Hawk Mountain Hike

I went for a long hike yesterday in the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, an international center for raptor conservation. The reserve is located close to Bethlehem in the Appalachian Mountains, and is called the Kittatinny (American Indian tribe Lenape, meaning “endless”) which is a pretty appropriate name as the Appalachian Trail goes right by here on its way to Georgia or Maine. This is an important flyway for migrating raptors and they come through in the thousands every spring and fall.

I am pictured above in the “river of rocks” which are these long, narrow spaces with thousands of huge boulders. It is amazing to consider that this mile long field of boulders was formed 11,000 years ago by the ice age. The intense cold of that period, loosened the rocks and they tumbled down the valley. They are sometimes called upside down rivers because of the stream of water beneath them.

The reserve has a lot of rocks! It was fun to climb and scramble over them during my 6-mile hike yesterday. The rocks probably saved the area from the Pennsylvania Dutch farmers! The area is surrounded by old farms and new “McMansions” and so unfortunately while hiking, the sound of cars and motorcycles can still slightly be heard.

I saw one raptor flying through the canopy and got some great photos of these black vultures on the East Rocks area. Vultures are scientifically classified as raptors.

It was a wonderfully relaxing day, being alone in the woods. I sweated profusely, but the heat probably kept most hikers away and I had the far reaches of the park to myself. It would be awesome to be here during the migration periods.

The Appalachian Mountains do not have the majestic quality of the Rockies, but they have a beauty and mystery in their own right. I always get recharged being in the wilderness and the hike was a welcomed respite from my doctorate classes this summer. I will definitely be back with my kids, they would love to scale the rocks!