After a long, hot, and dry summer, it was nice to finally have a cool and rainy day. I decided to return to SGL 57, with the specific goal of hiking up Red Brook Gorge. I had been there twice before in the dead of winter, but I wanted to see this beautiful place when there was still green in the trees. I was worried there may not be enough water in the creek to make the hike worthwhile, but as I hiked up Stony Brook I saw plenty of water tumbling between the round, white boulders.
I hiked up along Stony Brook; the forest was mostly green but there were shades of yellow and red. Further up the mountain, orange, yellow, and red were making an appearance as the mist threaded over the forest.
It was nice to see flowing water as it dripped from the moss or appeared from the ground. I hiked around some landslides and soon reached where Red Brook met Stony Brook. Red Brook lives up to its name- it is red, thanks to natural tannin from the spruce and hemlock swamps at its source, high on the plateau. I made my way up the creek, which was flowing with vigor. I soon reached the first falls, which is about 30 feet tall. I brought my good camera and experimented with shutter speeds. This falls was beautiful as it fell from a deep, green forest into a series of pools. I continued further, passing more cascades and even a long waterslide. Above the slide was another falls formed by jumbled boulders.
The forests were deep and scenic, featuring pine, hemlock, and some spruce. Birch and maple rose overhead. Red Brook is home to a northern hardwood forest. I followed a rocky grade that still had its hand-lain stone walls on the south side of the brook. Moss covered boulders covered the mountainside as grey cliffs rose through the trees. The grade ended and I pushed on, hopping on slick rocks in the creek. I reached the second falls, about 25 feet tall, which is in an impressive amphitheater grotto. Bubbles and foam were in the pool below. The roar of the falls filled the grotto. This is such a special place. In high water, it appears a second falls forms over the rim of the grotto.
I was running out of daylight and hurried back down Red Brook under hemlock forests and across carpets of moss. A large tree rested on the legs of its roots, shaped like a “K”. Nearby, was a massive, old growth yellow birch. I passed a large land subsidence marked by a steep 4 foot cliff in the soil and rock where past floodwaters undermined the side of the gorge. I crossed Stony Brook on a fallen birch tree as owls hooted in the distance. I followed the old road down Stony Brook in the deepening twilight. Up ahead I saw a medium sized bear, it soon disappeared into the forest. I quickly grabbed a stick and clapped my hands, so I wouldn’t surprise the bear. I did not see it again. I reached my car in darkness. Next time, I need to make sure to bring a headlamp.
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