Saturday, January 21, 2017


A snowshoe trek through some fresh unbroken snow to Hibbard Mountain and the Wonalancet Hedgehog, via Old Mast Road, the steep-in-places Wonalancet Range Trail, the Short Cut and the Walden Trail. No views today: murky clouds prevailed throughout despite a forecast for sunny skies and warm temps (though hikers on the highest peaks enjoyed sun and a dramatic undercast). This was a backup hike after the low cloud deck scuttled my original plan to climb Mt. Passaconaway or bushwhack to some ledges off the Rollins Trail.

The Wonalancet Range Trail enters the Sandwich Range Wilderness at 0.7 mile.

There was 3-4" of new snow atop a firm old snowshoe track.

There is a long angling climb through hardwoods across the slopes of Mt. Wonalancet.

This pitch below the Short Cut junction was steep and nasty with crust and ice; it was difficult both ascending and descending. I took an unplanned slide on hidden ice on the way down.

One of the simpler trail names in the Whites. I took this route to avoid more potentially icy steep climbing up Mt. Wonalancet.

Hibbard Mountain in sight ahead.

The Short Cut traverses a long sidehill through hardwood forest.

Climbing back up to the ridgecrest at the Wonalancet-Hibbard col.

Back onto the Wonalancet Range Trail.

Unbroken snow and fine woods on the ridgecrest.

An impressive boulder not far off the trail.

Approaching the south outlook on Hibbard Mountain.

 Mostly gray air here.

My tracks on the approach to the actual summit of Hibbard.

The former good view of Mt. Whiteface is mostly grown up. (Didn't matter today.)

Beyond Hibbard there was little or no evidence of an old snowshoe track beneath the new snow. But the base was firm and the snowshoeing good. A half-mile of slight descent and easy climbing brought me to the junction with the Walden Trail.

The Walden Trail is one of the coolest historic routes of the Sandwich Range, dating back to around 1905.

Moose postholes.

Scenes along the Walden Trail.

Snowshoe hare tracks.

This boulder marks the summit of Wonalancet Hedgehog (3140 ft.).

Approaching the clifftop southern viewpoint, reached by a side path near the summit of Wonalancet Hedgehog. I was surprised when another hiker came down here with her dog, as these trails are seldom traveled in winter.

Frost feathers.

On a clear day, there's a wide view over Wonalancet and the Lakes Region beyond.

Back at the Hibbard Mountain south viewpoint, looking down. The fog hung tough all day long, but it was still a rewarding snowshoe journey on some less-used trails.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


I spent most of a gorgeous sunny, calm day on a favorite smaller peak, with views better than many a 4000-footer. The balmy conditions allowed for a long summit stay. I got a late morning start, so the 4.4 mile round trip off the Kancamagus Highway was ideal for the short days of January.

A trail report on spoke of a solid snow bridge for the crossing of Downes Brook, and indeed there was.

Looking up Downes Brook from the crossing.

The Mount Potash Trail had a rock-solid track, ideal for Microspiking.

A steady climb through spruces up to the first outlook.

Fine spruce woods on the 2200-ft. shoulder.

Pileated Woodpecker at work.

A fine view east from wide ledges on the south side of the mountain, just before the final steep climb.

Ascending the south ledges to the summit.

From the summit -- Church Pond, Mt. Tremont and the Presidentials.

Hancock and Carrigain.

Hancock and its long east ridge, with The Captain on the far right.

The mighty Mount Carrigain.

Carrigain, Green's Cliff and the Nancy Range.

The view south into the heart of the Sandwich Range, with "South Potash" in the foreground.

Mount Whiteface, with the true summit peeking over in back and a massive slide dropping into the Downes Brook valley.

My favorite Potash spot, on the SW side of the summit, gazing across the Sabbaday Brook valley to the Sleepers, Tripyramid and the Fool Killer. How often can you take a snooze on bare ledge in January?

At the head of Sabbaday Brook: East Sleeper, West Sleeper and its Irene slide, and South & Middle Tripyramid.

The gentle domes of The Sleepers.

The Osceolas behind the northern spur of the Fool Killer.

One of the great spots!

Where I was hanging out in the sun.

Wide look at the northern view.

The once-famous "Balanced Boulder" is located along a former route of the trail on the SE side of the summit. A century ago this could be rocked with a push of the hand, but no longer.

View of Passaconaway and Whiteface heading down the south ledges.

The 1890s Downes Brook Slide is well-displayed. The old abandoned Downes Brook Slide Trail turned right at the lower bend and climbed steeply  to reach the north outlook, under the "V."

 Zoom on the wide lower slabs of the slide.

 A bit of tricky sidehilling.

Another angle on Passaconaway.

Mount Paugus through the Hedgehog-Passaconaway col.

The Sisters and Mount Chocorua.


From the outlook on the 2200-ft. shoulder, Passaconaway and Whiteface guard the Downes Brook valley.

From this angle, Square Ledge peeks over the Hedgehog-Passaconaway col.

Mount Whiteface and the head of the Downes Brook valley, several miles upstream in the Sandwich Range Wilderness.