source.

3. Hikers should yield to mountain bikers.

4. Pass another hiker on the right and let them know you are passing.

5. Hikers stay on the uphill side when horses are passing on an incline.

6. Cairns are acceptable as a means of marking trail heads since they are made of natural material.

7. Hikers going downhill should yield to hikers coming uphill.

8. Since flora and fauna are so prevalent in the forests it is permissible to take small samples.

9. You may veer off the trail to bushwhack or follow a path that proves an easier way to traverse to conserve your energy.

10. Make all fires in a fire ring and use small diameter wood found on the ground.

Answers:

#1 False – Leaving food items will attract animals and insects into the hiking areas exposing hikers to rabies or other diseases.  It also disrupts the animals’ natural foraging behaviors. Other hikers do not appreciate looking at your garbage.  (Incidentally, orange peels last forever, and to my knowledge I do not know of any animal that eats orange peels!)

#2 True – Defecate by digging a cathole 6″ x 6″ x 6″ (some say 6″ x 8″), removing the dirt plug and putting it to the side.  Do your duty in the hole and replace the dirt plug.  Take any toilet paper and hygiene products with you. Urinate 100 ft. away from a trail, shelter, or water source, again taking any toilet paper or hygiene products with you. (When on an expedition with Outward Bound in North Carolina we rated our toilet areas.  A beautiful view with a log to sit on over your cathole and a cool breeze was rated 5 stars.  When you returned from your duty you were required to kiss the shovel as proof that you dug your cathole properly, YUCK!)  Another tidbit of info, when brushing your teeth move 200 feet away from water sources and broadcast your spit from your mouth in a half-circular pattern to spread out the toothpaste scented water.  The same holds true for disposing of waste water.

#3 False – ATV’s yield to everything, hikers and bikers yield to horses, bikers yield to hikers.

#4 False – When passing another hiker you pass on the left notifying them of your intentions by saying something like, “Passing on your left.”  Greet people you meet.  This will help them remember you if something should happen and a search for you is necessary.  If hiking and you meet someone that gives you those creepy vibes and you are ahead of your group or worse yet, hiking alone, it is wise to say something like, ” I must be ahead of my group etc.”

#5 False – Hikers stay on the downhill side when yielding to a horse on an incline since horses usually run uphill when spooked.

#6 True or False – This question led to a lot of discussion.  Some of us felt it was true while other had the opposite opinion.  Upon further research it was found that cairns, piles of rocks to indicate a path, have been used since the 1800’s in the Northeastern United States, usually above the tree line.  According the the Center for Outdoor Ethics it is permissible to build authorized cairns and they should not be tampered with.  Otherwise cairns should not be constructed since they lead to rogue trails and confuse other hikers.

#7 True – Hikers going downhill should yield to those coming up.  Still, many hikers who are climbing may yield to provide a short respite to their labors.  When yielding or stopping for a rest step off the trail selecting a used area or a durable surface.  When hiking in a group, it is the groups responsibility to yield to single or pair hikers.  Since it is harder for a group to get of the trail often times the other hikers will let you pass first,  It is their call.

#8 False – Go by the saying, “Take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints.”  If every hiker took plants and other items with them their would be nothing left to see,  Good foragers, people picking edible plants, on the other hand will pick plants knowing to follow the policy of a sample here and a sample there leaving behind plants for regeneration.

#9 False – When you bushwhack you kill additional plants and create rogue trails which often lead to erosion.  Hikers want to see nature, not a series of trails in all directions.

#10 True – Leave standing dead trees, called snags, and fallen trees alone since they provide a source of food and habitat.  Do NOT cut live trees!   Do not build fire rings when you can use those which already exist.  Make sure you are in an area where fires are permitted.  Clear all leaves and debris away from the fire ring.  Make sure your fire is under control at all times and do not leave it unattended.  Make sure the fire is out when done.  Forest fires are most common in the late fall and early spring when there are no leaves on the trees prohibiting the sun from hitting the leaf litter on the ground and drying it out.

So how did you do?  One bit of info left unsaid was the importance of keeping your noise level down in respect for other hikers, and please do not play music for others to hear.  If you wish to read more about the 7 principals of Leave No Trace go to http://duncannonatc.org/leave-no-trace/.

Works cited:

Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics/LNT.org “The Leave No Trace and Cairns,” 2014 Web. 20 Mar,. 2016