Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bear Rock to Miller's Pond, Durham

Uprighted tree - it fell over, was cut, and sprung back up. 
It took awhile to find the spot where the trail crosses Harvey Road, but eventually I spotted a very faded blaze and parked in small pull-off nearby. Before heading up to the promise that is Bear Rock, I had to take the trail south to Higganum Road where I left off last time. That was pretty quick and uneventful, although I did run across an uprighted tree.   Although it may look like someone got up on a ladder and cut this tree ten feet up for no apparent reason, that's not what happened. This is a tree that fell over, was cut in half as it lay on the ground, and then sprung back up as soon as it was released from the weight of the tree top. I've only seen this happen with trees in wetlands, I think because the roots are very shallow. 


It was then a quick climb up to Bear Rock. Near the top you get to choose between the main trail and Bear Rock Bypass. I took the main trail, which required a good rock scramble, steep enough that I had to take off my pack lest it tip me over backwards as I climbed. There really wasn't any good reason for the main trail to go up this way, so unless you are nimble and enjoy rock climbing, take the bypass. They both head up to the top. 

Looking north from Bear Rock
Scarlet Oak
The views were great and the weather perfect. I lingered for about 45 minutes. The leaves were in all sorts of colorful shades of reds and yellows.  The brightest color up on the rock was the vivid red of Scarlet Oak. Pretty obvious how it got its name.

There were lots of other oaks up there as well, with the various species turning different colors. The Bear Oak, more of a hill-top shrub, was going a burnt tan. Chestnut oaks were a yellow-green.
 
Bear Oak (left), Scarlet Oak (right), and Chestnut Oak (back left)

Enjoying the views with my hiking buddy.
After lunch, it was time to meander on over to Miller's Pond. I was wearing blaze orange on this day since it's hunting season and the trail crossed over both a State Forest and private property, two areas where it's best to assume there may be hunters. A pair of trekking poles was also helpful because the ground was uneven and covered with fallen leaves. There were a few steep sections, too. 

Another snake my dog stepped over without seeing.

Miller's Pond
 The blazes were pretty faded, but people had been walking the trail the previous weekend and it was possible to discern the tread with with all the freshly fallen leaves. Eventually Miller's Pond came into view and the trail descended a rocky bank to the water's edge, where someone had left a kind note to hikers.

Will wearing blaze orange help??

Miller's Pond State Park
The sunny, warm fall day was beginning to cloud over, and by the time I got back to Bear Rock, the sky was getting pretty moody. On the plus side, the absence of sun glare made the colors really stand out.

Moody sky

Looking towards Reed's Gap (Rt 68)

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