All of the Duncannon Appalachian Trail Festival banners have been hung throughout town.
It was a cold start to a great day. We had 9 brave hikers who weathered the 19 degree temperatures, including one hiker who lives in California! We began our hike on the East Loop Trail. Once on the steep power line connector trail we followed Janie Trail where we ran into problems. It was too icy for those without Yak Traks or Micro Spikes, so we had to go off trail to reach the top of the mountain. While we broke a “Leave No Trace” policy, the priority was the safety of the hikers. We had planned on hooking up with the Coach Trail, Creek Trail and return on the Pond Trail, but icy conditions required we cut the hike short. We ended staying on Janie Trail, intersecting Lower Springs Trail and following it back to the parking lot.
Prior to starting the hike we had a brief presentation on Black Bears in the education pavilion. It started with the “true – false” test below. Try taking it yourself and see how well you do before reading on for the answers.
- Two species of black bears live in the wild in PA – the grizzly bear and the black bear.
- The main food of the black bear is meat.
- The best way to keep away from black bears is to climb a tree.
- Scientist determine the age of a black bear by counting the rings on a bear’s tooth.
- Black bears can be black, brown, and even cinnamon color.
- In PA bear cubs are born in April.
- Black bear cubs usually weigh around 5 lbs. when they are born,
- Black bears are true hibernators.
- Black bears return to the same den year after year.
- Black bears will not den near people.
- Black bears can go almost six months without eating, drinking, or excreting.
- Black bears will climb trees to take a rest during the day.
- Because of their large size black bears are slow.
- Feeding black bears in the wild is unlawful.
- Black bear populations in PA are low because of lack of habitat.
Whew! Did you make it through all those questions? Let’s see how well you did. Now for the answers…. Continue reading
The weather for our November hike was a little cold. When we got there the thermometer registered 29 degrees, but once we got started things began to warm up. Our first stop was at the lookout on Lookout Trail. We spent a little time there looking for the raptors listed as migrating November 15th, which included: the Golden Eagle, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Northern Goshawk, and Vulture. Continue reading
Our hike to Ricketts Glen State Park was a little wet, but we still had a great time. Mother Nature rained on us off and on, but we did not let that dampen our spirits. The falls were beautiful since it had rained a few days before and water levels were high. You could hear the roar of the falls all along the trail.
We had the privilege to hear Judy Adamac, the park naturalist, as she spoke about the history of Ricketts Glen, past logging practices, trail safety, and the best way to hike the Falls Trail. She recommended we change our plan and go down the less steep side and go up the steeper side since trails were so wet and slippery. We followed her recommendation on the Falls Trail, but chose to hike Highland Trail back to the beach parking lot where we started instead of taking Bear Trail back.
We learned a lot about Colonel Robert Bruce Ricketts, who fought in the a Civil War. At one time he owned or had control over 80,000 acres of land Continue reading
After removing the graffiti from Hawk Rock and improving the trail below, there was only one thing keeping our cleanup project from being a complete success: the trash littering the base of Hawk Rock. During our previous cleanup we picked up the trash far below Hawk Rock but we couldn’t climb all of the way up to the plateau just below it. We needed an experienced climber to get to the most inaccessible areas and that’s where Kevin (The Axe Man) Dunleavy comes in.
Kevin is a skilled climber, caver and hiker who has accompanied the York Hiking Club and the Susquehanna Appalachian Trail Club on many trail maintenance outings. Mr. Dunleavy kindly volunteered to help the DATC and the Mountain Club of Maryland by rappelling down the face of Hawk Rock and cleaning the unsightly mess caused by years of carelessly discarded litter. After descending 65 feet to the base of the rock, he spent an hour filling a large trash bag with bottles, cans, food wrappers and miscellaneous garbage. We then hauled the whole mess up and out of the woods where it was properly discarded along with our regular household trash.
It’s appalling to consider the fact that people can carry full and heavy containers UP the trail but they can’t be bothered to carry them DOWN once they are empty. 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!
Our second outing to clean the Hawk Rock area was a GREAT success thanks to the many wonderful volunteers who donated their time on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. I think almost everyone managed to get at least a gallon of water up to Hawk Rock. We were hoping for 20 gallons of water at the top of the mountain but ended up with about 35 gallons and we used every last drop to blast off as much graffiti as possible. There’s still some paint left in the nooks and crannies but nothing is legible and you can see more of the rock’s natural color coming through.
Third Rock, the rock closer to the bottom third of the mountain, came out almost perfectly clean since it only had a couple layers of paint on it.
