A few weeks ago, I went hiking around Hawk Mountain, which is in Kempton, Pennsylvania. There is an entry fee and a very fancy nature center, and it is just a bit too crowded for my tastes (you’re talking to a person who can contentedly explore deer trails in the mountains for days without seeing another human soul), but it was still a lovely day. Plus, I got the opportunity to see an old, old friend whom I have not seen for four years. Maybe you remember him from this second hand story?
Because of the way that thermals work, Hawk Mountain is like a funnel for raptors migrating south for the winter. Thousands of birds pass by every fall, and the center keeps a running count that you can monitor online (if you’re into that sort of thing). Here’s a link.
It used to be a place where hunters gathered, but it was transformed from a death knell for raptors to a sanctuary in the late 1930s. It’s one of those times when I wish I had a telephoto lens for my camera! Alas, I have no bird photos for you, although we spotted Kestrels, Ospreys, Sharp-shinned Hawks, a juvenile Bald Eagle, and a Merlin. Here are some other photos from the day though.
One of the cool phenomena of this natural area is the River of Rocks, which is (as you can see in the photo below) what looks like a river made of rocks! When the water table is high, you can hear the water rushing beneath them, but you cannot see it.
The rocks at the bottom of the valley are the same composition as the rocks on top of the mountains. How did they get there? Did they roll down from the top? A few clicks on Wikipedia suggests that they were “formed by periglacial processes”. That not being so useful in general (we’re too far south for the last glacial retreat), there is a later reference to it being a “blockfield” or “felsenmeer”, where because of freeze-thaw processes, the top layer of rocks breaks up into angular boulders.
So that was pretty cool. Geology is one of those things that I wish I understood better. Pennsylvania is a great place for the amateur geologist, so I really should get my act together before I leave!
We hiked for about six hours, and ended up back at the Native Plants garden back at the nature center, where I took some silly photos of plants.