by Ed Lawrence, Trail Care Chair
In Delaware State Forest, the main loop of the Thunder Swamp Trail System, bisected by Pennsylvania Route 402 in Pike County, has a lollipop offshoot at its northeast corner that passes by Nebo Swamp, Painter Swamp, Coon Swamp, and Creek Swamp before crossing over Little Bushkill Creek on its way to the main miniature loop around Big Bear Swamp. This was the area that the KTA Trail Crew, in coordination with Recreational Forester Rich Rutan, focused its energy on the week of June 6-11.
Despite early predictions of the week being one long rain shower, the weather turned out to be excellent, with cool temperatures that made for pleasant working conditions by day and necessitated zipped-up sleeping bags at night. The weather allowed the indefatigable tag-team paint crew of Wanda Shirk, Roxanne McMillian, and Mary Ladish to reblaze the entire 8 miles of the orange main trail. While the women were lopping and plying their brushes throughout the week, Tony Robbins, Rick Stibgen, Tom Bastian and Ed Lawrence were trading off duties of clearing blowdowns and running brushcutters. By week’s end, KTA’s premier sawyer had walked through and cleared deadfalls from all the trail sections east of Route 402, and the trail corridor for the newly blazed lollipop was completely cleared of sapling, blueberry bush and laurel overgrowth. The men also defied expectations by clearing the adjoining (soon-to-be) yellow-blazed Coon Swamp Loop in the Stillwater Natural Area that hadn’t seen much upkeep since Carl Windle hung his handmade signs.
Thanks to these KTA volunteers’ 218 hours of hard work, this entire part of the Thunder Swamp Trail System is now in excellent condition and eminently hikable. Rich Rutan is also in the process of revamping the signage throughout the system, with new posts already in the ground and waiting for signboards to be completed and bolted on. The crew was again based out of the well-appointed Resica Falls Boy Scout camp, with the kitchen pavilion, menu planning, and food preparation overseen by the multitalented Wanda Shirk. Everyone ate well—including the bear that slipped into camp Saturday night and made off with the last loaf of bread that was meant for bookending Sunday’s sandwiches, as well as the snake that ate the frog, as documented by Mary Ladish (see accompanying photos).