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Sunday, October 25, 2020

Red Rock Trail to Mount Sophia

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Hi Blog! 

On Saturday, we had a nice socially distant visit with Kathy's sister, Eileen, and her husband Tom. We finally got a chance to put a fire in our backyard fire ring. However, we were so busy kibitzing, grilling turkey burgers and sampling craft beer, we forgot to take photos.

After yesterday's frivolity, we decided to take it easy Sunday morning. The weather had turned much colder, so we were not in hurry to hit the trail. Since we got a late start, we decided to hike one of the shorter trails in our neighborhood. The Mount Airy Trail Network is maintained by the Mount Airy Casino in cooperation with Monroe County and Paradise Township for visitors and residents of the Pocono Mountains. We decided to hike the Red Rock Loop to Mount Sophia.

Here we are bundle against the cold.

There is no hunting permitted in this area, so we could leave our orange outfits behind.

We had a short climb to reach the start of the Red Rock Trail.

The path was well signed. We were surprised to discover at least five side trails. While today's hike was only 2.5 miles, we feel confident that we could make a whole day of it by following the various side trails. This area would also be great for snowshoeing.

While the leaves are past their peak in our area, there is still plenty of color to be found.

We learned a new expression this morning while watching CBS Sunday Morning - Forest Bathing. In Japan, they practice something called forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku. Shinrin in Japanese means “forest,” and yoku means “bath.” So shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through our senses.  It is simply being in nature, connecting with it through our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Shinrin-yoku is like a bridge. By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world.  Below, Kathy waits for Dave to bridge the gap.

Being in no particular hurry, we took the time to read all the informational signs along the trail. One in particular talked about the various layers of the forest. 

The forest floor is often blanketed with decaying leaves, twigs, fallen trees and other detritus. Many of Dave's favorite fun guys can be found on the forest floor layer.

The herbaceous layer of the forest is dominated by soft-stemmed plants such as grasses, ferns, wildflowers, and other ground covers. 

Next up comes the shrub layer, followed closely behind by the understory. The understory contains immature trees and small trees.

You have to look up to see the canopy layer. The canopy is the layer where the crowns of most of the forest's trees meet and form a thick layer.  Above the canopy is the emergent layer. Emergents are trees whose crowns emerge above the rest of the canopy.

On the far side of the Red Rock Loop is a one mile spur trail that leads you to the summit of Mount Sophia. Dave points the way.

When we did our research on this trail, we discovered a local newspaper article on the trail system. It mentioned that Red Rock Trail provided great views of the surrounding mountains. By the time we came to the end of the Mount Sophia spur, we realized those views must have been visible years ago, before the summit became shrouded in trees.

After a picnic lunch, we began our return. On our way back, we chatted with two other hiking couples, about our age, who were out forest bathing themselves.  One couple are professional photographers.  While they were disappointed with the lack of a view at the top of Mount Sophia, they agreed with us that the forest still boasts many beautiful shapes, colors and vistas.

Most of the drama is found in small details.  As an example, we leave you with this image of fern in fall:

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