Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Old Gorge Brook Slides: 8/10/20

With a 3:00 pm start I managed to enjoy an interesting exploration visiting two old slides in the Gorge Brook ravine on Mt. Moosilauke. These slides are south of the slide that was the route of the abandoned Gorge Brook Slide Trail.
Signs of the times.

The new Ravine Lodge, empty and silent.

New Dartmouth Outing Club signs.

Open woods and good footing on the 2012 relocation of the Gorge Brook Trail.


Nice bushwhacking.


Fields of ferns.


There's an old slide in there somewhere.


This slide, which likely fell in the 1940s, is almost fully revegetated.



Still a little bit of open rock left.

And a nice view across the broad basin where Gorge Brook and the Baker River meet, with Moosilauke's Blue Ridge in the distance. Dartmouth College owns a sizeable chunk of wild land out here.



Heading across the steep slope to another old slide.


Found it. This one may have come down during the 1938 hurricane, or else during a 1942 cloudburst.


Looking down.

Looking up to Moosilauke's East Peak

Slimy slab.

Descending through the woods alongside the slide.


Moss patterns.

More moss.

Towards the bottom of the slide.

Somewhere to the south of this slide I crossed the route of the legendary 1930s DOC ski trail, Hell's Highway, said to be the steepest in the East in its upper section, with a maximum pitch of 38 degrees. I wondered if this corridor was part of the trail's lower section.

DOC bridge over Gorge Brook.

It was eerie taking a break in front of Ravine Lodge at dusk in midsummer, with no voices and clinking of dishes coming from inside.


Friday, August 7, 2020

Mt. Moosilauke via Benton Trail

There's no better place than the crown of the Moose on a cool, breezy day with 100-mile visibility. The Benton Trail is a pleasant and lightly-used approach from the NW. Near the top I made a bushwhack diversion to an obscure viewspot on the headwall of Tunnel Ravine.

 The Benton Trail is accessed by a 1.5 mile walk up the Tunnel Brook Trail, which follows Tunnel Brook Rd. (FR 700) past a washed-out stretch and then along this pleasant section that is used for logging in winter.

Signs at the junction.


The crossing of Tunnel Brook was pretty easy, but can be difficult in high water.

One of the several really pleasant sections of the Benton Trail, which is admirably maintained by adopter Per "Longmark" Frost.


An excellent outlook, including this view north to the Kinsmans, is reached 1.3 mi. and 1,050 ft. up from Tunnel Brook Trail.

Well up on the ridge, the trail skirts a fir wave.

A beautiful boreal forest walk on a shoulder at 4100 ft.

A short side path leads to a restricted western outlook at 4400 ft. From here I could see that the visibility was exceptional for midsummer, with the Green Mountains clearly visible and several Adirondack High Peaks seen through Lincoln Gap. Ledgy Black Mountain is seen in the foreground. I believe this side path was the upper terminus of the long-abandoned Tunnel Ravine Trail, once maintained by the Dartmouth Outing Club. I know of two avid bushwhackers who have tried to follow the old trail without success, wallowing in a maelstrom of dense scrub and blowdown.


Farther on, a fairly gnarly bushwhack led me to a small cliff at the top of an old overgrown slide on the headwall of Tunnel Ravine (aka Benton Ravine).

From here I had a good look at the slide triggered by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. I believe the light green swath seen to the left of the new slide, starting near the crest of the ridge, may mark the track of a slide that fell in the 1870s and was frequently visited by guests staying at the Prospect House on the summit. Over the years there has been a great deal of slide activity on the steep slopes of this ravine.

The Irene slide was a big one.

Zoom on the middle section.

What it looked like two years after it fell.

Alders have taken over part of the old slide I was sitting atop. This might have been one of the seven slides unleashed in Tunnel Ravine by the Hurricane of 1938.

Looking across the ravine headwall.

Back on the trail, it was a great day to be above treeline. The Dartmouth Outing Club has posted helpful signs to prevent folks from descending the wrong trail.

Heading up the beautiful north ridge.


 What a day! Moosilauke's views boast a unique vastness.

Summit view looking SE across "East Peak," the route of the upper Gorge Brook Trail.

Eastward vista to the southern Whites.

Peering down to the town of Lincoln with Mt. Carrigain and the Hancocks beyond. The red-and-white Riverwalk Hotel is prominent and reminds some viewers of the Mount Washington Hotel at Bretton Woods.

Looking NE to Mt. Washington in the distance.

Summit signs.

Heading back down the north ridge after enjoying two hours above treeline.

The Benton/Beaver Brook Trail junction. The heavy traffic goes right on Beaver Brook Trail. I saw no one on the Benton Trail on both the ascent and descent.

Boreal forest delight.

Evening view of Little Tunnel Ravine.


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Tunnel Brook

Late afternoon/evening hike (the day before the storm) into Tunnel Brook Notch from the north, with a visit to the biggest of the several slides on Mt. Clough.

Ever since part of Tunnel Brook Road was washed out by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, the Tunnel Brook Trail has started here, 1.4 miles from Rt. 112.

The power of the storm on display.

Wildflowers abound on the decommissioned section of the road.

After 0.7 mile the road is in use for logging during the winter, but provides pleasant walking in summer. The actual Tunnel Brook Trail becomes a footpath at its former trailhead, 2.3 miles from parking.

The trail crosses the rubbly outwash of the brook that drains slide-scoured Tunnel Ravine.

Cairn art.

This beaver pond in Tunnel Brook Notch has filled in as a meadow. Looking north, with spurs of Mt. Clough on the left.

Looking south.

I ran into a mess of blowdown on the short but intense bushwhack to the slide.

This is the largest of at least a half-dozen slides on the steep eastern face of Mt. Clough. These originally fell in a big 1927 storm, and slide activity was renewed in a 1942 cloudburst.

Varied vegetation on the slide.

Down-look from a perch on the lower part of the slide.

I scrambled up a little higher.

Peering down at the beaver ponds.

The South Peak of Mt. Moosilauke, which has a great view down into this notch.

View of the slide from the floor of the notch. Back in 1990 I ascended this slide to its top. The bushwhack from there to the summit of Mt. Clough I would not care to repeat.