Wednesday, February 5, 2014


On a perfect winter day - sunny, in the 20s, lots of powder snow - I joined fellow bushwhacking enthusiasts John "1HappyHiker" Compton and Chris "NeoAkela" Whiton for a memorable snowshoe adventure into Jobildunk Ravine, the wild glacial cirque on the NE side of Mt. Moosilauke. I'd been up through this ravine once in summer, back in 1990, and looked forward to seeing it in its midwinter garb, with the beaver ponds on its floor frozen and the ice cliffs fully formed on its headwall.

We set off up the Ravine Lodge Road at about 8:30 am.

 At the Al Merrill kiosk, just beyond the end of the road, there are two interesting sights. On the R is an opening which, according to the Dartmouth Outing Guide, was the site of a rope tow when skiing was a primary activity at the Ravine Lodge. The rope tow was in operation from 1949-1953. 

Here there's also a view up to the summit ridge of Mt. Moosilauke rising above the Gorge Brook ravine.

The Asquam-Ridge Trail continues ahead from the kiosk, following a logging road built by the Parker-Young Co. in 1943.

Continuing up the W side of the Baker River valley after crossing on a bridge.

The Baker River, buried in snow and ice.

Crossing back over the river, 1.5 mi. from the end of Ravine Lodge Rd.

After searching for a while we picked up the route of the old DOC Asquamchumauke Trail (opened in 1949 and abandoned around 1973) and followed it quite a ways into the valley, with some deviations.

Along the way we saw this unusual trail marker in the traditional orange-and-black colors of the Dartmouth Outing Club.

An obvious part of the old trail. Other sections were obscure, overgrown and difficult to follow in the snow. This old route is too wet for summer use, which is why it was abandoned.

An old pail beside the abandoned trail. Veteran DOCer Dave Metsky said this is a relic from the old Jobildunc Cabin, which was built near here in 1931. It was more or less abandoned after the 1938 hurricane. I saw its collapsed remains on my trip through here in 1990.

The only DOC blaze we saw along the old route.

Deep into the cirque we lost the old trail for good, and were now bushwhacking through deep, soft snow. There were some nice open woods, but we did bust through one very thick, snow-draped section of young conifers.

One of the most interesting parts of our route followed along the frozen bed of the Baker River, starting here.

The river provided an open passage through some dense conifer areas, and our first glimpse up to the Jobildunk headwall.

Back into open conifers on the floor of the cirque.

In one open area the snow was the deepest we've seen all winter.

Approaching the first of two beaver ponds we wanted to visit.

A gorgeous, remote spot under deep blue skies.

Chris and John take in the view from atop an old beaver dam.

Heading across the dam to do some more exploring.

Looking back across the beaver pond.

The second beaver pond gave us a more open view up to the headwall and its impressive ice cliffs.

These ice flows are occasionally scaled by adventurous climbers, but it's a LONG way in, and even more so with the deep soft snow. This is a day trip area only, as this is Dartmouth College land and camping is not allowed.

A zoom on the largest ice cliff, a massive rock slab in summer.

A great place to hang out for a while on a fine winter day.

John and Chris taking it in.

Returning back along the first beaver pond, with the SE ridge of Moosilauke in the background.

Snow-draped conifers line our route along the bed of the Baker River.

Along the riverbed, heading for home.


  1. Gorgeous photos, Steve, and thank you for the report. (Maybe you mapping out this trip when we dropped by the book store on Sunday afternoon?) Is the strategy of following a frozen river or brook one that you regularly employ during winter bushwacks?

    1. Thanks, Steve. I may have been scouting it when you stopped by. Following the frozen river was really happenstance, and it proved to be a fine route through some potentially thick areas. Plus we knew it would lead to at least one of the beaver ponds. The ice was mostly solid, though Chris, who was leading the way, did punch through the ice in one spot. On one trip last winter a frozen brook provided a great open route up to the base of two slides on Mt. Osceola.


  2. Hi Steve,

    As already communicated to you following our great adventure, it was an honor and a pleasure to join up with legendary hikers such as you and Chris.

    You have the skill and experience to formulate many unique explorations such as this, and it was terrific to be included in this one. It unquestionably fulfilled my passion for doing something different on my hikes, as often as time and circumstances permit.


    1. Hi John,

      It was great to join you and Chris for this very rewarding snowshoe adventure. You've been to so many interesting and unusual places, I'm delighted you got to experience a new one. Looking forward to our next adventure.


  3. I've enjoyed reading many of your report as of late Steve. Jobildunk Ravine looks like an awesome spot. My Garmin GPS maps have the Asquamchumauke Ridge Tr. on them. Looks like it left the Asquam Ridge Trail, went up the ravine and continued up the head-wall connecting with the Beaver Brook Tr. Here's a link to a screen shot of it if interested. Just copy and paste in browser.

    I really liked that knob in the East Kinsman Notch Bog. The day I day the Monkey Cliffs I was searching for a view of Franconia Ridge. Which I'd spotted that Knob and Ledges on G.E. prior.

    You've been covering that general area pretty extensively lately.

    Thanks for sharing all the great reports and photos,

    1. Thanks for your comments and the link, Joe. Jobildunk really is a neat spot. It would be interesting to see how much of the old trail could be followed up the side of the ravine.

      There sure are lots of good ledges to explore in the Kinsman Notch area. I still have a few more on my list.

      Looks like you had a great adventure on Hale the other day. I always like to say that Hale has many great viewpoints; it just happens that the summit ain't one of them.


  4. Missed the cabin!