In addition to hauling water and removing graffiti, volunteers from Day Hikers of Central PA, Reddit, DATC, MCM and SATC also helped: trim back trail vegetation, clear water bars, slide a big rock off the trail in the avalanche area, fix the step at the bottom of the stairs just before Hawk Rock, and collect 2 HUGE bags of trash from below Hawk Rock. Continue reading
Nearly every Duncannon resident has been up to Hawk Rock at some point in their life. The people of Duncannon are lucky to have what is often considered one of the best views in the state of Pennsylvania with its wide open natural vista showing Duncannon Borough, the Susquehanna and Juniata river confluence, and the Clarks Ferry Bridge off to the right. Shermans Creek is immediately below with Orchard Hill, Dicks Ridge, Mahanoy Ridge, Hickory Ridge, and the Tuscarora Mountain ridges trailing off into the distance. So why isn’t this beautiful vista more popular among hikers and tourists?
Hawk Rock is a great place to go to enjoy nature’s beauty as it spreads out both far and wide but when seen up close, the rock itself is an ugly mess plagued by layer upon layer of graffiti and the area directly below is littered with years upon years of trash.
Here is how Hawk Rock has looked in the past:
Normally I don’t show pictures of Hawk Rock graffiti because I dislike giving vandals any publicity but the most recent incident was too terrible to ignore. Some misguided Romeo decided that the best way he could declare his devotion to his beloved “Anna” was by Continue reading
Prior to our hike we got to examine the cattail and discuss how it can benefit us. Then we proceeded on the 3 mile cross country course behind the Susquenita High School. It is a well kept and well marked trail due to the efforts of Coach Rick Knepp and his helpers. While a moderate hike, some of the hills proved strenuous, especially the hill referred to as the “Demoralizer”, it would prove challenging for a runner as well as a hiker.
Why did Euell Gibbons call the cattail “The Supermarket Plant of the Swamps”? It gets its name because some part of it is edible year round. Parts of the plant have other uses too besides gracing your table.
In the spring the inner core of the first shoots can be used like celery. When the shoots are 2 feet high you can pull out the soft white core eat it raw, boiled, or in salads. The roots can be made into flour which will be discussed in more detail later in this article. Continue reading
We were fortunate to have photographers at our 2014 Duncannon Appalachian Trail Festival willing to share their photos with us. Thanks to Jeromy, Jeannie Conrad, and Charlie Johnson, we have great pictures of the crowd, the entertainment, the vendors and some of the presentations at the Duncannon Appalachian Trail Festival (a.k.a. the Duncannon Blast).
Appalachian Trail Maintainers
The DOC May hike was a smashing success! We got to see a lot of Pink Lady Slippers that had not been present just the weekend before. It must have been all of the rain we had. The cross-country course behind the Susquenita High School was very well marked and maintained.
We did get to see a lot more than the Pink Lady Slippers. There were massive fields of mushrooms along the wood-chipped path. Then we hiked up a short hill to the reservoir where we saw the spillway and clear water. Not long after that we came upon the old grave yard with tombstones dating to the 1800’s. It was a very nice hike through a very nice area of woods and streams.
Prior to the hike we took a few moments to discuss the illusive flower, the Pink Lady Slipper also called the Moccasin Flower, Two Leaved Lady’s Slipper, and Stemless Lady’s Slipper. It is a rare and beautiful flower belonging to the orchid family. They take years to grow and are often picked by unknowledgeable individuals who are unaware that a special fungus is needed for the seed to germinate. The seed is without its own food source and needs a fungus, in the Rhizoctonia Genus, to break open the seed which then attaches itself to the fungus. The seed feeds off the fungus until the leaves are grown and the plant can produce its own food Although this seems a parasitic relationship, the Pink Lady Slipper returns the favor once the plant makes its own food. Then the fungus lives off of the Pink Lady Slipper. So coming full circle the relationship can be termed symbiotic,
In some states the flower is endangered and in others it is threatened. In PA the Showy Lady Slipper is threatened and the Pink Lady slipper is rare and unusual. The Pink Lady Slipper has two leaves coming up from the ground, a long stem and a pink flower at the end of the stem. The Showy Lady Slipper looks similar to the Pink, but has 3 white pedals on top of the slipper.
The Pink Lady Slipper can be found in pine forests, where it can be seen in large colonies, but it also grows in deciduous woods. It prefers acidic and well-drained soil. It can live up to 20 years and relies on bees for pollination,
If you find this flower please let it be. Then it will be present for future generations,
Note: A “thank you” to SeanO for the wonderful pictures.