Day 2 and we picked up another Scranton Goes Green member, Laura Johnson, to do a 20-mile ride this time starting from Forest City to Fiddle Lake Road trailhead. Another beautiful day during which we saw deer, groundhogs, and a variety of birds. With a couple of the girls having 3 o'clock engagements in Scranton, we got an early start and were on the trail by 9:15 am. We rode north toward Union Dale where we would eventually stop on our return trip for a delicious sandwich at Cable's General Store! Each mile brought exclamations of how beautiful the D&H rail trail is. We saw the deer running into the woods by the Stillwater Dam pictured below and enjoyed the wetlands just to the north and south of it. We took many water breaks taking in the sounds of the spring songbirds adding our own laughter to their melodies. The mountains still have their "peach fuzz" - the light green of new leaf growth. The air buzzing with spring gnats and what I think are six-spotted Tiger Beetles with their brilliant green bodies flying alongside us when I swerve into the grass occasionally while looking at what may be in the forest.
All of this life and beauty reminds us why this is one of the PA IPL Eco Challenges rides. As mentioned yesterday the lower portion of the trail is underwritten by the several entities need for a natural gas pipeline (one of the stations on the trail is pictured below as you approach Union Dale from Forest City), but of course that is only the most recent chapter of this land that has persisted in the face of human use. These mountains have been denuded several times over the centuries - for fuel and farms - and now grow back so that old stone walls no longer mark clearings or pastures, but serve only as evocative reminders of a past lived at least on the land if not with it. Orchard trees flowering bypassed and shaded by encroaching birches and maples in a slow progression toward a new mix of biodiversity.