On and Off The Mountain/Stephanie Grubert

I am finally writing the column I have been yearning for. Ever since the long frigid winter began in December, Mountaintop has been challenged to survive. We have endured sub-zero, ice, snow, winds, and storms every other day and endless dark days with no sunshine. Would it ever end?

As of Sunday April 6 I believe we are on our way to the real spring. My daffodils, hyacinths, iris were all up and one brave little white crocus was struggling to put forth its bloom on Sunday April 6. No sign of tulips yet, but then it is always a surprise if one survives with the moles feast on their tasty bulbs. The daffodils are about a month behind their traditional schedule and only appeared mid-week after last weekend’s warm-up. The 6 inches of icy precipitation that dumped on Mountaintop Sunday March 30 was too much to bear. Published reports called it the worst weekend of the winter of 2013-2014.

I always look at bad weather like childbirth. It’s hell while you’re going through it but once you’re done the future is fantastic. We are into the real spring for sure.

So this week the golf courses will continue to dry out thanks to predicted winds and sunshine now and then to lift our spirits. My clubs are ready for a game and my golfing partners are yearning to go so by next week I will have more to report on that.

Blue Ridge Trail Golf Club has been open since March 22 and Mountain Laurel Golf Course opened Monday April 7. Sand Springs is also welcoming play so we are ready for the new season. The Tuesday evening ladies gold league at Blue Ridge will have their “ice breaker” April 15. I hope that is not in a literal sense. No more ice.

Heslop Road Open for All

The Rice Township Board of Supervisors adopted Ordinance #1-2014, which rescinds Ordinance #2-2013 (vacating an unpaved portion of Heslop Road) at their public meeting last week. So the historic road is now unencumbered by the possibility of gates and other efforts to close it down.

I took my first walk of the year from my house to the Gamelands sign and beyond on Heslop last weekend. The road appeared to be level and navigable by vehicles. There was a little mud here and there, but there were no potholes on the paved portion and I had no problem walking the .6 miles from the end of the pave to the first flat rock ledge. Round trip is 3.1 miles from my house.

The next day I ventured further to the old crushed drainpipe, which is about 2 miles from my house, extending my range to a 4 mile round trip and a mile from the end of the pave. The terrain is uphill all the way. It is a terrific cardiac workout and the serenity of the forest is magical. I did not see any game, people, or birds on my trek. Heslop extends to Brown Street in Fairview Township and I will be sure to measure the exact distance with my Pedometer Pro App, which uses GPS, the next time I take the extended hike.

I had walked that stretch regularly until about three years ago when a knee condition temporarily sidetracked me. Dedicating myself to a regular Heslop Road walk is now more precious than ever after the former Rice Township Supervisor majority worked with at least one adjacent property owner to abandon it and therefore make it private. The Gamelands portion of the road would have belonged to the state, who could have restricted access.

For all the years I have hiked that road I have seen very little vehicle traffic or even hikers. It is a wonderful and challenging hike from Brown Street in Fairview Township or from the Rice Township side. It is public property and I invite all to enjoy.

There are about three areas along the route I hiked Sunday that could use some grading and gravel to make vehicle traffic safe and accessible in those areas. It would not take more than a grader and a few truckloads of gravel to upgrade Heslop. Rice Township Roadmaster Mark Taney will be asked to inspect the stretch.

There are some people who do not want the public road to be accessible for those on foot or in their truck. Shame on them. The Pennsylvania Gamelands have been set aside for all to enjoy regardless of their physical ability to access it.

Rice Township needs to send their road crew down to the area and remove the boulders placed along the side of the road to prevent people from parking and to clean up the public right of way that is now strewn with a large field of boulders adjacent to the swamp. That section is perfect for parking. The abandoned gates lying next to the road should be taken away and sold for scrap and the fence posts sealed in heavy duty concrete must be removed. It’s a shame that the township will have to execute these tasks. Rice Township employees did not move the boulders or erect the fence posts.

Easter in the Air

Easter is in the air this week and the Rice Township Easter Egg Hunt was a resounding success. The Brownie Troop 30197 from Rice Elementary School, led by Holly Guidish put on a professional community event with hundreds of children of all ages participating. The 10 brownies worked with their leaders to make a fun day for the children and their families. Representative Gerald Mullery donated two bicycles for special prizes.

Dorrance hosted their event Sunday April 6 with picture perfect sunny spring weather. Fairview & Wright Township’s Annual Easter Festival for children ages 12 and under are invited to join us and the Easter Bunny for a day of fun, activities and prizes on Saturday April 12 at Fairview Memorial Park, rain or shine. Activities from 2 to 4, including crafts, face painting and a moon bounce. Egg hunt starts at 3 pm. Slocum Township’s Easter Egg Hunt will also be held on April 12 for the children ages 0-12 years. The party will be held from 2pm til 4 pm. The Easter Bunny will be available for pictures and help hunt some eggs and do some crafts.

And it is also prime time to buy Easter Flowers and Easter Candy. The Mountaintop Eagle has the best advertisers ready to fulfill your Easter orders.

Eagle Partnership Anniversary

Kathy Flower and I have a special anniversary this week. It was April 9, 1983 that I first met Kathy at the “Day for Deidre” fundraiser at Crestwood High School. I was at the school covering the event held to raise money to help a local family with medical costs for their gravely ill child. Kathy was there with a mutual friend, who recommended her for the Eagle’s new reporter job. I had been writing up and processing all the news in the Eagle’s weekly editions since 1981 and now I was able to hire a reporter. Kathy accepted the job offer and we have been together ever since. We like to say with a grin that our professional partnership has survived longer than many marriages.

Kathy and I are still writing up most of the Mountaintop Eagle’s original stories and in addition Kathy puts each week’s edition together with the ease of a pro.

Our graphic designer Samantha Laskowski has been our production manager and business office pro for the past year and our newspaper has never looked better. For a quick look at the local news be sure to go to mteagle.comon your computer, iPad or tablet or iPhone. We will soon have a dedicated app for the Mountaintop Eagle on mobile devices.