Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for January, 2009

Seven Tubs Nature Area

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

Sarah and I enjoyed our day of hiking on Saturday so much, we decided to do it again. We had planned to do another long hike, but we were in dire need of sleep. So we slept in and did a shorter hike at Seven Tubs Nature Area, a county park that is nearby and has a trail of about three miles. This is another hike from the hiking book Sarah got me for Christmas. Incidentally, this trail is open for mountain biking as well, although some parts seemed like they’d be awfully technical on a bike. I forgot to put batteries in the GPS, so I don’t have any data for this hike.

The “Seven Tubs” are impressions in the rock carved by the water as it cascades down the mountainside in a narrow gorge. This was an exceptionally beautiful hike, with views of the cascades, tubs, and a few “runs” (creeks) flowing through the areas, and some mountains. There was snow and ice, but again, not enough to warrant snowshoes. The trail was rocky and icy in places, which made for some challenging hiking.

The park was technically closed, but you could still park by the gate and walk in. So, we did. It was a bit of a slick hike down the hill, as the road had some snow and ice on it.

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Walking down the park road

Once we hit the trail, there was immediately a bridge taking us across the cascades where the tubs are located. It was different from what I envisioned. Somehow I thought the tubs would be spread out, not all in one place. Wheelbarrow Run had carved a narrow and steep path through the rock, and the tubs were readily visible. The bridge gives you a great vantagepoint. I did some relatively long exposures so the water would have some motion blur. I didn’t bring a tripod, I just braced my camera on the bridge. I did this at several other points during the hike, bracing the camera on trees or rocks, with mixed results.

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Looking down at the falls and tubs

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A closer view of one of the falls

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Looking the other way. One “tub” is visible at the bottom, and another after the narrow waterfall.

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The bridge

Instead of crossing the creek, we turned on the trail just before it, after taking in the views.

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Looking across the gorge, with a neighboring mountain in the background

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Sarah, hiking up some slick rocks

The trail followed Wheelbarrow Run for a bit, and we hiked up for a while before taking a ladder into a gorge. Fantastic icicles and other formations sparkled in the sunlight. Sarah was patient as I took tons of photos, even a few macro-ish shots with my telephoto lens.

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Ladder down to Wheelbarrow Run (this might be tricky on a bike)

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Flowing ice draperies

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Sarah, below

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Wheelbarrow Run

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Icicles glisten in the sunlight

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Ice-covered rock wall

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Extreme icicle closeup

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More ice on a rock wall

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Another view of the lovely Wheelbarrow Run

Sarah double-checked the book, and we were on our way. The trail climbed out of the ravine and up the rocky mountainside. We had a few views of an adjacent mountain that I’m guessing was Wilkes-Barre Mountain.

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Sarah, reading in the woods

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Rocky trail

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Looking toward Wyoming Valley, where we live

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Some context

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The whole view

We crossed some more small creeks and passed a powerline cut. After a while, we hiked down to a bigger stream, which we followed to its confluence with Laurel Run.

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Power lines

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One of many large rocks along the way

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Stream

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Watching the water cascade over the rocks

Sarah was once again very patient as I spent way too much time taking photos. I couldn’t help myself. The trail then followed Laurel Run back to the original bridge. The water ran incredibly clear, and Laurel Run went from wide to narrow, and back to wide. Rocks and ice in the stream, combined with the beautiful afternoon light, made for a very beautiful and peaceful scene. Rock piles had been built at various points along the trail. I thought they were very cool — my thanks to whomever took the time and effort to do this.

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What a gorgeous hike. I look forward to going back at various times of year — I imagine there must be a lot of wildflowers in the spring. There are a lot of mountain laurel and rhododendron, so June or July should be amazing as well — and of course foliage in the fall. I’d also like to go back again this winter, maybe sometime when there is more snow. Maybe I will bring a real tripod, to improve my photo opportunities.

And of course, I will have to try mountain biking there — although like I said, it would be pretty technical. And I am feeling sort of down on uber-technical riding. It’s never really been my thing, and sometimes the technical stuff gets in the way of just riding.

