On a lark, I wrote up a "hiking menu" last night after Frankie went to bed. I included some brief descriptive information about four different sections of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) and showed it to him in the morning. While he ate breakfast, he read through the menu and announced he wanted to do hike number 2. This was welcome news! All the options were of interest to me, of course, or I wouldn't have included them. However, I was most looking forward to this one, even though we hiked the adjacent section of trail last week. Options 1 and 4 follow the abandoned Lehigh Valley Railroad, and as a result, are quite flat. They are also located in a more developed landscape, closer to roads and houses and such. Option 3 is a lovely hike that is also adjacent to last weeks hike (on the other side); Frankie and I did it last summer and will certainly repeat it at some point. Morgan Hill State Forest, especially, and the abutting Labrador Hollow Unique Area, has a remote rugged aspect that really appeals to me, and Option 2 was all new territory for me.
We parked on Shackham Road at the southern NCT crossing, and set out northwest crossing a tiny bridge over the ditch and signing the trail register. The trail steadily climbs upward, gaining about 450 feet of elevation before cresting a ridge and leveling off. It was humid and the climb got us sweating, but the ridge trail was very pleasant. Despite being completely forested, it was windy up there, and it felt great! After the half mile ridge walk, the trail descends steeply down about 400 feet to the top of Tinker Falls.
We hung out here for more than an hour and a half. The stream is almost entirely dried up -- I sat in the center of it for while without getting even slightly damp -- but we went upstream a short distance and found a few small pools. Frankie threw rocks in one shallow pool, and we watched frogs in the other smaller but deeper pool. I flipped over rocks and found a few salamanders. We snacked, and sitting to eat was the only "rest" Frankie got. Finally we decided to head back and started up the hill. There are many switchbacks to ease the grade, and we were soon enjoying the breezy ridge again. On the way back down the hill, Frankie tripped on a root and took a harmless, accidental spill. He enjoyed it so much he kept re-enacting the fall for fun. Whee!
|signing the trail register|
|flowering raspberry (Rubus odoratus)|
|Indian pipes (Monotropa uniflora)|
|looking downstream to the brink of Tinker Falls|
|green frog (Rana clamitans)|
|Frankie was very happy to find a heart-shaped rock|
|stuffing the heart-shaped rock in his backpack to bring home|