Wednesday, August 14, 2013


I like to undertake at least one long ramble into the Pemi Wilderness each summer, and with Carol generously covering the store for me, today was the day. The plan was for a ramble along the East Branch followed by a bushwhack to some cliffs overlooking the Cedar Brook valley, which I had first visited back in 1997. I rode my mountain bike in (except for walking up two hills!) the first 2.9 mi. on the East Side Trail, to the gate at the Wilderness boundary. It's a rougher ride than it used to be, thanks to several areas washed out by Tropical Storm Irene.

Before heading out on my hike into the Cedar Brook area, I checked out the crossing of the East Branch near the gate. I watched a hiker cross the river, wading up to his thighs in places. He dropped his pack and came back across, intending to take his wife and two young kids across it to go to Franconia Falls. As I found out later, thankfully they thought better of it and went to pools along the East Side Trail instead.

Welcome to the Pemi!

The first of several beauty spots I visited along the East Branch was the Ranger's Pool.

This spot doesn't get a fraction of the traffic seen at Franconia Falls.

A bit farther along the trail are these fine ledge slabs.

A short bushwhack earned me this view of Bondcliff and its sharp southern spur.

I did a little exploring along the lower end of Cedar Brook, passing this spot with damage from Tropical Storm Irene.

Wonderful easy walking on the East Side Trail. Hard to imagine this as a busy truck logging road in the 1940s.

Another favorite spot along the river.

Beautiful open woods on an island in the stream.

The premier backcountry stream in the Whites.

Old mossy stump.

A northern spur of Mt. Hancock looms above the river.

More fine cruising on the East Side Trail.

Big Rock and Mt. Flume.

Rocky riverbed.

I went a little way up Cedar Brook Trail before starting my whack, which was in open hardwoods for the lower part.

Then the woods got thicker with plenty of blowdown.

From the northern end of the cliffs, a view of Owl's Head and Mts. Lincoln & Lafayette.

Looking south from the northernmost crag.

Things were pretty ugly and prickly in the woods behind the cliffs. Wearing shorts (duh!), I picked up some pretty good scratches. At one spot I had to resort to an undignified crawl under some blowdown.

The view up the Cedar Brook valley was as good as I remembered from my visit 16 years ago.

An interesting fractured crag.

The South, Middle (main) and North Peaks of Mt. Hitchcock.

From a nice ledge perch, looking towards Whaleback Mountain and Mts. Flume and Liberty.

Good spot for a boot shot.

From the southern end of the cliffs, Mts. Flume, Liberty and Little Haystack.

North Hitchcock is quite a cone from this angle.

Four Hitchcock peaks in one photo, including East Hitchcock on the L.

A good dropoff in front.

Back at the north end of the cliffs, an end-to-end view of the Franconia Range.

After whacking back down, railroad grade walking on the Cedar Brook Trail. This valley was logged by the Parker-Young Company mainly in the 1930s and 1940s.

Crossing of Cedar Brook on the East Side Trail.

Neat slabs on the East Branch, Whaleback in the distance.

Another angle on the slabs. Many great spots through here.

An Irene-created view of Mt. Flume from a high bank - caution required, as it is severely undercut. A great day rambling in the Pemi, with lots of variety.


  1. Very impressive wanderings, Steve, and in true-keeping with your namesake of the 'Mountain Wanderer'. The views that you got of the Franconia Range and the Hitchcocks were very unique, and were well worth the scratches to your bare legs, and any undignified crawling under a patch of thick blowdowns!


    1. Thank you, John - it was indeed worth the scratches and belly-crawl!


  2. What a great spot Steve. Definitely worth a couple scratches. I've only hiked the East Side Trail once and loved it. You don't here much mention of it in hiking reports and views along it are fantastic.

    Thanks for sharing,

    1. Thanks, Joe - that's a great remote area out there.