WATERFALLS ON WATERNOMEE: 7/24 & 7/25/14
This week I had the chance to do two off-trail explorations on brooks plunging down the slopes of Mt. Waternomee, a 3940-ft. peak on the long ridge that curves eastward from Mt. Moosilauke. Like several other streams on the slopes of the Moosilauke massif, these are richly rewarding with cascades.
On Thursday morning, based on a tip from a fellow Kinsman Notch enthusiast (thanks, Erin!), I explored up along a tributary of Lost River. For a ways above a near-roadside cascade, the tributary was just a basic rocky mountain stream.
Then some small, attractive cascades began appearing.
The brookbed became ledgier, looking promising.
With an inch of rain the previous night, the water flow was better than it had been in recent weeks.
There was an interesting table-like ledge formation below this cascade.
Then I came to the base of this big and beautiful waterslide, which slithers down through the slabs for a hundred feet of elevation. There were rock seats by the pool suitable for admiring the scene.
View from the seat.
Zooming in a bit.
I made my way up along the edge.
Above the waterslide and around a bend in the stream was another attractive cascade.
View of the cascade from a convenient rock seat.
Looking back down the brook.
Returning beside slabs on the waterslide.
Part of the Lost River cliffs could be glimpsed from the middle of the streambed.
Some nice hardwood whacking on the way down.
Lost River cliffs from a (leach?) field down near Rt. 112.
The next afternoon, while Carol kindly watched the store, I went on a longer bushwhack looking for potential big cascades on the north branch of Walker Brook. Several times I've noticed this drop high on the eastern flank of Mt. Waternomee from the shore of Elbow Pond.
I went partway up the well-trodden route to the B-18 bomber crash site to launch the bushwhack, starting with the Walker Brook logging road. Here a bit of Mt. Waternomee can be seen looming ahead.
Erosion from the seven-inch rainfall in late June.
Pleasant walking under a hardwood canopy.
The bomber crash path crosses the north branch of Walker Brook, which I would rejoin nearly a thousand feet higher.
The path provides a glimpse of a cascade sometimes called Airmen's Falls, in honor of the crew of the B-18. In May of 2013 I visited the bomber crash site.
The whack started out in open hardwoods, but the rest of it was not easy. Maybe it seemed a little worse because it was late afternoon and I was feeling a bit pressed for time.
After whacking up and across a rough slope, I carefully picked out a steep route down to the brook to some nice cascades at 2450 ft.
I worked my way steeply upstream, sometimes on the rocks of the brookbed, other times in the dense woods along the edge.
An intimate view while scrambling up the brookbed.
Looking down the brook.
Nice mossy ledge.
At around 2600 ft. I came to the base of the big upper drop, the part visible from Elbow Pond, where the brook cascades down through a gigantic sluice. If this impressive formation were on a trail, it would probably have a name and be a popular destination.
A wider view of the ledges.
A closer look at the upper cascade. This would have been quite a spectacle after the 7" rainstorm. I saw many places that were scoured out along the edge of the brookbed.
A tumble of rocks below.
Above the base of the great sluice, the terrain was cliffy and impossibly rough on the south side of the brook. So I clambered up through the ridiculously steep but doable woods on the north side. I ended up high above the top of the sluice. There was no way to get down there safely to catch the view out to the east.
I was able to squeeze down to the brink for one look at Elbow Pond through the trees, though the air was amazingly hazy. I later learned that the haze was due to forest fires in western Canada.
A look out to the long ridge of Green Mountain, an eastern satellite of Mt. Cushman.
I did not want to descend the steep, rough terrain I'd come up through, so I pushed upward another 100 feet in elevation until the pitch eased off a bit at 2850 ft. Here I was able to cross back over the brook as it issues from the upper slopes of Mt. Waternomee. The total height of the series of cascades was about 400 ft.
After bobbing and weaving my way down through some dark conifer woods, I was delighted to find an old tote road, presumably from the early 1900s, angling southward down and across the slope. I soon plopped down in the ferns for a much-needed break. Steep bushwhacking is thirsty work!
I followed this tote road for a half-mile across the slope, through some lovely birch-and-fern glades, and reached the bomber crash path a ways below the crash site. This wonderful route spared me from some rough downward whacking and enabled me to get back to the car with some daylight to spare, carrying fresh memories of some impressively rugged terrain on the slopes of Waternomee.