Wednesday, November 19, 2014

TUNNEL BROOK: 11/18/14

On an unseasonably cold November day I trekked into Tunnel Brook Notch from the north and saw some interesting sights along the way.

I parked at the gate where the road has been closed since washouts from Tropical Storm Irene and started a bit before noon. Major repair work has been going on here, so I had to bushwhack the first 0.8 mile to get around the construction zone, crossing Tunnel Brook twice. From there I enjoyed pleasant walking along the undamaged section of Tunnel Brook Road. The only bird I saw all day was a Snow Bunting foraging ahead of me along the road.

Not far before reaching the Benton Trail I spotted an old mossy foundation down in the woods.

Nearby were these old gear wheels - perhaps the remains of an old mill?

A rusting old culvert of some sort.

A bit farther along through the woods I came upon this rusted old car, which looks to be of Eliot Ness (late 1920s/early 1930s) vintage. Supposedly the last car to make it through Tunnel Brook Notch on the old road, before it was obliterated by landslides in 1927, was a Ford Model T. Could this be that car?

Open door view.

Interior view.

From the back. Still a bit of blue paint visible.

This rig was just behind the car; wonder what it was used for?

Looks like a gas tank.

On the other side of Tunnel Brook Road, off an overgrown loop road at the top of a hill, is the cellar hole from the old Parker House, a small hotel that operated from 1904 to about 1930.

In its heyday the Parker House had an open view up to the ridges of Mt. Moosilauke.

After another mile I reached the Tunnel Brook Trail. A half-mile or so up the trail was this nice gravel bar on Tunnel Brook.

Just upstream was a new beaver dam.

Rubbly outwash from Moosilauke's Benton (Tunnel) Ravine, swept down by Tropical Storm Irene. The brookbed is now dry here.

I took a short path out to a favorite beaver meadow with the ridges of Mt. Clough rising to the west.

I crossed the brook to the west side of the meadow where there is a peek into Benton Ravine.

It looked wintry on the high ridge.

More Moosilauke ridgeline to the south.

The mellow Tunnel Brook Trail.

The first Tunnel Brook crossing on the trail. Surprisingly, icy rocks were not a problem on the crossings.

A dusting of snow in the fine hardwoods approaching the second crossing.

When I arrived at the first beaver pond in Tunnel Brook Notch at 2:45, it was cold (about 20 or lower), windy and wonderfully desolate.

The old beaver dam at the first pond.

The big slides on Mt. Clough.

Looking north from the second beaver pond. The unique pond-and-slide scenery of Tunnel Brook Notch is some of the best in the Whites, and draws me back again and again.

From the third/fourth pond, another angle on the Clough slides. It was too late to go to Mud Pond at the south end of the notch, a half-mile away.

On the way back I pushed through dense spruce up an old slide track above the first pond on the Moosilauke side. This tiny stream runs down through the slide track.

I made my way to this open gravel patch, one of two remaining on this slide.

Clough slides from the Moosilauke slide.

In this view from a Clough slide, the outline of the old Moosilauke slide can be seen as the triangle and strip of dark spruces above the first two beaver ponds. The gravel patch I visited can be seen near the center of the photo.

A nice cairn along the Tunnel Brook Trail. I came out in the dark, and was able to walk the road the whole way as construction work was done for the day.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


Continuing a series of explorations of brooks around Mt. Moosilauke, on this cloudy November day I followed the south branch of Walker Brook from the end of the Walker Brook logging road up to near its source on the steep east slope of Mount Braley (the peak just south of Mount Waternomee, named for a Dartmouth Outing Club notable). Then I visited the two remaining open patches on an old slide - a place on my to-do list for years - and enjoyed good views to the southeast before heading back down along the stream.

The trek began with a 1.3 mi. walk up the Walker Brook logging road from Rt. 118, which is normally used as the access to the unofficial path to the B-18 bomber crash site high on the side of Mt. Waternomee.


 I continued on the overgrown extension of the road across the north branch of Walker Brook, which flows down from the east side of Mt. Waternomee. (Click here for a report on an exploration of the upper part of this brook.)

Not far beyond, I began my bushwhack up along the south branch, through gentle terrain at first.

A nice quiet area out here.

November is a great time for bushwhacking in the hardwood forest.

I alternated picking my way in rougher terrain right along the brook, and in the easier woods a bit up and away from the streambank. In one section I followed what appeared to be an old logging sled road.

In one steep section along the brook I crossed an old mudslide.

I hoped to find some cascades on the south branch, but this stream turned out to be more of a tumbler than a cascader. This was a nice spot, though.

Higher up, where the brook was quite small and split into branches, I wandered off through the woods on the north side. This boulder displayed an especially rich carpet of moss.

This lovely birch glade at 2600 ft. was one of the highlights of the bushwhack.

This was a particularly idyllic spot with the little brook meandering along the edge of the glade.

The best whacking of the day!

A cascade in miniature.

From the glade I followed a hogback with open woods up towards the old Braley slide.

After a bit of wandering around I found the lower of the two open gravelly patches on the slide.

The old slide still offers a fine view to the east and southeast, including Mt. Tecumseh, Sandwich Dome and Elbow Pond.

This is the best view of Elbow Pond I've found. On the horizon in the center is Mt. Shaw in the Ossipees rising above Mt. Israel.

The Tripyramids and Mt. Tecumseh.

Revegetation is underway on this remnant gravelly patch. Most of the slide is cloaked in very dense small spruce.

To reach the upper slide patch at 3060 ft., I bushwhacked up a steep slope next to the slide through surprisingly open woods.

The upper and slightly larger slide patch. I have not been able to date this slide, but it must be fairly old, perhaps from the November 1927 storm or the 1938 Hurricane.

At the upper end there was a ledge suitable for reclining.

Mt. Cushman and sharp-peaked Mt. Kineo, with a bit of Rt. 118 visible.

Heading back down the valley, I passed this boulder displaying various shades of moss.

The whack back was almost entirely through hardwoods.

After winding down a steep leafy slope, I came by this spot where the brook dances down through the rocks.