Saturday, December 9, 2017

CONE MOUNTAIN: 12/8/17


On a gray day with drifting flurries, Mark Klim and I made a bushwhack traverse over this low but rugged neighbor of Welch and Dickey Mountains, enjoying some fine views along the way.

From the Welch-Dickey trailhead we followed the Brown Ash Swamp Mountain Bike Trail (which was once the Dickey Notch [hiking] Trail) into Dickey Notch, the scenic gap between Dickey and Cone Mountains. Several small beaver ponds are strung along the floor of the notch.



Mark surveys the northernmost pond.



Blowdown from the October 30 storm. The notch must have been like a wind tunnel.


Fine hardwood forest and rock scenery along the trail.



Bushwhacking through open hardwoods to the saddle between Cone Mountain and its northern spur.



Bear nest in a beech tree. It's not a nest in the sense that a bear lives there. The bear gathers branches and feeds on beech nuts.


Massive twin oaks.



Looking up at Cone Mountain from the ledgy knob of the northern spur.



Peering out from a clifftop on the brink of Dickey Notch.


Nice hardwoods on the saddle.


An old bear tree.



We climbed past this enormous rock in the forest.


The view from the top of the rock.



A steep climb brought us up onto the main mass of Cone Mountain.



Looking back.


The best viewpoint on Cone Mountain is this lichen-festooned ledge at the top of its steep north face. (As always, we placed steps carefully to minimize trampling.) This spot provides a sweeping view of the many southern spurs of Mt. Tecumseh.



Ledgy Fisher Mountain with West Tecumseh, Mt. Tecumseh and Green Mountain beyond. The remote Shattuck Brook valley is to the right of Fisher.



Dickey and Welch Mountains beyond Dickey Notch.


Looking down on the knob of Cone's northern spur.



The wide-spreading ridges of Sandwich Dome.



We bushwhacked south up the ridge to this ledge near the summit of Cone Mountain. This is one of the finest examples of cairn art we've seen. The ledginess of Cone Mountain is the legacy of an intense forest fire in the area around 1820.


This higher perspective added Mt. Whiteface to the view.



Another angle on Sandwich.


Mark signed us in at the summit register for this 2000-footer.



From the summit we followed an obscure and rough path down the ridge to Cone Pond, passing this south-viewing ledge along the way.


We took a break on this wonderful ledge on the shore of Cone Pond, which looked almost frozen enough to walk upon. (We did not test the ice.) For many years this pond and its watershed have been intensively studied by U.S. Forest Service scientists. It is highly acidic and reportedly supports no fish life.



The tops of Welch and Dickey can be seen by the outlet at the south end of the pond. From here we fashioned a curving and sometimes scrappy bushwhack route on WMNF land down to Orris Road, south of the Welch-Dickey trailhead, getting out just before dark.



Tuesday, December 5, 2017

CRAWFORD NOTCH RAMBLE: 12/4/17


After tending to mail orders in the morning, I headed over to Crawford Notch for an afternoon trail-and-bushwhack ramble to check out damage on the lower Dry River and visit a clifftop with views up and down the notch.

I had to stop for a photo of the classic Bretton Woods vista.




I parked at the Pleasant Valley picnic area on Rt. 302. The cliff I was heading for can be seen on the shoulder to the right.



This pleasant trail along the Saco River was opened by Crawford Notch State Park staff a few years ago. It makes a pleasant loop hike possible on the floor of Crawford Notch in combination with the Saco River Trail and Dry River Connector (which leads from the SE end of Saco River Trail to Dry River Campground).




A peaceful stretch of the Saco.



A spur of Maggie's Run crosses Rt. 302 and meanders through hardwoods to the Saco River Trail.




According to noted ecologist Tom Wessels, there is a stand of old-growth hardwood along the SE end of the Saco River Trail.



Beautiful!



John Dickerman, manager of Crawford Notch State Park, had recently called me to describe the damage caused by Dry River floodwaters during the October 30 storm. The Dry River Trail is currently closed to use by the WMNF due to major washouts and heavy damage to the suspension bridge partway up the valley. In keeping with the trail closure, I bushwhacked parallel to the trail through areas of sand deposited by the river.


I popped over for a look at a trench-like eroded section of the trail.



John had told me of a major blowout of the riverbank - and the trail with it - near the Wilderness boundary about 0.7 mile from Rt. 302. Yikes!



The river blasted through a former overflow channel (first scoured out by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011?), exposing lots of ledge.



There's a small cascade here.



Just downstream is a milky pool overlooked by a large boulder.



Near here was the launching point for the bushwhack to the clifftop. For a good distance I followed an old logging road that winds northward up the slope.




After the road petered out, there was good bare ground hardwood whacking, as seen here looking back..



The final approach was on a sidehill with slippery oak leaves.



As I recalled from previous visits, the clifftop yields some interesting views of the Crawford Notch area. To the SE you can see the long west ridge of Stairs Mountain with the nubbly peak of Mt. Crawford beyond.



Looking south down the Notch, with Bartlett Haystack and Mt. Tremont on the horizon. Mt. Bemis and Frankenstein Cliff (in shadow) are to the right.






Looking NW up the Notch.



Mt. Willey and Mt. Webster.



Down-look.


Boulders in the woods.




Late afternoon in the hardwoods.


Back in the valley I bushwhacked south along the Dry River, seeing many signs of major erosion.



This lofty, steep-faced gravel bank has been around for a while, but was probably expanded by Irene and the October storm.


Looking downstream to Frankenstein Cliff.


Interesting dike of dark rock (basalt?) in the granitic bedrock.



The floodwaters deposited tons of sand in the woods.



I followed the Dry River Connector (a continuation of the old logging railroad grade) over to the Dry River Campground, then crossed Rt. 302 and took Maggie's Run back to my car. Near the campground the river created another channel during the October storm, cutting a wide swath through the Dry River Connector. Wow!





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