SLIDE RAVINE: 9/18/14
One of the several interesting ravines on Mount Moosilauke is Slide Ravine on the SW side of the summit. This high, steep basin is scarred by a series of old landslides and is drained by the appropriately named Slide Brook. On two previous bushwhacks I had visited the largest slide in the ravine, the one seen on the right (south) side in the Google Earth image below. On last year's visit I had also hoped to check out the largest slide on the left (north) side of the ravine, but due to a navigational miscue and lack of time I didn't make it.
I decided a return to Slide Ravine would be in order to see the north-side slide, and to re-visit some fine cascades along Slide Brook. I was delighted when my bushwhacking friend John "1HappyHiker" Compton agreed to join me in exploring some territory that would be new for him.
We set off on the Tunnel Brook Trail around 8:20 am and set a steady pace up this very pleasant route.
Along the way we spotted this interesting survey marker.
It's always worth a brief stop for a look at the Glencliff Home reservoir about a mile up the trail.
There is much fine hardwood forest in the lower Slide Brook valley.
In an hour and a quarter we reached peaceful Mud Pond at the south end of Tunnel Brook Notch, the deep gap between Mount Moosilauke and Mount Clough, one of my favorite places in the White Mountains. The upper Moosilauke ridges were socked in, but we could see the big southern slide in Slide Ravine and hoped the clouds wouldn't drop any lower.
Shown below is a closeup of the big slide. We've wondered if this was the slide referred to in Moses Sweetser's classic late 1800s guidebook, The White Mountains: A Handbook for Travellers:
"On the W slope of Moosilauke, about 1/2 M. from the hotel, is the head of a great slide, about 2,000 ft. long, at an angle of about 40 degrees, and with a width of 15 to 50 ft. A path has recently been constructed from the Prospect House to this point. "
Another possible reference is found in longtime North Country resident William Morse's memoir A Mix of Years. When Morse was in his early teens his parents ran the Moosilauke Summit House for three summers, from 1915-1917. Among the adventures he and his faithful dog had on the mountain was the following:
"I remember a day when we went down the West Slide. From the top we could look down and see the roof of an old abandoned logging camp on Slide Brook. So, we went down to investigate, and we had a devil of a time getting back. The slide was so steep and rough that we were unable to return the way we went down, and we had to find another way home."
Heading up the Slide Brook valley from Mud Pond, we bushwhacked through open hardwoods up to about 2400 ft.
Then we cut over into darker woods along the brook to see some of its cascades. The flow was surprisingly strong for a very dry season.
This is one of my favorite Moosilauke cascades.
Higher in the valley, Slide Brook dances over the ledges.
Last year I'd come upon this weedy flat area and thought it might be the site of an old logging camp - perhaps the one spotted by the young William Morse from the slide. John and I poked around for a few minutes but found no artifacts. There is definitely the trace of an old logging sled road leading away from here.
At 3000 ft. we passed the base of the track that leads up to the big slide, marked by a solitary cairn, left by some previous adventurer into Slide Ravine. I've heard that backcountry skiers occasionally make a run down the slide.
Above here the terrain got steeper and the woods thicker. Here Slide Brook tumbles down a succession of ledgy cascades.
We stopped to admire this high, wild spot.
After some steep climbing through dense conifers, and a brief stint an an overgrown old slide track, we emerged on this dry rocky brookbed, which our research indicated would lead us up to the base of the north-side slide. We were puzzled that what looked to be the main watercourse was bone-dry; below here the flow of Slide Brook came in from another watercourse on the right.
This was our highway to the open swath of the slide.
Starting up the slide.
The bottom part of the slide is revegetating with small conifers and birches.
A ledge band partway up the slide.
One of the few patches of blue we saw on this cloudy day.
A white pine is among the slide colonizers.
Continuing up, looking for a comfortable perch for lunch.
Looking up towards the top of the slide.
View across to the South Peak of Moosilauke and the big slide on the south side of the ravine.
A closer look at the big slide.
Two weeks earlier, from the South Peak, I had taken this photo of the slide we were on today.
A boot shot, of course!
Great spot for lunch.
The clouds part, revealing Smarts Mountain and Mount Cube.
John takes a parting shot.
Descending into the fog.
A ledge wall which forced us to abandon the dry brookbed below the slide.
A begoggled John in the thick of it! In this tight forest I wore my goggles as well.
Looking back at the wild upper reaches of Slide Brook, an area we will remember.