BUSHWHACK TO ZEM ZEM: 12/19/14
On a cloudy morning I enjoyed a sweet snowshoe bushwhack up along a steep tributary to Lost River on the north slope of Mt. Waternomee. I'd explored this area three times last summer, twice with fellow Kinsman Notch enthusiast Erin Paul Donovan. I was anxious to see what two major attractions on this route - the "Waternomee Waterslide" and the "Zem Zem Glades" - would look like in winter.
I started at a pulloff on Rt. 112 and whacked up through snowy woods. The 12-16" of snow was soft at the start, but became more supportive with a firm crust at times as I climbed higher up the slope.
Overall, the off-trail snowshoeing has been great so far this season in Kinsman Notch.
A pretty scene along the nameless brook.
One of several muffled cascades on the approach to the waterslide.
After an hour of trail-breaking, I emerged above the pool at the base of the waterslide.
Looking up the waterslide from the pool. This open ledgy swath ascends more than 100 feet in elevation.
The buried brook below the waterslide.
It was great fun 'shoeing up this hardpacked snowy highway.
Looking back down to the pool.
The icy cascade at the top.
The view down the waterslide from the upper end. It looked like a downhill ski trail, and would indeed make an interesting if short run for backcountry enthusiasts.
Ice formations along the edge.
I went partway back down the waterslide to a point where I could exit into the woods, then whacked up past its top and along the brook above, passing this yellow birch leaner.
Farther up was a favorite cascade, frozen and smothered in snow.
After a steep push through the woods, I emerged atop the cascade.
Looking upstream, I saw the form of a wandering turtle. Friends who have viewed this photo have seen a rabbit, or a bird emerging from the snow. Could be all of the above!
The gateway to the Zem Zem Glades.
Amidst some gorgeous birch and hardwood glades is this cryptic sign, which Erin Donovan and I stumbled upon last summer. We thought it was perhaps placed by an adventurous backwoods skier. A Google search reveals that the name "Zem Zem" is sometimes associated with the Shriners, a fraternal organization affiliated with the Masons.
The glade below the sign.
The sign is placed along a century-old logging sled road.
Heading up the slope through the glades.
Open woods with powder atop crust = snowshoeing nirvana.
It felt like being in The Kilkenny - with a much shorter drive!
A wonderful place for winter wandering...
It was tempting to continue farther up the slope to an upper birch glade, but it was time to head back and open the store for the afternoon.
Following my tracks back down through the glades.
Back down on the waterslide, the peak above the Dilly Cliffs had emerged from the clouds.
Parting shot up the waterslide.
Pushing through hobblebush on the descent. The rewards were well worth a few whacks from the branches!