After morning snow squalls, it cleared off beautifully for an afternoon bushwhack to a cliff on a western spur of Kinsman Ridge overlooking the valley of Underhill Brook. The photo below, taken last winter, shows the cliff as seen from a viewpoint across the valley, with Mt. Wolf beyond.
I had been to the cliff on an early summer evening bushwhack in 2002, when the black flies were swarming. On today's trip (when the absence of black flies was guaranteed) I had a little more time for the trek, and chose a different route, starting at the WMNF Wildwood Campground. This route worked out exceedingly well, with open hardwoods right from the start and continuing for ninety percent of the journey. I didn't touch a spruce branch until I was within 0.2 mile of the cliff.
On the lower slopes I crossed several old logging roads.
It doesn't get more open than this!
An icy ledge in the midst of the forest.
An old bear tree.
Appropriately, I soon came upon some bear tracks in the crunchy snow.
A natural sculpture, kind of like a giant Hershey Kiss.
Great yellow birches, reaching for the sky.
A tiny stream in a high valley.
An inner sanctum hardwood glade, on a shelf at 2400 ft.
I crossed a forlorn and nameless brook en route to the cliff.
Reaching the cliff, I enjoyed a nice view of the blue ridges of Mts. Blue, Jim and Waternomee. It was difficult to take photos looking into the low December sun. But it was comparatively warm on my small south-facing ledge perch.
Looking down at the upper Underhill Brook valley.
Looking down the Underhill Brook valley.
Relaxing for a while in the sun.
A peek at a Kinsman Ridge summit from the upper ledge band.
In these mixed woods the snow was 8 inches deep. It was the only part of the trip where the snowshoes would have been handy.
Cold light late on a December afternoon.
Peering up at one of the towering yellow birches.
Following my tracks down into a hint of a sunset.