This past weekend I returned to explore more of SGL 57. These trips felt different, I knew my time in this special place was coming to an end. A journey to explore this wilderness that began over a decade ago was coming full circle. I knew I would be moving on to different locations. I will continue to hike in SGL 57 to explore all its nooks and crannies, but I expect those hikes will be around those places I’ve already visited.
This journey had been worth it, for others now know. What once seemed like a vast, impenetrable wilderness became a wonderland of beauty, right here, waiting to be discovered again. Along the way it transformed me into someone stronger than I had ever been before.
After these hikes, only one more place in SGL 57 remains for me to explore.
After a toxic political season, I also needed some time in the woods. Nature has no care for our political tantrums. It is not concerned with who wins and loses. Nature is defined by a greater set of laws and rules that we ignore at our own peril. What concerned me after this election is how we are so easily controlled and manipulated by fear, desire, and bias regardless of our political positions. Are we nothing more than biological computers to be controlled by which button is pushed? Even in this modern era, we still fall victim to mob and tribal mentalities; we worship political idols too easily. Idols whose talents and abilities may never exceed our own. We only subscribe to the ideology we want to believe and hear. Every election is the same-the same slogans, the same commentary, the same opinions, the same talking points, the same bias. We’ve been through this before, and I fear we’ll go through it again.
Every four years we demand change, when true change begins with us, not who we elect.
Power does not rest with a president. Power rests with us, and the time has come to take responsibility for that power. We need to have the courage to look beyond the surface and the image to truly understand the issues. We need to become immune to bias, agendas, who spends the most money, or who has the most ads. We must have strength to consider different viewpoints. We all need more empathy and less pride, arrogance, and self-righteousness. If we want a better country, we need to start treating each other better. It is that simple. The power is already in our hands. Use it.
I first wanted to check out a small stream north of South Brook, and just south of Boulder Brook (also known as Skeleton Brook). I followed a grassy forest road to the unnamed stream and followed it. It was a scenic stream, as it twisted and turned over small cascades. I then reached the edge of the plateau, populated by large rocks. Further down there was a nice 30 foot cascade over mossy ledges. I explored more of the rocks, which featured some chasms, overhanging ledges, and massive boulders. I returned to the forest road and hiked back to the car.
Next was hike to the ridge between Stony Brook and Mehoopany Creek. I parked at 41.453622, -76.193339. I passed massive, jumbled boulders and entered a forest with huge, old growth oak trees. These are some of the largest trees I’ve seen in SGL 57. I then reached the top of a cliff, offering a fine view down the Mehoopany Creek (located at 41.455424, -76.190685). I realized this was part of the proposed route of the Endless Mountains Trail. I became a little more motivated to work on this trail concept once again. I followed the ridge along large cliffs and ledges, but there were no more views. I turned around. I then drove on the new road to the coal mine. It was a smooth road that went right to the bottom of the mine. There were several people there. The mine has become quite the tourist attraction. Little did everyone know that nearby was Red Brook, with its waterfalls and rock shelters.
The next day was an easier to hike to a place I’d been to a couple years ago- Sprankles Pond. We hiked along the forest road through spruce forests and wetlands dotted with snowgrass. We then reached this sublime, peaceful pond as geese dotted the surface. Such a beautiful place, miles from anywhere. Looking over the water, blue surrounded the scene from the water to the cobalt skies, separated by a strip of bare trees on the far shore. We then turned around as Leigh Ann tried barefoot hiking, claiming it solved all her foot pain until she encountered thick pieces of gravel.
It was good to be back among the woods.