Thursday, July 27, 2017

FLAT MOUNTAIN POND RAMBLE: 7/26/17




I enjoyed great summer weather for a hike to one of the finest backcountry ponds in the Whites, with a few route variations along the way. Cascades, a pond, some bushwhacking, a geocache and a view ledge - it was a good day in the woods.


The lower section of the Bennett Street Trail passes through some fine hemlock forest.



A nameless cascade and pool on Pond Brook.


A couple of years ago the Wonalancet Out Door Club built a good relocation around a streambank washout.


Just upstream from the relocation is picturesque Great Falls.


About 2 1/2 miles in I dropped down a steep slope from the Flat Mountain Pond Trail to Pond Brook. I was hoping to find a cascade named "Fan Fall" mentioned in the 1901 and 1908 editions of the Wonalancet Out Door Club guidebooks to the Sandwich Range.



The old guidebooks noted that Fan Fall was a half-mile upstream from Great Falls, so that's about where I dropped down to the brook. A search a tenth of a mile both downstream and upstream revealed a few minor cascades, but nothing that could be deemed a waterfall. My guess is that Fan Fall is downstream from where I turned around.


Another mini-cascade.


A large rock was a fine break spot, with a long view downstream.



Since I was down on the floor of the valley, I decided to take a bushwhack shortcut back up to the Flat Mountain Pond Trail, not far below the pond. This would save a mile or more of walking on the trail. I soon came to the confluence of the brooks that flow down from Flat Mountain Pond (on the right in this photo) and from the beaver pond at the hairpin curve on the trail (on the left).


I followed a remarkable narrow, steep-sided hogback for quite a ways up between the brooks.



I arrived in early afternoon at Flat Mountain Pond. This is the old dam at the outlet, built in the 1960s.





View of the northern Flat Mountain from a small beach near the dam.


Flat Mountain Pond Shelter, which looks to be in pretty good shape.



Surprisingly for such a fine summer day, there was no one around. I settled in for a long break at a shoreside spot with a long watery view to South Tripyramid and the Sleepers.



The top of the South Slide can be seen on South Tripyramid.


Summertime, and the livin' is easy...


After an hour or so, I bestirred myself to go find a geocache located 0.2 mile to the east in the woods on the lower slope of the southern Flat Mountain. After crossing the outlet brook below the dam, I found this view revealing the full sprawl of the northern Flat Mountain.


There were several ferny birch glades en route to the cache.



It had been two years since this one was last logged.



When I returned to the pond, there were two guys out on the water enjoying some backcountry fishing in a raft they had hauled up.



Before heading down I followed the railroad bed (of the Beebe River logging railroad, which operated from 1917-1942) to the point where it slips underwater. From here there's a wide view of the Sleepers and Mt. Whiteface.


A zoom on Mt. Whiteface, with its wild West Spur on the left.

 
Heading back down the Flat Mountain Pond Trail, you pass one long piece of leftover rail.


A half-mile down I made a short, steep bushwhack up to a ledge on a low spur ridge of the northern Flat Mountain. I had visited this spot once before, during a wild, windy rainstorm in July 1996 when Mt. Washington recorded a wind gust over 150 mph. I don't know why I was 4 miles into the woods on such a day, but in any case the trees were bending sideways in the wind and I couldn't stay long. Today the visit to the ledge was much more pleasant, allowing time to enjoy its wild, up close vista of the massive wooded ridges of Sandwich Dome. From this spot you see 5 different spurs of the mountain.




Mt. Israel can be seen off to the left.




To the right is the wild ledge-spotted hump of Flat Mountain's SW summit, and the deep col between Flat and Sandwich. Last year Mark Klim and I whacked up the valley towards the col and dropped into the deep cut of a flume down a bit on this side.


A scenic beaver meadow beside the Flat Mountain Pond Trail, at the unique hairpin turn on the railroad grade. Camp 9 was located here, but it appears the site is mostly underwater.



An unidentified large artifact at the site of Camp 8, near the junction of the Flat Mountain Pond Trail and Gleason Trail. (Please leave artifacts for others to enjoy.) From here I descended the remaining half-mile of the Gleason Trail back to the Bennett Street Trail.


Thursday, July 20, 2017


TABLE MOUNTAIN: 7/19/17

I chose a hot, sunny day to re-visit one of the lesser-known peaks in the Whites with good views. Table Mountain has several open ledges with wide vistas south and southwest, and I rarely encounter other hikers there.

