Bring it on

"Think what a great world revolution will take place when there are millions of guys all over the world with rucksacks on their backs tramping around the back country…."- Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

Part1: Lake Shore Trail and Larch Tree Trail

>> Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Yesterday, I headed to Francis Slocum State Park (FS), but after picking up the map (which I've never actually followed before), I couldn't decipher one trail from another. Instead, I remembered I had a book called, "Great Hikes in the Poconos and Northeast Pennsylvania" by Boyd and Linda Newman and decided to see if FS had any "great hikes." The Newman's answered with a 7.2 mile hike around the lake on Lake Shore Trail (red blazed) to a loop trail on Larch Tree Trail (orange blazed) and the Deer Trail (yellow blazed) back to the Larch Tree Trail then follow the Nature trail back to the Nature Center Building for the 7.2 miles. Quite a figure 8- trek!
I took my time enjoying the walk on easy trail next to the lake. I even pondered ditching hiking for the day and hopping on one of FS's $10 per hour rentable kayaks, but when I turned the corner and saw the amount of people out fishing, I decided that getting hooked by a plastic worm or knocked off the kayak by invisible string wasn't such a good idea. I kept trekking the barely rocky red trail. Here and there were muddy trail crossings- the kind that tried to steal your boots from your feet. A mother advised her kids walking the path near me, "walk along the side, along the side!" While the chubby-necked little girl in aqua crocs let out a girlish shrill, "eeeeeewwww. AAH!" I picked up the pace to pass them, tromping and splashing my legs.

After about an hour of listening to people talking on their cell phones, whiny children trying to rig up their fishing poles, and about a million "hello, how are you todays," I had reached the end of the red trail and found myself standing on a concrete road at the other end of the park (near the campstore). The wind muted some of the sound and had a bit of a chill, but the sun was still bright overhead and for a moment I stopped on the road. I looked around at an elderly couple fishing together on the shore. They were about twenty feet apart in a small pond off the top of the lake. Both of them had matching zen-like expressions of calm on their crinkly faces.

I looked over at the woman, wondering about my own mortality. Who would I be? Would I make it to her age? Would I be happy? Would I learn to fish? Then, I thought, no matter what: I wouldn't do my hair like that...The old woman's hair was curled, poofed, and teased up on top of her head. I thought about my new dye. Would it be okay in the bright sunlight today? I had forgotten a bandana to protect the color from the elements...and then just as quickly as the thought appeared I shrugged it all off and I walked to the other side of the road.
I quickly checked the Newmans' book. The next part of the hike would be beautifully silent. A walk through an abandoned red pine plantation, blueberry shrubs, and of course (on the Larch Tree Trail) there would be Larches*. But first, I had to pass throught the red pine forest.

The entryway to the pines actually caught my breath. Suddenly perfectly lined rows and rows of pine were in every direction and the ground below my feet was lined in a carpet of firey needles.

More to come about my first June hike at Francis Slocum...
*The Larch Tree

You might have seen this magnificent tree. While all the pines remain green in fall, this deciduous conifer has pinelike needles that turn yellow in the fall. It is an amazing sight to see and well worth a fall hike to see this change. The first time I'd ever seen the Larch in fall, I was fascinated. I obsessed over finding the rare sight amongst the pines. When I discovered that they were called Larches and turned yellow every fall, I had decided then and there that they were my second favorite tree (to the Sycamore).


Erin L. Delaney June 2, 2009 at 11:06 AM  

My friend Kathy posted this to my facebook. Has anyone ever heard of "Beth Run?" If so can you send me an email with some details about it?

"I was wondering if you ever checked out the nature preserve passage that runs between the Lake Jean area in Red Rock down an old railway bed to Noxen?
Alot of people refer to this as "Beth Run." It's a really nice spot and probably equals to around 15 miles of walking from there and back. It is basically a straight shot spanning creekside walking, dense forest, babbling waterfall motions and culminating at Mountain Springs Lake/ wetland birdboxes to the West with a dirt roadway largely untraversed once one gets "out there."
If you have never been let me know."

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