Friday, June 5, 2020

NW Slide, Mount Paugus: 6/4/20

A long, buggy bushwhack into a remote corner of the Oliverian Brook valley. Visited two logging camp sites from the Swift River Railroad (1906-1916) and climbed a small but steep slide with wide views over the Albany Intervale.

The slide on the NE ridge of Mt. Paugus can be seen left of center in this photo taken from a ledge on Green's Cliff. 

 The bushwhack began with a crossing of Oliverian Brook, an easy rock hop this day.

Here we go.

I followed a tributary brook for two miles.

This old hemlock has a grip on the stream.

Hemlock, spruce and hobblebush are the big three in this part of the valley.

By luck I came upon the site of Hartley's Camp of the Swift River Railroad, as approximately shown on the map in Bill Gove's "Logging Railroads of the Saco River Valley."

Some past visitor had leaned these artifacts against a log. As always, note that these are protected by law and should not be disturbed or removed.

Bucket in a tree fork, sprayed by a shotgun?

This may be a steep-sided little ridge mentioned by Frank Bolles in his 1892 book about the Chocorua-Paugus area, "At the North of Bearcamp Water."

As often happens when bushwhacking along a brook, frequent crossing is required to bypass steep banks.

Choked with blowdown here.

Moose have kept a path open along on an old logging tote road.

More luck farther up the valley, finding the remote site of Ladd's Camp.

Wonder what was cooked up in this pot?

Saw blade and remains of a logger's boot.

Almost looks like a mailbox.

Don't know what this container was used for.

Nice resting spot along the brook.

Divergence of two old sled roads.

Found the slide track.

Following it up.

First view back, to Mt. Carrigain, Vose Spur, Mt. Lowell and Mt. Anderson framing Carrigain Notch.

A review of Google Earth images suggests that the open lower part of the slide fell during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. The upper part of the slide is much older.

Moose have been slide-climbing, too.

Looks like a good perch up there.

Steep but doable. Stepped carefully due to loose rock and ball-bearing gravel.

Pretty fine view for a small slide.

 A wider view of Mt. Carrigain and the Nancy Range.

The upper part of the newer slide section.

 Here's where it started.

Birches have grown in between the slide sections.

Heading up along the middle section of the slide.

Birches taking advantage of cracks in the ledge.

Crumbling granite.

I bypassed some sketchy sections with diversions into the woods. The slope of the slide is amply steep, rising 450 feet in 0.15 mile.

The upper end of the slide is a huge granite slab.

Another bypass through the forest.

Top of the slide.

 Yikes! A commanding view over the Albany Intervale to the mountains beyond.

 A more westerly angle down a bit along the edge.

Mt. Passaconaway and the Tripyramids.

Hedgehog Mountain and the prominent East Ledges, with Potash Mountain and Mt. Kancamagus behind.

 Cool roof rock at the top of the slide.

 The Paugus spruces, what the loggers came for a century ago.

After some threatening clouds passed by, the skies cleared nicely.

A hazy view of Mt. Washington, with the East Snowfields visible.

Moose sign along the slide.

 Homeward bound down the lower slide.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Osceola Brook Slides: 5/31/20

A cool and windy day provided good conditions for a strenuous bushwhack to the two slides on the headwall of the Osceola Brook valley: a large rock slab slide on the west, and a narrow gravelly slide on the east. Both fell during Hurricane Carol in 1954. I had visited these several winters ago on a snowshoe bushwhack with Mark Klim, but snow conditions weren't safe for getting the best views of the bigger rock slab slide. A return visit was in order.

I scouted the bigger slide the day before when Carol and I did a geocaching hike over the top of the old Snows Mountain Ski Area in Waterville Valley.

A long, enticing series of cascades was spilling down the slabs.

Setting out the next morning, I enjoyed the spring greenery along the Waterville X-C ski trails.

To approach the slides, I used an old logging sled road from the 1940s that I had checked out twelve days earlier. The lower part of the road was mostly filled with feathery beech saplings.

A brief open stretch of the road through fine hardwood forest.

Most of the road is populated with prickly conifers.

Local residents travel this way, too.

It's a long and tedious walk with countless branches in the face and blowdowns to step over, but the level footbed of the road, dug into the mountainside, makes for an easier approach than a whack up the steep-sided drainage below.

High in the valley the road crosses a steep tributary brook, with a spur of East Osceola seen across.

Eventually I descended into the valley and made my way to the fork in Osceola Brook, where the tracks of the two slides meet.

As we had on our snowshoe trip, I headed up the steep ridge betwen the slides. The woods here are kinda ugly. I wondered if the old Ravine Path, opened by Arthur L. Goodrich in 1900, used this ridge for part of its route. It led up the valley headwall to the Osceola-East Osceola col. It was later called the Osceola Brook Trail, and was abandoned in the 1940s, before the Hurricane Carol slides fell. Descriptions of this steep and rough trail suggest that it partly followed an older slide.

I climbed partway up the ridge, then dropped steeply to the base of the western, rock slab slide.

A fine cascade spilled over the lower part of the slab.

Good flow of water.

Cliffs on the ridgecrest of Mt. Osceola loomed high above.

The lower slab had enough dry, grippy rock to safely climb.

Bluets were blooming along the edge.

I was careful to step only on dry ledge. The wet slabs are slippery as ice.

A narrow dry strip here and then into the woods, to avoid trampling fragile vegetation along the edge. The cascades on the big upper slab visible above.


I popped back out on a dry and comfortable ledge perch at the top of the lower slab.

Labrador Tea is among the plant life along the fringe of the slide.

A cascade and pool behind the perch.

From the top of the cascade, a view up more cascades on the lower part of the big slab.

The woods are very dense on the steep slope alongside the big slab.

This part of the slide is essentially unclimbable when wet.

Emerging at a view spot higher up, looking out to Flat Mountain North and Sandwich Dome beyond the village of Waterville Valley.

An impressive scene of ledge and falling water.

After more tussling with the scrub, I found a little dry ledge perch high on the slide.

Many shelves of granite.

Step out here at your peril.

Beautiful tufts of grass or sedge adorn the center of the slide.

Zoom on Sandwich Dome and Waterville Valley.

Looking across near the top of the slide.

Type 2 fun descending the ridge between the slides.

Slow going with uncertain footing.

It took a while to get across to the eastern slide, a narrow gravelly gouge.

A powerful surge came through here during Hurricane Carol.

Descending this open corridor was heavenly compared to the thick growth and treacherous turf on the adjacent ridge.

More gouging down near the bottom. Once at the confluence of the slide tracks, I whacked back up to the old sled road for the long prickly walk out.