Above the frost line

I’ve always heard it’s another world in Tobyhanna, Pa. Now I know why.

It felt cold Saturday morning but the sun was shining for the first time in a while. It lit the snow in the woods, the trees like hands raised toward heaven for that life-sustaining glow. The house had started to feel small and airless, fairly typical after the holidays. We like to hike the state parks with our cameras, and since the plows had long since scraped the roads clean, we bundled up and drove the 40 minutes north to Tobyhanna State Park.

Tobyhanna State Park snowbank 72Route 611 was bare all the way through Mount Pocono. We crunched over an inch of cinders on Main Street in Tobyhanna, twisting past the Church of St. Ann on the corner with its white statues and turreted stone wall, but the roads were still clear. It was when we passed the entrance to the Tobyhanna Army Depot on Route 423 that we noticed the snow. Near the park entrance it had drifted across an otherwise barren road. Picnic benches straddled heaps of white that used to be green. The boat dock, the rental shack, the lake itself—all were deserted. Trails and roads, blocked by metal gates, were swollen with snow.

With hats and hoods in place, we got out of the car and walked to the lake. A hard wind, the kind you feel along Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, blew ice crystals sideways in clouds so thick we couldn’t see clearly. The snow on the lake bore the waffled tracks of vehicles and, in places where the wind had cleared its surface, the ice glowed, its color plunging from frosty white to blue-gray the deeper it went.

After a few photos we headed back, watching the temperature gauge on the dashboard rise a degree for every mile we drove, amazed at the contrast in weather between the southern part of the county and the Pocono Plateau.