Friday, March 11, 2016

A Spring Getaway and Random Thoughts

Wednesday, one of the most spring-like days so far this year, I decided to take a drive up to elk country if for no other reason than to just get away for a bit. There was no real plan and for once my main objective wasn't to photograph elk. While cruising the back roads of the Elk State Forest, the Quehanna Wild Area, and nearby locations I came upon vehicles parked along the roads that were no doubt owned by folks who were out looking for shed elk antlers. It is getting to be prime time for that activity and I did see a couple of bulls that had lost their headgear. In the past I may have joined in the hunt but somewhere along the line I have come to the conclusion that I no longer have the desire to possess such things. If I stumble upon one during my wanderings, fine, but I feel no need to go out of my way to look for one. Something along the lines of the old saying if you love something set it free, I guess.

I saw quite a few elk on this trip, mostly cows and young elk, a few spikes, and a couple of bulls that had already shed. I never pulled out the camera though as there were really no compelling shots to be taken. That, and the fact that conditions were prime for heat shimmer (atmospheric distortion) to play havoc with photography. In the open areas where the elk were grazing you could literally see the heat waves coming up off the ground. To try and get sharp photos in those conditions is an exercise in futility.

On a whim, I headed over to Shagger's Inn to see if the ospreys were back yet, they weren't. Instead I came upon a group of Tundra Swans that were taking a break along their migration path. They were joined by some Canada Geese and a variety of ducks. At one point a pair of Red-tailed Hawks got into a ruckus over something on the opposite shore before heading off and out of sight. With blue skies and a nice south breeze blowing it was a perfect spot to find a log to sit and take it all in for awhile.

The rest of the afternoon was spent cruising the dirt roads just to see what I could see. Occasionally I would stop and take a short hike along a stream or trail. I was reminded that it has been awhile since I have gone on a 'serious' fishing trip, probably not since last spring. I still love trout fishing but think I burned myself out on it to a degree over the years and to be honest I've been on somewhat of a break from it for awhile. It's been over a year since I last tied a fly. I'm getting the sense that I'm coming to the other side of that period though as the old feelings are once again stirring, maybe it's just the weather. I'm not sure it will get back to the intensity it was at a few years ago though, as that is what led to the exhaustion of the experience.

In the morning I had taken a ride up Winslow Hill and there was a large group of trucks and equipment gathered at the Woodring Farm. It didn't occur to me what was going on at the time, as there was literally nothing going on at the time. I took a swing back around in the evening and saw that they had done a prescribed burn at that property and at other places on the game lands.

I will note here that I took the photo below from the new PGC viewing area at the old Gilbert farm. It is the first time I have actually walked out to the actual viewing circle since it has been built, as it has never felt right to me to do so. Taking a photo of the burn in the distance I glanced down at the field below and to be honest it felt a bit sickening. The view was nice and all but the place had lost its soul. So many memories from this spot but it is just not the same, I don't think I'll ever get used to it. I may never walk back out to the viewing area again either.

Behind me the 'progress' of the area continues as it appears that a fancy new sign is being built to mark the new parking lot and viewing area, at least that is my best guess. I wonder how all of this money that has been spent in the name of tourism could have been better put to use to actually help the elk and protect the lands that they roam.

This is the first blog post I have sat down to write in awhile, it is work to keep a blog going on a regular basis. I have a few posts I started but never finished and may regret that later. It is nice to go back and read the posts I have saved from my old blog and I guess I did it more for me than for entertainment or information for anyone else. Sometimes it just feels like anything there is to say has already been said. In any event, it was a nice getaway for a day and perhaps this will inspire me to write down more of my adventures.


  1. Loved the post Bill. I can relate well with a lot of the feelings you express. As for the "tourist" work I would rather see the money spent on habitat acquisition, enhancement, and year-around public access for all rather than fancy viewing and parking areas with snazzy signs.

  2. Hear, hear! The new tourist area reminds me of a quote from Aldo Leopold, "It's so much easier to build a road than think of what the country really needs". How many of us remember Ralph Abele's philosophy of "Resource First" and have we ever heard it, or anything like it, from the current management of either the Game Commission or Bureau of Forestry?