MOUNT WEETAMOO: 4/6/16
Mark Klim and I enjoyed a very interesting bushwhack to the highest summit in the trailless Campton Range on the southern frontier of the WMNF. After 30+ years of bushwhacking across the Whites, this was my first visit to the Campton Range, which is pretty close to home. Guess it was always just under the radar. Thanks to Mark for the suggestion after he read about it in the old Sweetser's guide.
The evening before I scouted out our route from a ledge on Dickey Mountain. Mount Weetamoo is the summit on the right; East Weetamoo is on the left. Our route would ascend from the inner bowl-like valley of Chickenboro Brook to the col between the Weetamoos.
Based on a couple of trip reports on the web (Weetamoo and its spur, East Weetamoo, are "300 Highest of New Hampshire" peaks), we approached via the gated USFS Chickenboro Rd. off Sandwich Notch Rd. This provided a pleasant mile-long warmup.
From a bend in the road we whacked downhill through open hardwoods to a beaver meadow at the head of Chickenboro Brook.
The meadow was a very scenic spot. From its north end we enjoyed views of Mount Weetamoo and adjacent ridges.
As we made our way through rough terrain along the east side of the meadow, Mark spotted a big old log that allowed us to walk a little ways out into the frozen wetland.
There's still a bit of water at the south end of the meadow.
On the rough slope above the meadow is a wild jumble of boulders and caves.
Early April's "second winter" had refrozen this tributary of Chickenboro Brook.
We made a long ascent up a slope through endless hardwood forest.
Along the way we crossed several more small brooks.
Higher up the cover from the recent snow dusting was pretty consistent on this north-facing slope.
We came upon some fresh moose tracks.....
....and then a recently occupied moose bed.
We sidehilled up and across the slope. The footing was slippery in the thin snow cover.
We decided to head directly up into the spruces, even though we were a little east of the col we were aiming for.
We emerged on the ridgecrest in this glade of gnarled old beeches. We had a moose sighting here.
With the woods up here, it was love at first sight!
We moved slowly through this fairyland forest.
A mountain meadow with Mount Weetamoo in sight ahead. (To minimize impact, we walked around the lichens.)
The broad hardwood col on the east side of Mount Weetamoo.
A magnificent solitary spruce.
Lunch break in another little meadow.
Battered old yellow birches. Perhaps their tops were snapped off during the 1998 ice storm.
Heading up towards Weetamoo through more meadows.
Our favorite spot of the day, totally unexpected - a spacious open meadow of fallen ferns high on the mountainside.
The moose like this spot, as well.
Mark checks out the view from the top of the meadow.
The Ossipees in the distance beyond the Squam Range.
A peek at Sandwich Dome to the NE.
We visited this ledge on the eastern sub-peak.
The northern views here are mostly obscured, though we got this peek at Black Mountain, Mount Kancamagus, Mount Carrigain and the tip of Mount Washington just peering over.
Cannon Mountain seen through the "V."
In the late 1800s Mount Weetamoo was a favorite destination for trampers staying at hostelries in nearby Campton. Around 1874, Charles E. Fay (soon to become a founder and president of the AMC) and a Mr. Anthony from Providence, RI, discovered the potential of the mountain as a viewpoint. They built a path up from the Robey farm high in the Chickenboro Brook drainage, and cleared the views at the summit. Moses Sweetser's classic 1876 guidebook to the White Mountains devoted two pages to Mount Weetamoo, with a description of the path and detailed account of the view. In 1879, as reprinted in the book Mountain Summers (edited by Peter Rowan and June Hammond Rowan), stalwart AMC tramper Marian Pychowska wrote that "The top of Weetamoo is very picturesque with its fine rock and the growth of spruces, and mountain ash covered with scarlet berries." The path up Weetamoo was abandoned before it could make an appearance in the AMC White Mountain Guide, but the summit remains ledgy and partly open, with restricted views. The photo below shows Stinson Mountain to the west.
Dickey Mountain can be glimpsed to the north through a gap in the branches, with Scar Ridge beyond.
Mount Tecumseh and its high spurs.
The first page of the summit register explains why there is a register.
We searched out a magnificent clifftop outlook at the south edge of the summit plateau, with views stretching all the way to Mount Monadnock.
A serious dropoff in front!
Darkly wooded Campton Mountain anchors the west end of the Campton Range.
The south half of the Squam Range is seen across the Beebe River valley. Much of the land in the foreground is part of a 5,435-acre tract purchased by the Conservation Fund in 2014, ensuring that it will remain open for public recreation. The actual summit of Weetamoo is within this tract.
From a nearby ledge the view expanded a bit more to the north along the Squam Range, with Red Hill in back on the left.
A side view of the cliffs.
On the return trip we crossed a small frozen bog in between the summit knobs.
Back at the fern meadow, we paused to admire the scene under increasingly gray skies.
Wonderful old trees on this ridge.
Back to the col between the Weetamoos.
We descended north from here, enjoying great open woods.
A yellow birch twister.
Hardwood heaven north of the col.
A fallen giant.
We followed a trace of an old woods road for the final descent to the floor of the valley.
Spooky woods on the broad plateau at the head of Chickenboro Brook.
Where spruces go to die.
We crossed Chickenboro Brook at a pretty little beaver meadow.
Mark checks out an ancient beaver dam. What an interesting area!