Sunday, October 07, 2007
Spring Creek Canyon hike
Located here in the heart of Centre County is Rockview State Prison, and they own lots of land around the county including a big piece of the Spring Creek Canyon. Most people have never seen the canyon area, as the prison-land boundary starts before the canyon proper does, just past Fisherman's Paradise, a world-famous stretch of trout stream.
Today, however, our local group ClearWater Conservancy got special permission to sponsor a hike through the canyon. We were only allowed on prison land from noon to three pm, but in this heat that was plenty of time to get a good idea of how beautiful this area is, and how threatened: there's currently a bill in the PA State House to parcel off this stretch of land to various groups including Penn State University. The idea that this pristine riparian environment could be one day developed--into university housing, or worse--has a lot of local environmentalists up in arms. I went on the hike today to take photographs for our local community newspaper, Voices of Central Pennsylvania, so I thought I'd show you a little bit of the area.
Over a hundred people showed up for this hike, which was really encouraging:
A little rainbow trout (about a foot long) relaxes in the gentle flow of the stream:
In the upper middle of this photo you can see the limestone cliffs that make this area special, and home to 11 species of plants and animals considered rare in PA.
Here's another limestone cliff outcropping that is easier to see:
We walked through tunnels of turning leaves like this most of the way:
getting some great views of Spring Creek in its more natural state, without the different breaks and narrows that the PA Fish and Game Commission have put in place to make the fishing better down at Fisherman's Paradise:
I even found this little spotted sandpiper in winter plumage (I think) in one of the overflow areas:
The leaves are beginning to change around here, but there's always a tree who goes faster than his buddies and shows off his stuff:
PA lore says that this caterpillar's reddish-brown and black markings forecast whether we'll have a heavy snow winter or a light one, but I can never remember which color means what. Anyone else ever heard of this?
Despite the heat, which was stifling at times (boy I'm such a wimp now, can't even handle mid-80s), it was a beautiful walk, and I think the story and photos will turn out well. The woman who took over for me as Environment editor went along and will write the story.
Birding wasn't too great at that time of day, but I managed to see
On my way home, I saw this appropos metaphor for what's happening to the natural environment all around us:
When I got back, I saw a white-breasted nuthatch in the tamarack tree--the first one I've seen this fall! Sweet! Better go put more suet cakes out there. I'm hoping to get a red-breasted nuthatch at the suet feeders (which would be a lifer), as some other people in this area do, but I won't hold my breath. It's not that piney or foresty around here, what with the marsh and the vast cornfields in this valley.
Thanks for coming along on my hike!