Beltzville State Park

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Sarah and I decided to check out a new state park on Saturday: Beltzville State Park. We chose to do a hike in the hiking book she got me for Christmas, “Great Hikes in the Poconos and Northeast Pennsylvania.” In this case, the book strings together several trails to make about a five-mile hike. Here’s the map, with photos:


View Larger Map

The hike started easy, on a wide, fairly flat trail. There was some snow on the ground, but not enough to warrant snowshoes. However, things were pretty slick as the snow had a layer of ice on it. We really could’ve used some crampons on our shoes. I got a little worried when the trail dropped down a ravine. It was especially slick there, and I wondered if five miles on ice was going to work out. Once in the ravine we reached a beautiful creek. We were mostly surrounded by Hemlock and other evergreen trees, and the scenery involved a surprising amount of greenery.

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Grass and leaves, trapped under a layer of ice

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Creek

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The trail skirts the creek on the left

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Another view of the creek

It was a slick climb back out of the ravine. However, once we reached the top, things weren’t quite as icy, for the most part.

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Rob, having a blast

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Sarah

We hiked across a clearing, and saw some black bear tracks, the first of many sets we’d see on this hike, and some smaller tracks. In the winter, you can really tell what kinds of animals have been there.

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Small animal tracks — not sure exactly what these are

The trail went down a good hill and we found ourselves at Wild Creek, a bigger creek that we crossed on a bridge.

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Wild Creek

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Bridge

We had to climb some rocks, which proved difficult due to the snow and ice. But we took our time and made it without incident. Our efforts paid off with some excellent views of a lovely waterfall. Some ice clinging to rocks added to the mystique of the waterfall.

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Sarah, climbing some rocks

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Waterfall

Next, we went downhill, crossed a creek, and made a climb up to a ridgetop. We followed the ridge for some time, with more views of Wild Creek below us.

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Sarah and Rob, climbing

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Trail and sky

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My shadow

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Wild Creek

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Sarah and Rob

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Another view of the creek

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Sarah

As you can see, the scenery was amazing. It was absolutely lovely following the ridgetop and seeing a hearing the creek rushing beneath us.

The trail turned around and headed back, this time from further in on the ridge. There were no creek views during this section, but it took on a character all its own. The trees were so dense they formed a tunnel, and once again there were many evergreens. We also saw some wild turkey tracks, smaller tracks from some other bird, and more bear tracks. There must be quite a few bears living in this area, because we saw lots of bear tracks. They are cool to see, but they also make me nervous. As much as I’d like to see a bear, an encounter could be unpleasant.

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Wild turkey tracks

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The trees nearly formed a tunnel

Eventually the trail dumped us out and we followed a small creek back to the big bridge from before. The sun was getting low in the sky, and we took a different path back to the trailhead, passing more bear tracks along the way. We also passed a gorgeous field with grasses in various shades of brown, red, orange, and yellow. In the late afternoon light, it was quite a sight.

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Sarah

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Crossing the bridge again

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Creek

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Approaching the field

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Field

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Sarah and Rob

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Black bear track, next to my size 11 hiking boot print, for scale (of course, the bear print was probably enlarged as snow melted — I doubt it was quite that big initially)

Before long, we were back at the car. We stopped at an overlook on our way home at the other end of the park. It was interesting, but the dam was the major feature. Still, it was quite beautiful.

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Part of the view

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Panoramic view

This was a terrific hike — lots of gorgeous and varied scenery, and we only saw three other people our whole time out there. At the end of the day, I’d spent nearly four hours in the woods with my wife, and our dog. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Still sick, but hiking anyway

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

Well, I’m still a bit sick. Things are getting better, but this is getting really old.

Last year, winter was our biggest hiking season. So far, the same is holding true this year. Sarah and I did some hiking during time off last week, and also hiked both days this weekend. I haven’t been back on the bike since my last attempt at riding, but I hope to ride again soon. Hiking is more manageable when sick, as it’s less aerobic and I generally don’t work as hard at it.

Anyway, here are some photos from our hike on New Year’s Day — we hiked the Frances Slocum Trail at Frances Slocum State Park. There was a bit of snow, but not enough to warrant snowshoes. Some spots were slick; we may need to get some crampons, eventually, for hikes like this where snowshoes are overkill, but our boots don’t grip too well.

The park, and this trail, have an interesting story. The short version: in 1778, a group of Delaware Indians kidnapped a little girl named Frances Slocum. The first night, they held her captive under a rock ledge along this trail. But you should read the full story, it’s worth it.

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Frances Slocum Lake

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Rob

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Shadows

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Sarah, tackling a tricky, slick part of the trail

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Rock overhang

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Icicles

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Another view of the lake

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Snow on rocks

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Rock ledge where Frances was supposedly held hostage

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The view from near the shelder. I can think of worse places to be held hostage.

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