Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mountain Climbing

On a rather small mountain ...

As the Bob Billings Big Year competition draws to a close there aren't all that many birds left to find. One was a northern goshawk. And the place for goshawks is the aptly named Hawk Mountain. So one fine November morning Patty and I headed off to get a goshawk. And to do a bit of hiking.

We did a five mile hike that started on the River of Rocks Trail and began with a vertical descent of 600 feet. Alas, what goes down must come up. And while I'm good at down I'm not so good at up.

The two grayish spots in the above image, just to the upper left of center, are rocks. The part of the rock river that flows in valley and gives the trail its name. We walked down past the far one while following the River of Rocks Trail.

For the up part of the trek we took part of the Golden Eagle Trail. From the trail brochure:

Vertical rise: 800 feet. The Golden Eagle Trail offers a challenging alternate 2-mile rout to East Rocks. These trails connect the Skyline Trail with the River of Rocks Trail and follow a steep grade. The loop formed by all is about 4 miles.

That steep grade led to a number of rest stops along the way up. Did I mention I don't do up all that well? But there were some great views.

We finished the trip via the Skyline Trail, again form the brochure:

This rugged, ridgetop trail follows the spine of the Kittatinny down over North Lookout, crosses East Rocks (a scenic overlook) and meets the Appalachian Trail 2.5 miles from NLO. East Rocks is a good vantage point for the migration. This difficult trail is recommended only for experienced hikers - just off NLO is a 10-foot vertical descent. 

The Skyline Trail had a number of boulder piles that we needed to go up and over. And the end of the hike consisted of a thirty foot vertical climb to the hawk watch lookout point.

It was a fun hike. But what started a sunny blue sky day had changed in the three plus hours of our hike. As you can see in the image above when we got to the lookout point it had become completely overcast. And while we were eating lunch it began to rain.

There would be no goshawk that day.

(But there would be one a week later. On a day when for the two hours we were there only four (four!) hawks flew by.)

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