Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Downspout

We finally honored a long-promised return visit to Rattlesnake Gutter up in Leverett. It was beautiful the last time we were up there in the late winter of last year. Back then the melting snow was gushing melt water down the sides of the ravine in several narrow spontaneous waterfalls. The individual waters then united into a roaring stream in the center of the ravine and cascaded over or between massive ice-encased boulders. The large, abundant boulders were dropped in this ravine when it was a spillway for the most recent glacier, about 14000 years ago or so...

Now, after a nearly biblical 40 days and nights of rain, we were expecting similar torrents of water on this visit.



This time, we started at the top of the hill and made our way down the old Rattlesnake Gutter Road. The old road is pretty much a non-stop ascent/descent, depending on which way you look at it. It's not particularly steep, but rarely level; so it surprised us to see several bikers taking the challenge.



Near the upper end, there are tall rock walls lining one side of the gap. This is actually where the road and ravine got it's name; the locals used to hunt rattlers sunning themselves on these cliffs...



Formations like this always make me wonder what use the Native Americans might have made of them, long ago. I imagine the top of the rock face would have made an ideal vantage point to watch over this well guarded, hidden pass...

The tall rock walls begin to drop away the farther down the road you go, and the gap to the side begins to drop into a deep ravine, with massive moss and plant-covered boulders cluttered about far below.





The road is gated at both ends to prevent auto traffic, as it is narrow and in some spots the sides have washed out, down into the depths.



The water was just trickling up here near the top of the hill, and slowly strengthens the lower we descended, but never getting to the amounts I was expecting with all the rain. I guess I didn't take into account all the vegetation absorbing all the moisture, before it made it into the streams. And absorb it did. The whole gap was a downright vernal, primeval environment.



Things were uber-thick and lush, with moss blanketing almost every rock surface in healthy green plant life.



What surplus water the plant life wouldn't use, was apparently forwarded to the thirsty fungi world.



This particular tree had some impressive residents...



And on closer inspection, the residents themselves had residents.



Some kind of Rhinoceros beetle, I'm guessing... (looking in your direction for answers, bug people...)



The geological marvel that is Rattlesnake Gutter is as impressive in the summer as in the winter, but in different ways; not least of which is the heavy leaf cover...



...it's another prize for the mind and spirit, in the unspoiled forests of Leverett. After a while, even the kid was slowly pulling the ipod buds from his ears, zombie-like, and taking in a deep, awakening breath of ol' Ma Nature...



We were glad to be able to get back here for another look...



Now, maybe again in Autumn..?

4 comments:

. said...

Tony - thanks for reminding me of this hike. The last time we were there we took turns carrying our first son in a snugli and now we'll do it with our third son in the backpack. Your photos are gorgeous. Sara

Tony said...

Very nice, Sara...

Mattenylou said...

Tony- wonderful pics! We haven't been there yet this year... now I want to! You always have a great blog and photos, and thanks for that link to the Leverett history, too. It's a beautiful area to visit.

Tony said...

Thanks Mattenylou, and Monk's Cave is on the radar..!