This 9-mile hike was a reconnaissance walk for a shorter group hike scheduled for Saturday, May 21st at 10am. I began on the Green, Orange, Blue Trail passing by some coal culm piles and what I am convinced was a Great Horned Owl, then branched off onto the Brown trail to pass by more coal culm piles and fragmentary remnants of building structures associated with the mines. Here is the location of an explosion of a mine run by the Glen Alden Coal Corporation/West End Coal Company where the lives of 4 men were lost in late October 1931. The first 1.5 miles trail begins going uphill steadily but not too steeply, then gradual downhill to relatively flat for a piece. The Saturday group hike would turn back around the ruins at the 1.5/1.75 mile mark. We will see the forest growing beautifully within these well worn mounds - trees, moss covered ground and stumps, natural caves and human-made pits and chasms with lichen and ferns. The land also shows current wear and tear - there are cans and bottles from parties to shooting range debris all over the culm piles to large quantities of tires dumped in the deep and gorge-ous ravines. Here in Mocanaqua are Ecological Beauty and Challenges side-by-side.
A trip to the Mocanaqua Tract of the Pinchot State Forest allows one to ponder our energy and climate challenges past, present, and future. Besides our coal past, the trailhead provides a glimpse of our energy present with a clear view of the Susquehanna nuclear power plant (bottom photo of the nuclear plant in the distance was taken here by me in January 2022). And, as human civilization is moving toward renewable electric solutions to climate change, not far upriver from Mocanaqua is Newport Township (<5 miles as the crow flies), the site of a proposed natural gas to gasoline plant (Nacero).