BOULDER LOOP TRAIL & BEYOND: 4/7/14
The forecast was typical for this April so far: a cold night with firm snow likely in the morning, then sunny skies and temps near 50 making for mushy spring snow by late morning. With such variable conditions I decided to keep the mileage for today's hike down, and headed over the Kanc to the Boulder Loop Trail, a fun 3-mile loop with a great clifftop viewpoint at the top. I was familiar with some bushwhack ledges above the high point of the trail, and figured the distance to those would be short enough to suffer some snowshoe postholing through wet snow.
As expected, the trail was firm for my 8:45 am start. And there were even some spots of bare ground along the lower part of the trail.
I plodded up to the first outlook (0.8 mile) in Microspikes.
But with the bright spring sun in the hardwoods, the trail was already softening up, so on went the snowshoes.
The trail alternates between hardwoods and hemlocks.
I was up to the ledges by 9:45, admiring the fine view across the Swift River valley to the Sandwich Range.
At the end of the clifftop spur trail....bare rock!
Yay for spring!
Tripyramids, with Hedgehog and Potash in front.
Mt. Chocorua peers over the Sisters behind its many northern "humps and lumps," to borrow a phrase from John "1HappyHiker" Compton.
After a nice long break on the clifftop, I headed off-trail up the slope above the highpoint of Boulder Loop Trail. My first objective was a set of big granite slabs directly above the Boulder Loop cliffs. The snowshoeing was slow in the soft spring snow.
Looking across at Chocorua with the back side of the Boulder Loop cliffs below.
Distant view to the SE with White Ledge on the right.
South Moat peers over the ridge joining Middle Moat (L) and the spur known as Haystack (R), which itself is a neat bushwhack objective.
Next I headed west along the little ridge, over a couple of humps, and down to the prize ledge of the day. I'd been here several times before, but the commanding view across the valley captivated me once again. Bear Mountain rises on the R.
I took off my snowshoes and stayed a while.
Boot shot #2 for the day. No bare rock to sit on here, but a bit of space under a feathery white pine.
I always enjoy studying the mighty Passaconaway.
After a long sojourn, I decided to bushwhack down the "Outback Cliff" ridge (the cliff on its south edge was so named by rock climbers) rather than follow my tracks back to the trail. I knew this would be slow and tedious in the now-mushy snow, and it was.
At least it's mostly open hardwoods along the ridge.
A glimpse down near the edge of the Outback Cliff. There is an open perch along here, but it was too bony to bother going down to with snowshoes on.
A neat weather-beaten oak along the ridge.
More view ledges farther down the ridge.
And just below, yet another fine perch.
Bear Mountain rising behind the Bear Mountain Slab (L) and Rainbow Slabs (R).
One last viewpoint before the final descent to the valley.
More open hardwoods, lots of oak.
At the bottom of the descent I angled down a steep hemlock slope.
On the way back to the trailhead I made a short side trip out to the Swift River, still mostly covered in snow and ice. Big Attitash Mountain can be seen in the distance.
I watched snow bridges crumbling before my eyes - a sign of things to come. Bring on spring!