For the first hike of the New Year, Mark Klim and I enjoyed a snowshoe bushwhack to a low, ledgy northern spur of the Three Sisters on Mt. Chocorua.
Our original plan was to whack to ledges on Green's Cliff, but the cascading Swift River had other plans.
The wide crossing on the Sawyer River Trail was partly frozen, but the ice looked hollow and we deemed the risk of a surprise dunking too high.
We headed east along the Kanc, spun into the unplowed Champney Falls trailhead lot, and trekked up the well-packed Champney Falls Trail, enjoying views of Champney Brook along the way.
From the upper end of the Champney Falls Loop we headed off-trail, first crossing the brook and visiting ledge viewpoints above the top of the falls.
Nice vista north down the valley to Mt. Carrigain, Vose Spur, Owl's Cliff, a pointy Mt. Tremont, and Mt. Nancy.
The bushwhack was mostly through open hardwoods, with varying snow conditions. Snow depth was about 20." It was supportive in sun-baked places, while in shaded areas there was a breakable crust with slippery sugar snow beneath.
The brook that drops over Pitcher Falls below flows down through a neat little secluded mini-valley.
"Dogface Rock," on the right.
Mark takes in the view of the Three Sisters ridge from a ledge along the rim of the Little Sister knob.
The Three Sisters: left to right, Third, Middle and First.
Meandering through open woods on the broad, bumpy top of the knob.
Another ledge offered a view of Big George in his winter finery.
We took a long break in the balmy sun on a ledge with good views to the west. The Hancock ridge is seen across the Albany Intervale beyond Green's Cliff and the low nubble of Birch Hill.
Looking across the Sandwich Range.
Hedgehog and Potash below Tripyramid and Scaur Peak.
Heading back down through sunny, scrubby hardwoods. This area was burned in a 1915 forest fire.
Late afternoon shadows on Mt. Carrigain.