FLAT MOUNTAIN POND RAMBLE: 5/20/16
After a 4-mile approach via the Flat Mountain Pond Trail from Whiteface Intervale, I made an interesting bushwhack loop near the north end of Flat Mountain Pond. Highlights included a visit to Hedgehog Camp (Camp 12) of the Beebe River Railroad; birch glades and partial views on a shoulder of East Sleeper; an outstanding clifftop vantage on a shoulder of the northern Flat Mountain; and the beautiful pond itself.
The trail starts from a parking area off Whiteface Intervale Road.
Just 0.4 mile from the trailhead a short side path leads to a good view of Sandwich Dome and the southern Flat Mountain from the edge of a large beaver pond.
At 0.9 mile there's a vista of Mount Whiteface from a high bank above the Whiteface River.
This section of trail is on private land with a conservation easement.
There used to be a bridge for the crossing of Whiteface River at 1.6 miles; now only an abutment remains.
The best crossing is about 30 yards upstream.
The trail soon crosses the East Branch of Whiteface River.
Spring, with its nascent greens, is a great time to walk this delightful section of trail.
The rocky river is your constant companion.
Leaning yellow birches.
Looking downstream from a break spot.
The river cascades through a tumble of giant rocks.
It levels on a high plateau between the southern Flat Mountain and the West Spur of Mount Whiteface.
Another mellow stretch of walking.
Looking into the woods.
Here the trail crosses the nameless brook that drains the remote basin between East Sleeper and the Whiteface West Spur.
After recrossing the main river you climb through an area of high hobblebush.
That's the trail! A brief very rocky stretch.
Near here I left the trail and after some searching I found the old railroad bed that leads about 3/4 mile out to Hedgehog Camp, the most remote on the Beebe River line. This logging railroad, run by the Woodstock Lumber Company, was built in 1917 and its heyday ended around 1924, though the tracks remained until 1942.
The grade is still obvious nearly a century after it was in use.
Artifacts are visible in several places along the grade. (A reminder that it is illegal - and unfair to future wanderers - to remove any of these artifacts from the National Forest.)
A twisted crosscut saw blade.
A pailful of moss.
Several pieces of a stove.
And another piece.
Shovel blades, a sled runner and more.
Scat (coyote?) and what looks like a piece of coal.
A beautiful open stretch of the railroad grade.
Abandoned pieces of rail.
This open glade seems to be the main site of Hedgehog Camp (Camp 12). This camp was consumed by the great slash-fed forest fire that burned 3,500 acres around Flat Mountain Pond in July 1923. The men in the camp had to flee for their lives as a "seething, roaring hell of destruction" came upon them. One older man did not make it; he was found with a note pinned to his coat: "John Gray died July 13."
I'm not sure what this item is.
A 1920-vintage broken bottle.
G.S. Blodgett Co. is still in business today, making ovens.
A stovepipe joint of some kind?
The tip of a sled runner.
I enjoyed a lunch break at the nearby brook, the stream that flows between East Sleeper and the West Spur of Whiteface.
A grassy opening in the lower part of the Hedgehog Camp area.
A rusted wheelbarrow.
Perhaps this was a watering hole for the horses.
From here I bushwhacked NW up onto the southern shoulder of East Sleeper, passing this patch of Painted Trillium.
I soon emerged into a vast open birch glade, a legacy of the 1923 fire.
Awesome whacking before the ferns come up!
Looking across to the West Spur of Whiteface.
The south ridge of the West Spur.
The Ossipees in the distance.
Above the glades I entered dense spruce woods and sought out a ledge I had visited in 2008 with a neat view of Flat Mountain Pond and the SE ridge of Sandwich Dome. In eight years the vista had grown in significantly.
The Ossipees and Lake Winnipesaukee.
The southern Flat Mountain.
Back down to another birch glade.
A natural lawn.
From here, the bushwhack down towards the area north of Flat Mountain Pond was almost entirely through conifer forest. But the woods were open, somewhat like the forest in the eastern Pemi Wilderness.
I came out along a railroad spur that runs north from the north end of Flat Mountain Pond to this pretty beaver pond.
Lost Pass from the beaver pond. The northern Flat Mountain is on the left, the SW spur of East Sleeper is on the right.
I took to the woods again and headed up onto the south ridge of the northern Flat Mountain.
A random mini-cave.
Late in the afternoon I arrived at a favorite clifftop viewpoint.
I especially like the vista of the Sleepers and Whiteface. This trailless south-facing area is some of the wildest country in the Sandwich Range.
Looking down on the cliff.
West and East Sleeper summits peer over East's sprawling spur ridges.
A portrait of Whiteface.
The southern Flat Mountain.
The eastern gateway.
Next I bushwhacked down to the shore of the northern pool of Flat Mountain Pond.
The West Spur and summit of Whiteface.
Sandwich Dome and its SE ridge from the north end of the pond.
Parting shot before heading back down the Whiteface River valley for home.