I finished the ride, and the day, with ten miles. I rode back and forth near the end while Aaron was talking to Samson and checking his paws, which explains my increased mileage.
Among the first posts to A Taste For The Woods were accounts of hikes with my friend Mike.The Texan is a long-distance truck driver, and while he had a layover outside Hazelton I took him on some short hikes in Hickory Run State Park. But Mike wasn’t alone; his traveling companion Roscoe came with him. The three of us had a great time, two men and a dog.
Yesterday morning Mike told me Roscoe had died. I’m sad for my friend’s loss of his companion on the road, but I feel a small tug as well. Roscoe was a delightful dog; well-behaved but high spirited, good with children, and loyal to his owner. He behaved himself when he was in my car by himself, let children pet him when we walked by a family picnic at Sand Spring Lake, and followed Mike everywhere. We may never know what first brought man and dog together as friends, but it happened. And in honor of Roscoe’s friendship with Mike, here are their photos from our day at Hickory Run.
The Great Allegheny Passage is known for many kinds of exotic wildlife – peacocks, black bear, timber rattlers, recumbent cyclists – but few creatures were as fearsome as Nola.
Just when this ferocious feline began patrolling the trail just past the Deal trailhead isn’t known, but I tangled with her on a hot morning in August 2008. Her approach to me was classic cat. She knew I’d slow on seeing her, and so she took her time approaching me. I wasn’t going anywhere. As I stopped, she turned towards me and rolled onto her side. I dismounted the bike, as she expected. She looked at me with her feline eyes, as if to say “I have a soft white belly, and I’d like you to rub it.” Then she purred. I was foolish and lured in. I extended my hand towards her belly, and as I got close the trap was sprung. Her claws came out and sprang at my hand. Fortunately I was slightly faster than Nola, and got my hand away in time to avoid scratches. She then rolled back onto her side, and purred again to get my attention. Having had one near miss with Nola, I had no wish try again. I remounted the bike and continued on to Cumberland.
A short story of my first encounter with an Eastern Timber Rattlesnake, told from the snake’s point of view. I’ll add in my defense that I now know I shouldn’t have disturbed the reptile, and next time I’ll leave it alone. The timber rattler is a protected species in Pennsylvania, and found mainly in the central and western mountains of the state. His proper name is Crotalus Horridus, but this one prefers to be called Doug.
(Back in the snake den, Doug is talking…. and talking…. and talking…. He corners another snake and stops him when he tries to slither away.)
“So wait till I tell you what happened!”
“Gee Doug, the wife was expecting me to bring home dinner, and I need to get a mouse quick.”
“Wait, this’ll just take a minute. I was in vacation in Pennsyltucky-“
“How did you get up there?”
“Sure, you sprouted wings.”
“No, I flew in an airplane.”
“Oh come on, tell me another one.”
|“Don’t Tread On Me”|
“It’s true. Haven’t you heard that snakes can be on planes? Well anyway, I was vacationing in a place called the Pine Creek Gorge. It’s got lots of nice rocks and flat, level gravel that we can sun ourselves on. So I was resting there, soaking up some rays, conditioning the new skin – I’d shed the old coat, and all of a sudden I feel some water land on me. I looked up to see if it was raining and I saw one of those strange big creatures on two wheels squirting water at me from his water bottle.”
“So what did you do?”
“I showed him who was boss. I reared up and shook my rattle at him.”
“And what did he do?”
“Well, I’d hoped he’d drop the water bottle and run away, but he didn’t. He took out a camera and took photos of me. I was flattered of course, but I realized he may have had more water, so I slithered away. I kept shaking my rattle so he knew I was taking it easy on him. “
“You were lucky. Those two-wheeled creatures are dangerous.”
“Yeah. We need to get them outlawed. You should contact all your relatives who are lawyers or members of Congress.”