Saturday, November 18, 2017


I took the afternoon off for a blowdown-check hike up the Kettles Path to The Scaur, a favorite spot in Waterville Valley. After a dismal morning with lousy driving conditions it turned into a spectacular sunny, windy, wintry afternoon.

Just one fat bike track and one set of boot prints on the Livermore Trail when I started out at 1:00 pm.

One of our favorite trails, originally laid out in the 1890s by Arthur L. Goodrich.

This sidecut relocation was fashioned a couple of years ago by volunteers from the Waterville Valley Athletic & Improvement Association.

 Birch blowdown.


The deep depressions in the forest known as The Kettles are easier to see with the leaves down. This type of feature was formed when a stranded chunk of glacial ice melted, leaving a bowl-shaped hole in the earth. There are three of these alongside the Kettles Path.

One of about 10 blowdowns along the 0.9 mile trail. Not bad compared to many trails after the Halloween storm. I was able to remove all but one stepover by sawing or dragging.

Squirrels had used this one as an elevated highway.


This giant white ash is battered, but a survivor.

It was cold and very windy on the dark, steep climb up the north side of The Scaur.

A new sign in the traditional WVAIA black-on-yellow pattern.

A beautiful wintry scene presented itself at the ledgy outlook.

It was downright balmy in the sun here, compared to the bitter cold just a few yards to the north.

Some turkeys had apparently come up to check out the view.

Around the corner it looked like a turkey convention.

Sandwich Dome and Jennings Peak.

Winter had come early to Middle and South Tripyramid.

Clouds racing across Mt. Tecumseh.

A peek at East Osceola and the Painted Cliff.

Mt. Osceola eventually emerged from the clouds.

The mysterious Lost Pass is tucked in amidst these trailless ridges.

The open hardwoods under the cliffs beckoned for a bushwhack descent back to the trail below The Scaur.

The "Rock of Gibraltar" a short distance along Irene's Path.

Long late afternoon shadows in the hardwoods.

Looking back up.

The base of this fallen giant was peppered with squirrel tracks.

A rock-gripping yellow birch.

Friday, November 17, 2017


Mark Klim and I spent a leisurely partly sunny day wandering some low elevation trails in the Sandwich area.

On our first ramble we started at Mead Base at the foot of Mt. Israel and walked the short segment of the Bearcamp River Trail across to Sandwich Notch Road. We took a side trail down to the base of Lower Falls on the Bearcamp River.

The highlight of this section of trail is Beede Falls in the Sandwich Town Park.

Next we headed NW on Sandwich Notch Road.

We went a half-mile up the road and grabbed a geocache at the Crawford-Ridgepole trailhead. Our original plan was to continue another mile or so up the road and bushwhack to some ledges on a spur of the Squam Range. But the walking was tedious on the road, with slippery tire tracks, and the recent snowfall made the woods and slopes uninviting for bushwhacking any distance. So we decided to head back to Mead Base and then drive over to Wonalancet for another hike.

On the way back we took out a half-dozen blowdowns on the Bearcamp River Trail.

View of Mt. Israel from the road into Mead Base. 

We drove to the Ferncroft trailhead in Wonalancet and walked a 4 1/4 mile loop that included little Mt. Katherine. This would get Mark 2 miles of new redlining trails. We started up the Blueberry Ledge Trail for 0.9 mile. Along the way we passed this young forest on what we believe was once the Quimby Hill Ski Slope. According to the books "Lost Ski Areas of the White Mountains," by Jeremy Davis, and "Skiing in the East" (Federal Writer's Project, 1939), this 600 ft. X 75 ft. slope was operated from the late 1930s into the1950s by the Tamworth Outing Club and featured a rope tow and rustic shelter. It was suitable for novices and intermediates and required 15" of snow for safe skiing.

Pileated Woodpecker excavations beside the Blueberry Ledge Trail.

We turned left on the McCrillis Path, and then left again on the Tilton Spring Path. All of these trails are admirably maintained by the Wonalancet Out Door Club, and blowdowns from the Halloween storm had already been cleared.

Bushwhacker's nightmare beside Tilton Spring Path.

A wonderful, little-used woods walk.

Tilton Spring, at the junction with Pasture Path.

The Pasture Path climbs gently to the broad, flat summit of Mt. Katherine (1380 ft.). A century ago this summit was wide-open and offered a panoramic view of the Sandwich Range. It was originally known simply as "The Ledge." It was soon renamed for Wonalancet innkeeper Katherine Sleeper Walden. Today there is only one framed vista, but it's a nice one, looking across the Wonalancet fields to Mt. Chocorua.

Someone had built the first snowman of the season.

View of Mt. Whiteface from the Pasture Path.

The classic Ferncroft trailhead view in late afternoon, featuring Mt. Whiteface and Mt. Wonalancet.

Before heading home I took a short stroll on the always-delightful Brook Path along the Wonalancet River.

Friday, November 10, 2017


Mark Klim and I headed out for Passaconaway Cutoff, the adopted trail of the AMC 4000-Footer Committee, to check for storm damage. A report had been posted on Facebook the previous evening noting that the Cutoff was clear but that there were many blowdowns on the Oliverian Brook Trail. That proved to be the case, so we removed a bunch of blowdowns from Oliverian and only a few minor ones on the Cutoff. (There are still some big ones left on Oliverian, but they are easy enough to get through.) Mark also raked out some of the drainages that had filled in from the storm, and I got some bonus brushing done.

This mess fell by a bridge next to a beaver pond 0.7 mile in on Oliverian Brook Trail.

Mark gets to work on it.

We cleared it enough to make for easier passage, and left the big trunks for the pro crew.

Runoff from the storm stripped the leaf cover off the section of trail that follows the bed of the Oliverian Brook spur of the Swift River Railroad (a logging line that operated from 1906-1916).

This was a messy one.


This was the nastiest blowdown, blocking a narrow sidehill section of trail on the approach to a small brook crossing.

Mark does the final cleanup after the multiple cut removal. We had help with this one from Bill Doyle, a customer at my store who happened to be hiking up this way today.

It was a fine November day in the hardwoods.

Mark and Bill climb along the steady upper half of Passaconaway Cutoff.

We reached the top of the Cutoff with enough time left for a side trip (up, down, and up along the Square Ledge Trail) to the viewpoint near the summit of Square Ledge. The Square Ledge Trail climbs alongside a rock face as it approaches the wooded summit. It's a wild area out here!

We took the obscure side trail out to a white ledge that offered a fine view of a looming, shadowed Mt. Passaconaway. Despite a temperature near freezing, it was comfortable here in the sun. The stripe of Passaconaway's east slide, which fell during the 1938 hurricane, wiping out the earlier version of Passaconaway Cutoff, can barely be discerned in the center of the shadowed area.

Green's Cliff and Mt. Carrigain rise to the north.

There's a major dropoff from a lower ledge, looking down into the upper basin of Oliverian Brook.

Mt. Paugus is close by to the east.

Looking south to the Paugus Pass area and Ossipee Lake in the distance.

Descending in the chilly shade along the Square Ledge Trail. We took a couple more blowdowns out on the way down, and reached the trailhead just as darkness was closing in.