Friday, June 23, 2017


KILKENNY PONDS: 6/22/17

My brother Drew and I hiked the Unknown Pond Trail from Mill Brook Road to picturesque Unknown Pond, then bushwhacked from the Kilkenny Ridge Trail to a small pond informally known as Bishop's Pond. This had special relevance for my brother, as noted in the photo captions below.

This is the shorter route to Unknown Pond, from a quiet, remote trailhead accessed by a good gravel road.




The first mile is mellow through hardwood forest.


A little more than a mile in, the Unknown Pond Trail passes this post marking the Stark/Kilkenny town line and soon begins a steady climb.


A wet, ferny swale at the base of the climb.


The upper half of the trail passes through a gorgeous white birch forest that filled in after the big Kilkenny fire of 1903.


The birches go on and on - a vast gleaming glade.


The shore of Unknown Pond, with its watery vista to the shapely peak of The Horn, is one of the most peaceful places in the Whites. This spot is reached by a side path near the eastern of the two junctions of the Unknown Pond and Kilkenny Ridge Trails. Most of the shore is marked as Revegetation Areas due to impact from previous camping overuse. There is now an established tentsite area with five tent pads.



A zoom on The Horn. A White-Throated Sparrow sang frequently as we gazed at the view.


Drew relaxing on the shore. The only downside was the swarm of mosquitoes that descended whenever the nice breeze slackened.



Around the corner another side path leads to a different perspective on the pond and The Horn. Here we chatted with Nicole Tewksbury and Carol Gillen from Lincoln, who were day-hiking the pond and The Horn from their tentsite at Rogers Ledge Campsite.


Beautiful skies today.


We headed along the Kilkenny Ridge Trail to launch our bushwhack to Bishop's Pond.


At the sag between Unknown Pond and The Horn, we encountered a trail crew from the WMNF Androscoggin Ranger District. They were just finishing up a new set of bog bridges across this wet area.


The crew consisted of (L to R) Declan Scannell, Dan Annunziato, and David Cronin. In addition to building the bog bridges, they had cleared blowdowns, cleaned drainages and done some brushing on the hike in. Thanks for your great work!

Drew checks his GPS along the bushwhack.


In due time we arrived at Bishop's Pond, tucked into a little pocket at the base of The Horn.


As noted, this place has special significance for Drew, a retired Bishop from The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut. One of the greatest enthusiasts of The Kilkenny was the Rt. Rev. Robert McConnell Hatch, an Episcopal Bishop from Connecticut and later Massachusetts, who roamed this area frequently with his friend Jack Farr. For the December 1956 issue of Appalachia, Bishop Hatch wrote a lyrical essay, "A Lean-To in the Mountains," about an exploration he and his friend made in search of a small, remote pond at the base of a ledge-capped peak. When they at last reached their objective, they "stood motionless and gazed at the pond. For a long time neither of us could speak, and when we finally did it was in a whisper. Never in our lives had we been in a place of such wild and breath-taking beauty."
In his honor, the tiny tarn was unofficially named the "Bishop's Pond." Bishop Hatch, who passed away in 2009 at the age of 99, was a friend of Drew's. So it had special meaning to bring my brother, the bishop, to Bishop's Pond.


Birches and ferns behind the outlet to the pond. What a beautiful area!


Drew bushwhacks through a fern glade on the way back from Bishop's Pond.


Descending the Unknown Pond Trail through birches and ferns.


Friday, June 16, 2017

TRIPYRAMIDS LOOP: 6/14/17

On a gorgeous June day I made a leisurely loop over the Tripyramids, up the South Slide and down the Scaur Ridge Trail. The 12-mile trek featured cascades, beautiful woods, great views and ravenous hordes of black flies.

On the way up Livermore Trail I made a short side whack out to the site of the old Swazeytown Dam on Slide Brook. Timbers from the old log driving dam can still be seen in the water.




This old postcard shows the view of Tripyramid from Swazeytown during the log-driving era nearly a century ago.




A present-day beaver pond near the Swazeytown site. No mountain views from here.


I made another short side trip on the Norway Rapids Trail to the scenic Norway Rapids.


This pretty spot beside the Livermore Trail has recently been named the White Cascade by a local hiker, due to its light-colored ledges.


Along the Livermore Trail.


When I saw this truck parked by the start of the south end of the Mount Tripyramid Trail, I knew Dan Newton - President of the WVAIA - was in doing several days of trail work as an employee of OBP Trailworks, a professional trail building firm headquartered in Maine. OBP Trailworks has done much fine trail work in the Whites, including construction of the scenic Irene's Path in Waterville Valley.



Starting the loop.



Heading into the Wilderness after hopping stones across Avalanche Brook.


I always stop for a break at this small mossy cascade.


Black Cascade, named for its dark gabbro rock. After stopping here, I had visited all three of the Waterville Valley "color" cascades in the past week: Green Cascade, White Cascade and Black Cascade.


I saw much evidence of Dan Newton's good drainage cleaning work as I ascended the trail.


Axe work by Dan.



This gorgeous hardwood glade adorns the slope just below the South Slide, at 2900 ft.


Climbing up the outwash at the foot of the slide.


Breaking into the open under skies of blue.


First views looking back at Sandwich Dome.


A scramble ahead.


Going up!


Breaking out onto the upper open part of the slide.


Up by the Kate Sleeper Trail junction is one of my favorite vistas - a sweep of remote country leading out towards Sandwich Dome and Lost Pass.


Zoom on the wild Lost Pass area.


The long SW arm of East Sleeper, a wild, remote ridge that is presumably seldom traversed.


Arrows painted on ledge mark the junction with Kate Sleeper Trail.


The view is even more dramatic from the very top of the slide.


A hiker descends the South Slide, having ascended via the North Slide, where there is, sadly, a moose carcass.


Heading up towards the South Peak.


A short bushwhack earned me this unique view of the Sleepers and Mt. Whiteface.



A glimpse of Middle and North Peaks while descending off South Peak.


Cool rock overhang on the way up Middle Peak.


A rock portal leads to the summit of Middle Peak.


Mt. Chocorua and Mt. Passaconaway from the east outlook on Middle Peak.



Tecumseh, Moosilauke and Osceola from the west outlook on Middle Peak.


Dan Newton and his helper, Friday, came by as I was lounging at the west outlook, having patrolled the trail across to North Peak. Despite the swarming black flies, we hung out for a long chat. Dan was camped below the South Slide and planned to work on the Kate Sleeper Trail the next day. Thanks for your good work, Dan!


A nifty, slightly off-trail view down into the Sabbaday Brook valley.


An easy ridge meander up towards North Peak.


The wooded summit of North Peak.


I chanced upon an off-trail viewpoint with a unique look back at the Middle and South Peaks.



A wild scene looking across at Sandwich Dome.


North to the Franconia Range.


There is a decent standing NE view on a short side path at the summit of North Peak.



The upper Pine Bend Brook Trail is kinda nasty.



The easy section along the narrow Scaur Ridge is, on the other hand, delightful.


Cool multi-trunk tree just before the Scaur Ridge Trail junction.


Just past this tree a well-worn path leads through hobblebush thickets to a northerly vista.


Neat canopy along the mellow Scaur Ridge Trail.



A peek at the North Slide.


The Livermore Trail passes the site of Avalanche Camp , a logging camp in use during the 1930s/1940s,