The Attitash Trail is well-maintained up to Table Mountain, and is wild, little-used and at times hard to follow the rest of the way over to and across Big Attitash Mountain. Recent heavy rains created deep ruts at the entrance to the trailhead parking area on Bear Notch Road - use caution!


 

At 0.6 mile there is a nice cascade on Louisville Brook. A steep bank limits access to the pool at the bottom, but a short easy path leads down to ledges at the top.


The first view ledge on the ascent of Table, looking towards Mt. Chocorua and Mt. Paugus.


A nasty section of ledge and slippery gravel between the first and second view ledges.

 
The second view ledge reveals more of the Sandwich Range.


Looking back at Bear Mountain.


Mt. Passaconaway and the Sleepers. It was from here in the spring of 2012 that I first spotted the big slide on West Sleeper unleashed by Tropical Storm Irene, visible as a tan stripe on the far right. I went in to visit the slide a couple of months later.


The biggest view ledge is just below the high point of the trail.


It's always fun to meet store customers on the trail!



Nice angle on Passaconaway-Sleepers-Tripyramids.


A ledge reached by a short side path has a restricted view of Mt. Carrigain and other peaks to the north.


On the way back I decided to bushwhack to the flat-topped knob between Table and Bear Mountains, seen here in front of Bear. I had spotted a potential view ledge on this knob from First Sister last winter.


From the Table-Bear col the whacking was through hardwoods for the first half, then thicker with spruce and some blowdown the rest of the way.


The ledge wasn't as open as I had hoped, but it was a nice secluded spot with a good view of Mt. Chocorua and its sprawling spur ridges.

 
Falls Pond and the Rocky Gorge parking area could be seen down in the Swift River valley.


A profile of Passaconaway.


On the way back I chanced upon what looked like a remnant of the old WMNF Bear Mountain Trail, which crossed this hump as it traversed Bear and Table Mountains. This section was abandoned around 1960.


From the col down, the Attitash Trail is very pleasant woods walking.


Saturday, July 15, 2017


 SHORT HIKES: 7/9-7/14/17

This week's schedule allowed for only a series of short, but rewarding hikes.

Morning on Bald Mountain, looking across at Cannon Mountain. This may be the shortest hike to a good view anywhere in the Whites.


 The distinctive silhouette of Mt. Garfield from Bald Mountain.


Morning view of Echo Lake and Franconia Notch from Artist's Bluff.


Excellent rock work by the Trailwrights on the Artist's Bluff Trail.


On a warm and muggy late afternoon Carol and I took a geocaching hike to 1500-ft. Mt. Livermore in the Squam Range. We accessed the Squam Range ridgecrest via the unmaintained western section of Old Mountain Road, which begins at a parking area at the end of a side road off Perch Pond Rd. This section of Old Mountain Road is terribly eroded and not very pleasant walking. By contrast, the ridgecrest Crawford-Ridgepole Trail, shown below on the approach to Mt. Livermore through a fine oak forest, is a delightful footpath.


Carol takes in a hazy Squam Lake view from the summit of Mt. Livermore.


On another hot mid-afternoon, I followed an unofficial trail to Bridesmaid Falls (aka Noble Falls), near the Mittersill Resort. Although the flow was just a trickle this day, it was a very nice cooling spot to lounge for an hour and listen to the song of the water.


I made a steep bushwhack down the brook to see the terraced ledges of Plimpton Falls, "re-discovered" in recent years by local waterfall sleuths.


Open, Catskill-like hardwood glades on the slope of Mittersill Peak.


On a gloomy morning I did a close-to-home bushwhack to these nice cascades along Horner Brook, on the west slope of Loon Mountain. These were just off the original trail to the South Peak of Loon Mountain, which was then known as Loon Pond Mountain. (Traces of the trail are still visible.) The cascades were described by Frank O. Carpenter in his 1898 "Guide Book to the Franconia Notch and the Pemigewasset Valley." They had been more or less forgotten for many years, but like Plimpton Falls have recently been put "back on the map."



The photo below shows the view up from the crystalline pool at the bottom.


Hanging out streamside, listening to a Swainson's Thrush and a Winter Wren.


A closer look at the main drop.


The step-like upper cascades.


The Loon Pond Mountain Cascades feature some beautifully sculpted rock formations. A great local spot!