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Archive for the 'Spring' Category

The Back Mountain Trail in spring

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Well, spring is finally in full effect here. I think we’re going to have a shorter spring than I’m used to. Back in Bloomington, Indiana, spring lasts a long time — trees and flowers bloom in stages, for weeks. Here, we’ve seen some things blooming but many trees flowered for a day or two and then turned green. And I’m just not seeing as much spring color around here.

That said, I love spring. Especially now — since we moved to PA in October, we have never seen this place green. It sure feels like things have been dead and dreary for a long time. So I glad to finally see things coming to life.

Here are a few shots from the Back Mountain Trail from a ride I did last week. It sure looked different than it has in past rides.

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West Side Trail

Friday, April 17th, 2009

I found another bike path, the West Side Trail. It starts a little ways from the Forty Fort end of the Levee Trail and heads northeast, following the Susquehanna River. The roads between the two trails were a little high-traffic for my taste — I wish there was a better way to get from one trail to the other. Maybe there is; I will see if I can find an alternate route.


View West Side Trail 04/09/2009 in a larger map

The trail is pleasant enough, it’s smooth and flat and has some nice views of the river, some mountains, and the small, private Wilkes-Barre Wyoming Valley Airport.

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Arriving at the West Side Trail

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Eighth Street Bridge

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Susquehanna River

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Wilkes-Barre Wyoming Valley Airport

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Mountains

The trail runs for about 2.5 miles before joining up with the sidewalk along US Route 11/Wyoming Avenue (know locally as “The Avenue”). Now, The Avenue is a busy four-lane road. I have seen plenty of people riding their bikes there, but I wouldn’t want to do that. It’s a very busy road, and I encounter a lot of idiotic motorists when I drive there.

At the intersection is the Wyoming Monument, which commemorates the Battle of Wyoming, which took place back in 1778. According to Wikipedia, “More than three hundred Patriots were killed in a battle followed by a massacre, in which the Iroquois raiders hunted and killed fleeing Patriots before torturing to death thirty to forty who had surrendered.” It was more than a little weird to be riding along and suddenly come across an obelisk and a couple of canons. And weirder still to imagine a massacre occurring in what is now a park.

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Battle of Wyoming Monument

I rode on the sidewalk for about a block or two and then got on Susquehanna Avenue. This is a pleasant, low-traffic road through mostly residential areas. I found an interesting-looking side trail/dirt road and followed it. I followed it down by the river, where I could see a small island. There were side roads branching off of it, but I did not take the time to explore those.

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Pond

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Grasses

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A makeshift snowboard, now abandoned

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Susquehanna River

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The Trucker, with fields and mountains in the background

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Power lines

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Cattails

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The Trucker again

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Small island

The rest of the ride was on roads, most of which were not too memorable.

I’m glad I found the West Side Trail, and Susquehanna Avenue. These could both be useful as parts of a longer ride. I wish the roads between the Levee Trail and the West Side Trail were safer.

In general, it can be a little frustrating trying to find routes through town. In some places, there are large areas with no through streets aside from the major thoroughfares. The West Side Trail and Susquehanna Avenue give me a good east-west route, but I have to go a bit out of the way to get to them.

Larch Tree Trail

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

On Sunday, Sarah and I decided to go for a hike. We just stayed close to home and went to Frances Slocum State Park. This time, we hiked the Larch Tree Trail and part of the Lakeshore Trail.

We parked by a picnic area and walked along the Lakeshore Trail, a wide path with some picnic tables. It was a beautiful day. We were cold at first, but it was sunny and as we got moving we warmed up considerably. A few signs of spring were noticeable, which was nice to see for a change.

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Buds

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Frances Slocum Lake

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Cattail fluff

We were only on the Lakeshore Trail briefly. It dumped us out on a road, and then we went across a bridge to the Larch Tree trailhead.

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A view of the lake from the road

We knew little about the Larch Tree Trail, other than that the pamphlet said it was “hilly.” We entered the woods, and the trail climbed for the better part of a mile. It was gradual most of the way.

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Sarah (who got a great new haircut)

At the top, we saw a field just off the path and decided to venture out. It seemed like we might be able to see something from there. We were right. We spent a few minutes taking in the view, and the dog took advantage of the wide open space to do a little extra running. Sarah even laid on the grass for a couple of minutes to look at the sky and absorb some rays.

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A nice view (Rob thinks so too)

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Rob

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Us

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A nice barn

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Sarah laid down on the grass and took this one

I later figured out that we were looking out over Eighth Street. I often ride through the area immediately below where we were standing. It’s funny how different things look from a different vantage point.

The trail turned downhill and stayed that way. I guess “hilly” means it goes up a hill, and back down.

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From the top, you can’t see much but you can get a sense that we have done some climbing

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Sarah and Rob

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Stone walls … in the woods!

After a bit, we went through a large stand of larch trees. Oddly, though, they had obviously been planted there, as they were in neat rows. Regardless, it made for a unique experience.

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Larch trees

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The trail, still going steadily downhill

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More buds

We walked a little further and could see a deer further down the trail, looking right at us. We tried to get closer for a better shot, but she bounded off through the forest.

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Deer

Soon, we were back at the road. We walked back over to the Lakeshore Trail. We will have to take a picnic here sometime, it would be a great place to relax and enjoy a meal. On the other hand, the field we found would be as well, and it’s a little more secluded.

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A great place for a picnic

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Sarah took this one … she has a penchant for solitary trees

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Buds and sky

It was quite a pretty hike, and I liked that we saw such a variety of scenery in such a short distance (under three miles). I am looking forward to more outings like this: spending time with my lovely wife. Hiking, taking photos, laying in the grass, spotting wildlife. Maybe next time we bring a lunch. Sounds perfect to me.

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