Sunday, June 17, 2007

Finding Red Rock Pond

I was out of the hut at 9:30 this morning, heading down the Twin Brook Trail towards 13 Falls. No sign of Aaron the caretaker, so I took a left onto the Franconia Brook Trail and began counting the stream crossings. My destination: Red Rock Pond, a tiny body of water deep within a northwestern ravine of Guyot.

My first solo backpack followed Franconia Brook, thanks to my mother’s high school graduation present to me, a tent. At the first possible opportunity in late May, I headed into the heart of the Pemigewasset, to 13 Falls. The wetness of the spring was unavoidable and alarming. I ran into a young couple both before and after they tried to cross over Franconia Brooks to the Lincoln Brook Trail. Their chipper enthusiasm dissolved during the interim; apparently they were unable to get across, and the man developed hypothermia in the attempt. I did make it to the campsite, where the rush of water was deafening, but the experience left a mark.

Today, however, the streams were easily passable. After the third crossing, which was Red Rock Brook, I began looking for an old railroad grade the Guyot caretaker told me was the easiest way to ascend along the brook. It didn’t appear, however, and I headed into the brush, which was thick but passable. After a hot half mile, the railroad grade appeared out of the woods on the right bank. Here and there, a slight path seemed to appear—the western ravines of Guyot have seen their share of bushwhackers. At one point, I found a tiny small cairn.

Eventually, I was back in the trees. It was difficult figuring out which way to go when the tributaries appeared, but I kept to the left—as close to the northern spur of Guyot as possible. The last stream I followed was entirely dry, making the hike a good deal easier because I could keep to the rocky bed. The trees slowly turned from deciduous to coniferous.

In the floor of the ravine, the pond opened up before me, about an acre large. The slopes around it are quite steep, with dramatic slides reaching quite close to the pond. The pond itself did not seem to have an outlet, though I could hear water rushing in. I ate lunch and poked around. Certainly plenty of hikers have visited the pond before; some reeds were matted down as if slept on (possibly by a moose), and a pair of charred logs lay by the shore.

After lunch, I circled to the far side of the pond and began working my way up the slope towards the longest of the slides. At about 45 or 50 degrees steep, the slide had plenty of loose rock and also exposed bedrock. I kept to the latter, trusting it not to move. I climbed several hundred feet very quickly (it took me an hour to climb from the pond to the Twinway, an ascent of about 1500 feet). Needless to say, views of the ravine and out to the Pemi were superb.

At the top of the slide, the woods were extremely thick. The bushwhacking was slow and the slope quite steep. Gradually it moderated, however, and after about twenty minutes, I emerged onto the Twinway. I was back at Galehead at 3:30, much more quickly than I had expected. The hike simply wasn’t all that long, and though it was difficult, the bushwhacking was considerably easier than I had expected. I’m looking forward to Hawthorne Falls, my next destination.


Dave said...

Hey, great report. I have wanted to do this hike for a long time. Which slide did you go up? Did you notice if there were any fish in the pond?

erik said...

I am heading into Red Rock in a few weeks. From the Kanc, how many hours would it take to get there? Fish in the pond would be key, am hiking in with a fly rod hoping to fish east branch of the pemi, up to franconia brook and hopefully redrock as well. Did you see any trout along the way?