Saturday, February 18, 2017

NOON PEAK: 2/17/17

I enjoyed excellent snowshoeing and views on this afternoon climb, short (3.4 miles round trip) but steep (1600-ft. ascent) on the Sandwich Mountain Trail. Thanks to the trio of ladies who broke this trail out the day before!

There was no parking available at the trailhead, where there is room for only two cars at most; hikers were ticketed here the day before. I ended up parking (with permission) at the Waterville Valley town offices off Tripoli Road, and did a 0.7 mile road walk to the trailhead. Along the way I had a view of Noon Peak, my objective. Noon Peak was named in the mid-1800s by Waterville Valley innkeeper Nathaniel Greeley because at noontime the sun rides high above this eminence when viewed from the floor of the valley.

Drakes Brook at the Sandwich Mountain Trail crossing.

The trail passes through fine open mixed woods as it climbs steadily away from the brook.

Into the Wilderness at 0.6 mile.

A great day for snowshoeing.

A trailside erratic.

An open spruce corridor.

Up it goes.

The second of three very steep pitches on the upper part of the climb. Good training for snowshoeing on steep 4000-footers like East Osceola or the Hancocks.

Near the top I made a short bushwhack to a ledgy area I spotted from Mt. Tecumseh a few days earlier. This spot has a more westerly aspect than the main viewpoint along the trail.

Mt. Tecumseh.

Mt. Osceola dwarfs the village of Waterville Valley.

Back on the trail, a bit more climbing led to the main outlook on Noon Peak, with a sweeping northward vista.

Osceola, again.

The view through Mad River Notch includes Mt. Bond and Zealand Mountain in the distance.

The Presidentials gleam beyond Livermore Pass, between Mt. Kancamagus (L) and Scaur Peak (R).

The rounded domes of West and East Sleeper.

The close-in view is dominated by the Tripyramids.

The wind kicks up a mini-blizzard up the ridge on Sandwich Dome.

Down-look to the floor of the Drakes Brook valley.

Along the ridge.

From the next outlook along the trail, peering into the upper Drakes Brook valley.

It's deep up here!

The southern Flat Mountain peers over the col between Sandwich Dome and the northern Flat Mountain.

An array of Sandwich Range summits.

Another angle on the Sleepers and Tripyramid.

Sandwich Dome.

A blaze at shin level.

Back at the main outlook, the shadow of Noon Peak advances.

Mt. Washington and its satellites.

Descending this steep section I used the soft snow off to the side.

Looking back up the lower of the three steep pitches. Phew!

Sunlight and shadow in open spruce forest.

A warrior tree.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


A snowshoe climb of an old standby...temps in the 20s, zero wind, a softly packed snowshoe track, a snow-caked forest, sharp-edged views...winter at its best.

A nice snowshoe track in the hardwoods.

An old yellow birch, at the top of the hardwood zone.

Preview of the summit view from a ski trail partway up.

Wintry corridors.

There was a respectable snow depth on the ridge.

The folks who broke out the trail (thank you!) busted through some drifts.

It's great when the blazes are at shin level.

The trail split below the summit. The right fork on Mt. Tecumseh Trail is seldom traveled in winter.

From the Sosman Trail, peering down at Bald Mountain and the Haselton Brook valley.

I hiked the last bit up to the summit with peakbagger extraordinaire "Hiker Ed" Hawkins, completer of 6 4K grids, 80 4K rounds overall, and a number of other feats. Ed runs the website

Ed takes in the view towards the Osceolas.

The Osceolas and the whitened Presidentials.

Deep drifts provided some winter-only vistas around the summit area.

Expansive eastern views today.

A zoom on the remote Lost Pass area under Mt. Whiteface.

High clouds made it a world of grey and white.

The Tripyramids, with the North and South Slides both visible.

The sun returns.

Hoodoo trees.

A snowshoer enjoys the NW vista.

The views get even better...

The sweep of the Sandwich Range.

A peek at Sandwich Dome.

The little-visited Livermore Pass area, between Mt. Kancamagus and Scaur Peak.

It was very hard to leave, but after more than 2 hours in perfectly comfortable temperatures, it was time to visit another spot.

This blaze will disappear after the next snowfall.

A short bushwhack led to the southern viewpoint; with the deep drifted snow, there was no sign of the summer side path.

Looking down Tecumseh's south ridge.

Creased terrain on Sandwich Dome.

Vast southern horizons.

The Green-Hogback-Fisher Mountain group, speckled with snowy ledges.

Looking east.

A Black Hawk helicopter on a training mission kicked up a snow squall on the big north ledge of Dickey Mountain.

It was warm enough here to sit comfortably on my pack in the sun.

The inside of a frosted forest.

Moosilauke behind West Tecumseh.

Late afternoon light.

Osceola illuminated.

The Four Pyramids (Scaur Peak and the Tripyramid summits) from the ski trail viewpoint.