Sunday, April 5, 2020


A heartfelt thanks to all the heroic health care workers on the front lines, and also to the folks working at grocery stores, pharmacies, post offices, gas stations and other places that provide essential services. Please hike low and local, avoid busy trails, maintain your social distancing, and stay safe!

I took a leisurely six-mile, low-elevation ramble in the Smarts Brook valley, half on a combination of official and unofficial trails, half off-trail through mostly open and snow-free woods. It's a good time to appreciate the "details" of the forest, wherever you walk. On this journey I marveled at an ever-changing gallery of rock in many forms. The only person I saw was a fellow local bushwhacker launching from the same parking area.

A stone wall from the mid-1800s - where the first settlers in the town of Waterville Valley homesteaded near the Old Waterville Road.

A unique marking for an unofficial mountain bike trail.

A glimpse of Black Mountain from ledges on a flat shoulder.

Early spring is a fine time for hardwood bushwhacking.


Not a matched pair.

A random ledge in the woods.

A suitably wild forest in the Sandwich Range Wilderness.

Open hardwoods on the flank of Acteon Ridge.



 Supreme social distancing.

Mossy layers.

..under them skies of blue....

The ultimate headwater of a Smarts Brook tributary.

Ledge, moss and spruce.

Transitioning from spruce back to hardwood.


The weathered tree trunk on the right mimics the shape of the rock.

Looking back down a steep pitch.

 A tumble of boulders on this slope.

A prow.



Ledges and the Campton Range. Steps placed carefully to avoid trampling lichens.

The two Black Mountains of Sandwich Dome. The white spot on the left is the scar of an old landslide.

Wonderfully gnarled oak.

Looking back up the ramp.

Fortress in the forest.

Campton Range redux.


Hemlocks and spruce, with a dash of birch.

Ephemeral water sluice.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Staying Low and Local: 3/31/20 & 4/1/20

Staying low and local, sticking to old favorites. On this sunny spring afternoon I bushwhacked on familiar ground in the hardwood-rich Campton Range.

These mountains are small relative to the Whites, but still rocky and rugged.

A slender white ash twists to the sky.

Snow lingers on north-facing slopes.

An intimate view of the Campton Range.

Looking across the Chickenboro Brook valley to Mt. Weetamoo and its western spurs.

I was captivated by this late afternoon woodland scene. Not surprisingly, I saw no one on this three-mile trek.

The next day I snowshoed in to Greeley Ponds via the X-C ski trail, which is also open to snowshoeing (but not barebooting). The spring snowpack was deep and amazingly solid, allowing for freedom of movement anywhere through the woods. It was difficult to punch the poles through to show that the snowpack at 1900 ft. is pretty deep.


 This hardwood corridor was especially inviting.

A cleaved boulder, visited while wandering off-trail through the hardwoods.

At the height-of-land in Mad River Notch I meandered off-trail and found the ultimate headwater of the Mad River.

Fresh beaver activity at Upper Greeley Pond.

The rugged eastern face of East Osceola from Upper Greeley Pond. I did not venture out onto the ice.

Two forks of the northeastern slides on East Osceola. These likely fell during the 1950s, joining with a much older slide (1892) farther down the mountain.

In addition to the ponds, I visited the lower, easy-graded tracks of three different slides along the base of East Osceola. Snow conditions were perfect for exploring today, and it would have been enjoyable to go higher on one of the slides for a view, but low risk is another keyword right now, in addition to staying local. This is the lower track of the combined 1950s/1892 slide, a wonderful easy-graded corridor through the forest that I've traversed several times over the years when the snow conditions are favorable.

After about 0.1 mile, I stopped where the slide abruptly steepens (steeper than it looks in the photo) and sat on my pack for a while to admire the scene.

Looking back down the snowy highway.

I had first tracks on the Greeley Ponds Trail between the ponds. Only encountered (safely) two people all day.

The K2 Cliff and the west knob of Mt. Kancamagus from Lower Greeley Pond.

Peering south down the Lower Pond, which was melting out along the west edge. 

From this spot I had a good look at  thin strip of ice in a crevice on the NE cliffs of East Osceola. Ice climbers call it "Drool of the Beast."  It has also been dubbed a "mini Black Dike."

I went about 0.1 mile up the track of a narrow slide that came down around 1970.

Back down to the pond for a profile view of the K1 Cliff on Mt. Kancamagus.

Went a short distance up the track of an 1897 slide that half-filled Lower Greeley Pond. It starts out nearly level in this lovely hardwood glade.

It gets steeper around that bend. I was up there earlier this winter.

With the rock-solid snow, I was able to wander out around the south end of Lower Greeley Pond for a view of the rugged flank of East Osceola.

The 1897 slide is prominent on the left, while to the right,. the ca. 1970 slide is largely obscured by trees. 

Side view of the  wild Painted Cliff. 

Lower Greeley Pond and Mad River Notch. During this quiet afternoon spent roaming around out here on snowshoes, I did lots of thinking about the health care workers, including five members of my family, out on the front lines right now. They are the heroes. Stay safe!