Saturday, September 23, 2017

EAST PONDS & SCAR RIDGE VIEW LEDGE, 9/22/17

On a sunny summerlike day, Mark Klim and I bushwhacked to a fine view ledge on a nameless knob on Scar Ridge. Since the launching point was the East Pond Loop, we also enjoyed visits to Little East Pond and East Pond.




One of many mushroom colonies along the Little East Pond Trail.



Mark takes in the scene at Little East Pond. The water level was as low as I've ever seen it.


View of Scar Ridge peaks from Little East Pond. The main Scar Ridge New England 100 Highest summit is on the left, and Middle Scar Ridge is the sharp peak to the right of center.


Looking across the pond to the ridge we planned to ascend to the crest of Scar Ridge. The ridge extends SW from the 3420-ft. knob with the view ledge.



This fern-and-birch glade was the launching point for our whack. We knew it would be good going at the start, but after that, ???


So far, so good.


Wow, this ridge is pretty nice.


We like it!


Higher up, it gets a little thicker and darker, but remains quite passable with some weaving to and fro. There are even moose paths to follow from time to time.


The final pitch up the ridge leading to the knob is nice and open.


On the ridgecrest, these fine glades belie the fiendish reputation of Scar Ridge. But there are thick woods a-plenty in other places along the crest.


The eastern of the two view ledges is guarded by a belt of thick scrub.



The western ledge looks like a better perch.


Yup, that's the spot. I and my companions had paid brief visits to this ledge on both summer and winter traverses of all the Scar Ridge peaks many years ago. That traverse doesn't allow for a lot of time to hang around. Today we ledge-lounged for an hour and a half.



Looking NE to Mt. Huntington and a bit of the Kanc Highway.



A screened view of Mt. Carrigain.


The double summit of East Scar Ridge, a "NH 100 Highest" peak, looms close by to the east.



The ledge offers a view over a hidden little valley to the mountains around Thornton Gap.


Breadtray Ridge and Mt. Tecumseh frame Thornton Gap, with Sandwich Dome in the distance.



Nice spot to hang out for a while.


There's an abundant crop of Mountain Ash berries this year.


The distant southern and SW views were very hazy today, but we could faintly see Mt. Cardigan, Mt. Kearsarge and Sunapee Mtn.


A serious drop-off in front.


Parting shot.


This bump is the high point of the nameless 3420-ft. knob.


Back through the marvelous open woods on the ridgecrest.



Fern glade on the SW ridge.


Descending along the ridge.


No Scar Ridge whack is complete without a little blood being shed.



Early evening at East Pond.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

ZEALAND NOTCH & THOREAU FALLS: 9/18/17


On a humid, partly sunny day I went looking for early foliage color in the scenic Zealand valley, one of the best of all places for fall hiking.

Ledges on the Zealand River, just off the Zealand Trail.


Zealand Ridge beyond a beaver swamp.


The bridge that replaced the former "Z-Bridge."


Smooth walking on the grade of the 1890s Zealand Valley Railroad.


A peaceful scene.


Mt. Tom seen across the beaver pond near the A-Z Trail junction.



Zeacliff Pond Peak beyond the north end of Zealand Pond.



Zealand Pond.


Zeacliff rises above Zealand Pond.


A fine maple glade a short distance along the Ethan Pond Trail.


Zeacliff and Mt. Hale from the open area along Ethan Pond Trail in Zealand Notch.



Mt. Hale, with Zealand Falls Hut visible left of center.



The only people I saw on the Ethan Pond Trail were a southbound Appalachian Trail thru-hiking couple, Lady and the Tramp.


The cliffs and talus of Whitewall Mountain.


Heading south through Zealand Notch. Hard to believe a railroad was put through here.


Shoal Pond Peak and the NW ridge of Mt. Hancock.


Along the Ethan Pond Trail.


Early color along the trail.


Wild woods of the Eastern Pemi region.

Junction.


The broad ledge at the top of Thoreau Falls offers a view of Mts. Bond and Guyot.



A wider view, including Zealand Mountain.



 Mount Bond, with birch gold on is flank.


 
Thoreau Falls from the top.


Side view of the falls.


Zoom on the lower drop.



Hikers take in the view.


I crossed the North Fork at the top of the falls and descended 0.3 mile along the lightly-used Thoreau Falls Trail until it came back near the river. I hoped to find "Echo Cascade," a water feature described in an 1879 article in the White Mountain Echo tourist newspaper. Joe Richardson found it earlier this summer and posted some great photos. Lost waterfall sleuth Chris Whiton has also taken some fine photos of Echo Cascade.


I started bushwhacking upstream and soon ran into some very gnarly terrain, so I canned the search and settled for this fine pool and waterslide, somewhat reminiscent of "The Pool" along the Shoal Pond Trail.



A mini-cascade at the top of the waterslide.



Leaning red maple.


Not a bad spot to hang out for a while, out in the Pemi Wilderness.


Back at Thoreau Falls, dark clouds were gathering.



Peaceful scene in the Zealand valley, redux.


Early foliage on Mt. Oscar, from Rt. 302.