BREEZY POINT BUSHWHACK: 11/4/13
On a cold, sunny and crisp November day I teamed up with John "1HappyHiker" Compton for a day of exploration along the lower south ridge of Mt. Moosilauke. Our launching point was the scenic Breezy Point trailhead (at the end of Breezy Point Road off Rt. 118), and our objectives included a beaver pond along Merrill Brook and the wooded, trailless peaks of Bald Hill (2397 ft.) and Chokecherry Hill (2971 ft.). We knew there would be few views on this trek, but there was the promise of some fine open woods based on intel provided by bushwhacking friend Keith D'Alessandro.
The open fields of Breezy Point were once home to resort hotels known as Merrill's Mountain Home (1860-1915), the Breezy Point House (1877-1884) and the Moosilauke Inn (1885-1953). The view here includes nearby Carr Mountain.
The Moosilauke Inn was presumably situated on this flat area. Mt. Moosilauke can be seen in the background on the L. This area was added to the WMNF in 1995.
For a mile we followed an old logging road along the slope south of Merrill Brook.
Then we bushwhacked down to the edge of the chain of beaver meadows that ends in a small pond at its west end. Here we had our first peek at Chokecherry Hill.
The pond at the west end was frozen, but still offered a clear view of Chokecherry Hill.
With binoculars we thought we could see a potential viewpoint up there.
Our next objective was Bald Hill, not too far west of the pond. The approach was a gentle climb through wonderfully open woods.
November is a great time of year in the hardwoods.
This was the only ledge we found on Bald Hill, which lost its baldness many years ago.
This little bump appeared to be the high point of the broad, flat summit.
After a bit of searching, we found a small ridgetop bog to the north of the summit; this opening was visible on the Google Earth image of Bald Hill.
Next we followed the gentle, broad ridge leading across from Bald to Chokecherry, winding through scrubby ridgetop beech forest.
At the base of Chokecherry Hill there was an abrupt transition to conifer forest. The going was scrappy for a while, including this area infested with old blowdown.
John contemplates the route on a steeper part of the climb up Chokecherry.
The woods opened up nicely on the upper part of the climb for some fine whacking.
We spent some time thrashing around the blowdown-strewn summit looking for views, with no success, so we worked our way down to a sunny spot on the south side for a late lunch break.
After lunch, we dropped a short distance into these fine woods.
Just below, we entered an upper finger of hardwoods at 2800 ft., where we passed these two remarkable old yellow birches.
Another angle on the old trees.
Another gnarled yellow birch with a mossy backdrop.
Keith D'Alessandro had promised open Catskill-like hardwoods on the south slope of Chokecherry Hill, and we were not disappointed.
These woods were stunning in the late afternoon November sun. We had to stop for a break to savor the scene.
Descending through the hardwoods, with Carr Mountain in the distance.
The gorgeous woods continued well down the slope.
We ended up back by the Merrill Brook beaver pond and skirted along the west shore, where we saw the remains of a crude shelter.
Working our way along a herd path on the shore. Note the old pot hanging from the tree.
Late afternoon sun on Chokecherry Hill.
An old stove in the woods, model No. 9.
Hiking back down the logging road towards the ridge of Mt. Kineo.
Last rays of the sun on Mt. Cushman and Mt. Kineo, from a clearing just above Breezy Point.
Nice view of Mt. Kineo, ending a fine day in the November woods.