I got a few good pictures from the latest snow storm and thought I’d share them with you all.
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.
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.
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.
The world-famous Doyle Hotel needs your help!
If you have ever been to The Doyle, if you have ever imagined going to The Doyle, if you know someone with a great story about The Doyle; then you know how important this iconic landmark is to the local community and the hiking community at large. More than a thousand “seasoned” (code word for “smelly”) through-hikers are expected to visit the Doyle Hotel this year to pay their respect to both the establishment and the quirky couple who has devoted the past 15 years of their lives to serving hikers from around the world as well as local friends and families.
The legendary Doyle is in need of your immediate support to ensure that its legacy can carry on throughout the near and distant future. A slower-than-usual winter season has placed the owners Pat and Vickey Kelly in dire financial straights. Fortunately, some of their friends have started a GoFundMe page to rally supporters from far and wide to take action before it’s too late.
More information about their plight can be found at The Doyle Facebook page, Fox 43 News, ABC 27 News, PennLive.com, Penn Live’s Facebook post, DATC’s Facebook Post, this video interview, and most importantly, The Doyle’s GoFundMe page. Spread the word and share as many of these links as you possibly can. We need this to spread beyond the local Duncannon community and proliferate throughout the wild and wonderful community of past, present and future Appalachian Trail hikers. This won’t be an easy task but we all know that every difficult journey begins with a single step. Share the story and support The Doyle today!
It wasn’t easy walking through the knee-deep snow but the views of Duncannon and the surrounding area were definitely worth the effort. I hope you all get a chance to enjoy the sights and sounds that the Appalachian Trail has to offer on a cool and quiet winter’s day.
It’s appalling to consider the fact that people can carry full containers UP the trail but they can’t be bothered to carry the empty ones DOWN. It’s sad really. Some people don’t care or they just don’t know any better. Fortunately, Duncannon is surrounded by good people who work hard to protect and preserve our outdoor natural resources!
Once again, Kevin Dunleavy volunteered to rappel down the face of Hawk Rock and retrieve all of the litter that had accumulated since the last time he did this back in 2014. Thanks Kevin. We greatly appreciate the time and effort you donate to keeping Hawk Rock beautiful.
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.
I 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.
On 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.
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.