Category Archives: Outdoor Opportunities

Get outdoors with people in the Duncannon community.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Winter Hiking Tips

Snowflakes and Bootprints

Even though the weather has turned colder and the snowflakes are starting to fly, that doesn’t mean that your hiking trips need to wait until spring. Winter is a wonderful time to hike. There are usually no more crowds of people and a lot of trails take on an entirely different look under a blanket of freshly fallen snow.

Wearing layers is the most important thing to remember when hiking in the winter months. Although it feels cold at the trailhead, your body will start to generate heat after just 10 to 15 minutes of walking, especially if you are hiking on a particularly difficult trail. Layering is important to staying warm and maintaining a constant body temperature throughout the hike.

When you layer:

  • Start with a base layer to wick moisture off your body.
  • A fleece jacket is next for insulation and warmth.
  • Finally, a shell keeps you dry and shttps://www.yaktrax.com/tops the wind from penetrating.
  • Remember to avoid cotton. Once wet, cotton will no longer insulate you from the cold. Also, it wicks heat away from your body and puts you at risk for hypothermia.

Other winter hiking garments include:

Ice flow seen near the bottom of the steps leading up to Hawk Rock.

DOC/ATC National Family Hiking Day

DOC Logo The Duncannon Outdoor Club (DOC) joined the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) in their efforts to celebrate National Family Hiking Day in September, 2016.  The DOC offered a “hike at your own pace” hike up to Hawk Rock.  Prior to the assent participants decorated tree cookie necklaces provided by the ATC.  They were so popular that other hikers at the top inquired how to get a necklace.

A group shot with out tree cookie necklaces.

A group shot with out tree cookie necklaces.

Participants included a wide range of ages.  A baby, kids, adults and three dogs comprised our list of adventurers.  Many of our hikers had always wanted to hike Hawk Rock but were hesitant to do so independently or in a group because of the difficulty.  When given the option to hike at one’s own pace in a group with an experienced leader, hikers chose to enjoy a safe, comfortable alternative and mastered the climb.  Everyone made it to the top and back successfully without incident.

Checking out one of the riddles posted along the way,

Checking out one of the riddles posted along the way,

In order to motivate the hikers and make it entertaining, thirty riddles, with answers on the flip side, were posted along the way.  Many hikers, not with our group, read the riddles as they hiked up and down the mountain.  A big thank you goes to Sean O for posting the riddles ahead of time.  Riddles were removed by the sweep so as to leave no trace.  What was the riddle at the top? :  What does a mountain and an addition problem have in common? (answer at article’s end).

Below are pictures depicting the event.


 

Answer to the riddle: You sum it.

 

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 Traks 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 K Mart in Enola at 9:00 am.  Pack a lunch and don’t forget fluids.  Wear something orange for the hunting season.   Please reimburse drivers 10 cents a mile. Total miles = 52 miles from  K Mart and back. Call Deb at 395-2462 or email dtakach@duncannonatc.org to register.  Hope you can make it!

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.