PA sites:  Ostuno   Ernie Ostuno
  Sep 20, 2005 14:40 PDT 

This is a good idea, but I have a problem describing those places that
really stand out in my mind. It is hard to put into words exactly what
makes one place special...what makes it stand out from the others. There
is a "feel" or feeling that is evoked and it depends not only on the
place but a variety of other factors, including things like the weather,
the time of day, and the state of mind I was in at the time I visited
the site. But mostly it's the lay of the land, features such as streams
and waterfalls, the ground cover and of course the trees themselves. Not
to mention the species of flora and fauna I noted at the time of the
visit and even the different sounds and smells of the forest
environment. I am most partial to hemlocks and white pine since the
forms they take after hundreds of years of growing are the most striking
to me.

The reddish bark and gnarled limbs of ancient hemlocks and the plated,
deeply furrowed bark and towering, limbless, straight trunks of the
oldest white pines make them awe-inspiring as individual trees, but
their real power is in them being reminder of the pre-disturbance forest
and what can occur if the land is left to its own evolution. The most
special places to me are those that appear the most undisturbed by
people. Those places are extremely rare of course, but that just adds to
the mystique.

I think that sections of Rickett's Glen State Park and Johnson Run
Natural Area in Pennsylvania are two of my favorites, since there are
sections of both places that I imagine would look very similar to the
pre-settlement forest.

Hearts Content Scenic Area in PA is also a favorite of mine, even though
the understory has been heavily impacted by deer. Walking through the
stand of 300-400 year old white pines there is a nothing less than a
religious experience for those into Pinus Strobus. It inspired me to
write in my hiking notebook: "Old growth forests are among nature's most
eloquent testimony to the passage of time." But that's as poetic as I
can get...there really is no way to truly express the feelings generated
by those primordial forest places.