Thursday, April 16, 2015


I had a glorious spring day for this classic ledgy 4.4 mile loop near Waterville Valley. It was a typical mixed bag of April conditions with plenty of ice, mud down low and posthole snow up high (more of these than I expected), and lots of sun-warmed bare ledge.

The first mile on the Dickey side of the loop was hardwood forest with bare ground!

This ice flow below the first outlook ledge is one of the last spots to melt.

It was great to emerge on the first ledge - the top of the impressive Dickey Cliff - in the strong spring sun

Looking down along the top of the Dickey Cliff. Great distant visibility today.

Looking up at the summits of Dickey and Welch.

The mysterious stone circle on the next ledge up the ridge.

I stopped for a lunch break a bit farther up, gazing west to Mount Moosilauke.

The vast slab on Dickey's south face.

Nearing the summit of Dickey, where there was deep, soft, postholed snow around a rotting monorail, I admired this view of Mount Wolf, the Kinsmans and Cannon, with Fisher Mountain in front.

To the west, Mount Moosilauke reigns supreme. Note the prominent ice cliffs on the headwall of Jobildunk Ravine.

At the summit of Dickey (2734 ft.), you look north to the many wild spurs of the Mount Tecumseh range.

Several peaks in the Sandwich Range sprawl off to the east: Scaur Peak, the Tripyramids, the Sleepers and Mount Whiteface.

A closer view of the Tripyramids and Sleepers. It was surprising to see the South Slide still snow-covered after a string of warm sunny days.

Sandwich Dome and its wide-spreading spurs.

Looking across at Welch with the Lakes Region beyond.

The "Tricky Dickey" pitch descending towards the col, near a geocache of that name.

Another look at Welch, quite a nubble from this angle.

In the Dickey-Welch col.

Layered slabs heading up Welch.

Soft-snow postholes are one of the "joys" of April hiking.

Looking back at Dickey, with Tecumseh to the right.

View of Sandwich from the brink of a cliff.

The summit of Welch (2605 ft.) commands a wide view to the west and a good look down into the bowl enclosed by these two mountains.

Welch is one of the few places in the Whites with a colony of the rare (in New Hampshire) jack pine. This one is thriving close to the edge.

There are a number of steep slabs to negotiate while descending off Welch. This is the biggest of the bunch. It's generally recommended to do the loop by climbing Welch first, as these slabs are easier to ascend than descend.

Sandwich rising above Acteon Ridge, one of its prominent spurs.

The summit of Welch seen from the lowest outlook ledge.

Islands of fragile subalpine vegetation are protected with wooden borders.

On the way down I made a detour for some hardwood bushwhacking up into the bowl between Welch and Dickey.

The nameless brook that drains the bowl was in pretty good flow.

It was wonderful to see a free-flowing stream after the long hard winter.

One of several attractive waterslides along the brook. The lower 0.8 mile of the Welch loop was  unpleasantly muddy and icy, so I covered most of that distance bushwhacking through open woods along the west side of the attractive brook, a nice way to end a fine spring day.

Friday, April 10, 2015


On a raw, grey day the forest - featuring hardwood and birch glades galore - was the attraction on this snowshoe bushwhack in familiar territory on the north slope of Mount Waternomee. From 4 to 8 inches of dense new snow atop a solid base made for great 'shoeing. With warm spring weather finally in the forecast, this might have been the last good snowshoe trek of the season.

On this trip, it was open hardwoods right from the start.

On the lower section the Dilly Cliffs were a constant presence across the Notch.

On the way up I visited unofficially-named Pulpit Rock, one of my favorite boulders.

The glades go on forever along these slopes.

Laying down fresh tracks in superb conditions.

A few diminutive spruces are sprinkled among the hardwoods.

A cryptic sign presumably placed by a backcountry skiing enthusiast.


Looking back at Kinsman Ridge.

This hardwood glade is amazingly open and park-like.

The grade of the slope is fairly steep here.

Wonderful gnarled old yellow birches at the top of the glade.

The Zem Zem Glade, on the slope above a sign bearing that name.

A century-old, cross-slope tote road at 2550 ft.

Up here the snow was deeper and softer.

The spot I most wanted to visit was this gorgeous upper glade at 2750 ft., which Erin Paul Donovan and I visited last summer.

This magnificent yellow birch stands guard at the bottom.

One of the real beauty spots in Kinsman Notch.

Since we're on the cusp of seasonal change, I'm including some comparison shots from the same locations late last summer. In that season the glade was lush with ferns, shrubs and wildflowers.

There's a wide, open swath in the upper part of the glade that looks somewhat like the track of a small old slide.

The swath is filled in with shrubbery in summer.

A tree with tentacles.

A solitary balsam fir standing tall and proud.

Sweet snowshoeing!

It will be a while before the snowpack is gone up here.

Winter was still in full form up here.

I continued up to this buried brookbed at 2950 ft.

It's a rocky swath in summer.

The brook pitches down through this small gorge.

The same spot in early September, when the brook was nearly dry.

I bushwhacked down through fairly dense conifers, where, in contrast to the sun-baked hardwoods and birches, the snow was soft and unconsolidated, and worked my way out to a perch with a view down into a deep gorge. In winter it's a canyon of snow.

The same spot in summer, when it's rocky, rugged and slippery.

Following another old logging road back down the slope.

The logging road in summer, looking uphill.

Swooping down through hardwood heaven.

Another peek at the Dilly Cliffs.

An upper Pulpit Rock, a hundred feet in elevation above the other one.

Woody's been busy here. The only bird I saw during this four-hour ramble was a solitary Brown Creeper. But in a few weeks these woods will be free of snow and flooded with songbirds - yay!