Ravine, Wintergreen Gorge, PA
07, 2006 13:23 PST
Over the weekend I was able to explore a previously unvisited
ravine system in
Wintergreen Gorge behind Penn State Behrend. Found a new stand
of dwarf E.
hemlock old growth forest. The forest floor was absolutely
was totally covered with a species of pin cusion moss. It was
like walking on
sponges. It was just incredible to find dwarf old growth like
this with no
human enduced trail erosion. Old growth species were mainly
dwarf E. hemlock
with a scattering of dwarf scarlet and N. red oaks. Awesome
stuff. I'll have
to go back and get pictures once I get my digital camera
repaired. I'll have
to map out all the old growth here too. This last ravine system
add another 5-10 acres of old growth.
The trip was a great workout too. It was actually more workout
should've been though. I was about 15 minutes out and down at
the bottom of
the first of two 230 vertical foot ravines before I realized
that I left my
laser & clinometer back at the car! Talk about breaking an
Once I got back to my turn around point, it took me awhile to
devise how to
cross a steep slate bottom raging torrent that was at the bottom
of this side
ravine. The water was only about 6" deep by about 6'
across, but was traveling
about 10mph across a slick shale substrate. I was envisioning
myself getting a
brisk Fall bath and being washed down into the main ravine if my
long enough. It looked like one of those waterslides at an
Even if I made the jump, I could've easily slid back into the
The sides were so steep, the only way out once I crossed was to
climb up the
bank on sparsely placed saplings on shallow mud that was on top
of the steep
shale banks. Started getting flashbacks from my Marine Corps
days... 'Once you
start, there ain't NO turning back!'
Anyway, made the leap safely, crawled out of the ravine (another
feet) then off to the next steep ravine drainage about a half
mile out south
and towards I-90. Made it to the edge of the new drawf old
explained above and couldn't believe my eyes.
I worked my way down a steep knife edged finger down into the
couldn't make it down into the bowl at the bottom. It was almost
about 2/3 of the way down. There was a "deer" path
down a mudslicked contour
that wasn't quite as steep to my right, but it must have been a
Billy goat that put it there... way too steep to descend on
So, I headed back up the finger, then upstream, all dwarf old
growth by the
way, to a powerline right of way. Found a way across the steep
then worked back down to where the two feeders came together.
get to the bottom bowl due to steepness and lack of time, but
dwarf old growth most of the entire way.
On my way back up to the powerline, came upon 7-8 turkey (2
jakes, ~6 hens).
They were so close I could've had my Thanksgiving turkey. If
there was a small
stone nearby, I'm sure I could've hit one. After about 10
minutes, they had
enough of me and headed off.
Worked my back to a main road south of campus, then cut back
into the main
ravine trail behind the maintenance complex. Counted rings on a
small trees that were cut off the trail:
Species Circ at 'x'
E. hemlock 1.7ft Circ at 4.2ft fm base 108
E. hemlock 4.5ft Circ at 13.8ft fm base 183
E. hemlock 1.8ft circ at 5.5ft fm base 76
The older ~183+ year old hemlock suggested some type of stand
thinning at ~100
years ago, then closing of the canopy for the last ~20 years of
its life. I'm
not sure when this tree came down, but it appeared that
1900-1925 there was some selective logging in the area, but the
were left standing.
Also was able to get a partial ring count on an old Am. chestnut
stump was 5.7ft Circ at 1.6ft fm base. I counted about 20 rings
at only 0.08ft
in from the outside edge. The rings/rays appeared fairly consistent,
uncountable to about 1/2 way to the center of the stump. It was
rest of the way.
Was greeted by a great horned owl on my way out. Didn't get to
trees, but still was a great day to be in the woods. Probably
will be the last
warm day in the woods before I'll have to wear thermal underwear
for the winter.
09, 2006 04:58 PST
You had me riveted. Will he or will he not
jump? Very entertaining
description. We want more! You must make one foray per week in
territory for our reading pleasure. This is ENTS at its best.
Back to Dale
17, 2006 09:51 PST
The detailed ravine description reminds me of the time I was
somewhere in West Virginia during a late winter and walked to
the edge of a
precipice deep in the woods and looked down below about 40 or so
noticed a frozen/still intact dead sheep, yes, a sheep deep in
I figured the poor thing must've inadvertently fallen off and
I did not go down to investigate...and am still wondering why
the sheep was
deep in the woods to begin with...
Back to Dale
17, 2006 10:08 PST
In the days before Coyotes started infiltrating the woods of WV
find all sorts of farm animals deep in the woods. For nearly a
year we had a
band of feral sheep running through the woods of Crummies Creek
finally got eaten but it took almost a year for all five of the
sheep to become
coyote food. Fencing is expensive and often the best feed is on