Winter is gradually making its move. Today, with overcast skies and flurries in the air, I set off into the depths of State Game Lands 13 to scout some routes for the proposed Endless Mountains Trail.
I took PA 87 from Mehoopany and proceeded over the mountain at Colley, taking narrow, winding, and dirt township roads. I had to go this way because the bridge over the Loyalsock Creek in Lopez was completely obliterated by the September floods.
I reached the game lands and to my surprise the roads were still open; they will be gated in mid-January. I drove and parked at the bridge over Ellis Run. The route of the trail will follow Ellis Run. This creek was encased with thick brush, so I followed an old grade and eventually reached the creek, which was crystal clear. I headed downstream and entered a valley with huge ledges, boulders, and cliffs off to the left, or west. The brush was still thick in places, but deer paths made it easier to walk. Soon the creek entered a deep hemlock forest that almost seemed haunted with numerous, twisted branches. I have never seen hemlocks grow like that.
I continued downstream under the cloak of hemlocks as boulders crowded the creek. Ellis Run is beautiful. There are no waterfalls, but many rapids and pools in a valley with large outcrops and boulders. There is plenty of space for a trail and no need for it to cross the creek. I reached the swift flowing Loyalsock Creek. I decided to return via the road I drove in on, so I hopped from rock to rock across the creek. These rocks shifted as I stepped on them; they had not settled since the floods. I began to walk away from Ellis Run when I turned right and noticed some odd stone ruins near the creek. I headed back down to inspect them, I had never seen ruins like this. This was clearly not for a cabin, as the stone structures were over five feet thick; it appears they supported something, maybe for some structure during the logging era.
I returned to my car and drove down the road. My next destination was Lopez Pond. I found a place to park and followed an old grassy forest road through the forest, passing a turkey hunter along the way. I soon reached this serene, beautiful pond, as meandering contours of ice covered the surface. A beaver dam was at its outlet. It is anticipated the Endless Mountains Trail will pass this pond. I took some pictures as the flurries began to fall and hiked back to my car.
My goal was a different pond, what I call the Hidden Pond. To my knowledge, no road or trail leads to it and I hope to include it along the Endless Mountains Trail. I found its outlet stream, and an old ATV trail, which I followed until it disappeared. I headed south and into thick blueberry bushes until I found the stream again. I continued southeast until I reached the Hidden Pond. The pond is about 5 acres and surrounded by blueberry bushes. This is the place to be in summer when the berries ripen.
I was glad to finally locate the Hidden Pond, but it was getting dark and I still had several miles of mountain roads to drive. I retraced my steps as ravens flew silently above the trees in the clouds of snowflakes. I reached my car and headed home. It was great to see several places I haven’t been to before, and that few others have seen.
For a few more pictures, click on: http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/582009854xOVtvA?vhost=outdoors