ELBOW POND: 6/6/14 & 6/8/14
Took two morning birding walks to this large pond in Woodstock, which is really two ponds in one. Normally you can drive in to the northern arm of the pond on Elbow Pond Rd. (FR 156, once part of the early 1900s Gordon Pond logging railroad), but it's still gated due to a small washout, so it's an easy 1.2 mile walk each way. The rounded southern part of the pond can be accessed only by a combination of old roads and paths, with some bushwhacking necessary. Tallied 48 bird species between the two walks; checklists can be seen on ebird.org.
The road ends at a boat launch on the north end of the pond.
From there I followed a fisherman's path south along the east shore, passing this waterfront ledge.
A fine patch of ladyslippers.
A stove left over from one of a number of private camps that were situated around the pond before the area was added to the National Forest in the 1970s. Not quite yet an historic artifact.
Nature is reclaiming the camp sites.
Clouds kiss the top of Mt. Moosilauke's Blue Ridge.
Another former camp location, now a pleasant grassy opening.
It was sunnier on my second visit to Elbow Pond. This swamp along the road was hopping with birds, including a pair of Alder Flycatchers.
To get to the southern part of the pond, one must first bushwhack about 1/4 mile to bypass this mucky section of an old road.
After whacking through some dense conifers, I appreciated these beautiful ferny woods. Navigation here can be tricky as a large area west of the pond is almost completely flat and there are several vague old roads and paths.
I had to go upstream to find a crossing on rocks over this boggy inlet stream. I heard a Rusty Blackbird singing here.
Natural meadows along the stream.
Mt. Cilley seen across the southern part of the pond from a secluded spot that may have once been a logging camp site. This side of the pond has a wonderful remote feeling. The original settlement of the town of Woodstock (then known as Peeling) in the 1800s was on the north slope of Mt. Cilley.
Looking east across the pond. Mt. Osceola peeks over the treetops.
A clear segment of the old WMNF Elbow Pond Trail, which made a big loop around the pond and was abandoned in the 1950s.
View NW to Mt. Braley and Mt. Waternomee, two peaks on Moosilauke's Blue Ridge.
An old slide on the side of Mt. Braley, outlined by a stripe of dark conifers. It takes a little effort to get out to the south part of the pond, but it's worth it!