Thursday, August 15, 2019

Slide on Middle Scar Ridge: 8/14/19


Dry summer conditions are ideal for visiting slides, and one of the major ones I had yet to visit in the Sandwich Range/Osceola/Scar Ridge group of mountains was a rather hidden slide well up a drainage on the NW side of the peak known as Middle Scar Ridge. My slide bushwhacking buddy Mark Klim and I had started up towards it a couple of years ago, but I wasn't feeling it that day for a long whack, and one of Mark's boots blew out, so we retreated. This seemed like a good time for a second attempt. Unfortunately, due to recent knee surgery Mark could not join me. I knew the whack would be long and scrappy, and I was not disappointed in that regard. But the scenery at the slide was exceptional.

I parked at the Discovery trailhead on the Kanc Highway and bushwhacked down to the Hancock Branch. The crossing was a pretty easy rock hop with the low water conditions.



I headed a short distance up the brook that drains the slide's valley to a ledgy cascade that Mark and I had visited on our failed attempt.


The Middle Scar Ridge slide most likely fell during the great September 1938 hurricane, which triggered a number of slides across the Whites. The track of the slide looks fresh in this 1939 aerial photo from the USGS Earth Explorer website. The swath of the cascade can be seen at the lower left, just above where the slide track drops into the Hancock Branch.


On the lower part of the bushwhack I enjoyed some open woods, but I knew this wouldn't last.



I came across what appeared to be an old sled road from the Hancock Branch operation of J.E. Henry's East Branch and Lincoln Railroad, dating back to the 1890s.


Soon enough the woods became sprucey and prickly with plenty of blowdown.


This big old white pine escaped the lumberman's axe.


Most of the rest of the whack featured constant pushing through scratchy spruce branches.





I got into some bad terrain while attempting to slab back down to the brook from the ridge I had been following on the west side. One area was especially slow going with blowdowns, young conifers, big rocks and deep holes. It looked pretty good on the map...


Trapped!



I was very happy to get down to the brook, which provided an open corridor through the clinging conifers. The rocky bed was dry at first....


...and then transitioned back to a flowing stream. This was a pleasant part of the bushwhack, on and off the brook in a quiet, remote valley.


A neat flat area in a broad part of the valley.



A meeting of brookbeds: the main valley stream on the right, the track from the slide on the left.


Following the old slide track up.


Reaching the bottom of the slide. The lower section is a steep swath of gravel and loose rock.


Running ground pine (?) pioneering on the gravel.


Heading up along the edge on a swath of loose rock.


First views out towards the western Pemi Wilderness: Franconia Range and Owl's Head.


The upper part of the slide is a huge slab of ledge.


Sort of a Scar Ridge version of Franconia Ridge's Shining Rock.


I wasn't sure this slab would be at all accessible, as it looks ominous when seen from afar and on Google Earth. But the bottom edge turned out to be a friendly place, with a comfortable shelf and some nice greenery (which I avoided trampling by walking on the bare ledge).


Luxurious tufts of grass colonizing the edge.


 An impressive expanse of rock!


Looking back across the face.


Between the slab and the gravel swath below was a garden featuring meadowsweet, ferns, and clumps of small birches.


 I  grabbed a rock seat and stayed a while, admiring the sweeping view into the western Pemi.



A fine angle on the Franconia Range.


The trough of the Franconia Brook valley, between Owl's Head and South Twin.


Mt. Garfield peeking over behind Owl's Head.


Garfield's rocky crown.


It was tempting to scramble up the dry slab, but footholds and shelves that look good from below are not so comfortable coming back down.


Instead, I made my way across to the far edge, peering down the gravel chute that connects the two parts of the slide.


Definitely not going up this.



Looking up at the mass of the main Scar Ridge summit.




I used a safer route through the steep woods along the edge of the slab and emerged at a moderately sloping area near the top.



An interesting cliff on a shoulder of the main Scar Ridge peak.



A steep headwall ledge guards the top of the slide.



It was comfortable enough to hang out up here for a while.




An even better Pemi vista at the top, including the Bonds on the right.



Zoom on West Bond, with the "Guitar Slide" on the left and a new slide from the 2017 Halloween storm on the right.


Partway back down along the edge, I could see the summit of Middle Scar peeking over a shoulder, beneath ominous clouds.


Descending alongside the bright gravel swath.


Careful foot placement required.


For the descent down the valley, I followed the brook closely rather than climb back through the nasty area I had come down through off the western ridge. The canyon-like terrain necessitated frequent crossings of the brook, back and forth, seeking the best travelway.


Looking back up a straightaway on the brook.


I was pleased to find a short stretch of open going in hemlock forest low down on the eastern side. I remembered this from the previous attempt, which ended not far above here. Overall, this ridge might have been better than the western ridge I tried on the way up.


After hours of being slapped, poked, stabbed and tripped, the Hancock Branch was a welcome sight!


The Middle Scar Ridge slide on Google Earth.







Tuesday, August 13, 2019

East Osceola 1897 Slide: 8/12/19


Morning bushwhack partway up an old slide above Lower Greeley Pond.

First sun on Upper Greeley Pond, after rising above the ridge of Mt. Kancamagus.


After a year or two of flooding, the little gravel beach at the NW corner of Lower Greeley Pond is back.



Mad River Notch from the beach.



In the 1904 edition of his Waterville Valley guidebook, Arthur L. Goodrich wrote "The New Slide fell in 1897 and half filled the lower Greeley Pond." Minutes from a WVAIA meeting in 1897 noted that trail work was neded on the Greeley Pond path due to the slide.The remains of the slide runout are seen at the bottom of the photo. Goodrich called it the New Slide to distinguish it from the older slide farther north on East Osceola, which fell in 1892 - the slide crossed by the Mt. Osceola Trail near the top of the steep climb to East Osceola.



Long view north up Lower Greeley Pond.



I followed the rubbly old slide track up from the trail.


The first slab was slick and I opted for a detour through the woods.


Same for the second ledge.


And the third, at the base of a huge steep, open slab.


After a very steep and thick whack, I emerged on a shelf at the top of the big slab. I've visited this secluded spot several times before in summer and winter. The memory of the dense whacking always seems to fade. I had hoped to find a water bottle that was plucked from my pack back in 2010, but no luck.




Looking down at Lower Greeley Pond.


From the edge, a view across to the Tripyramids.




A nice perch for lounging in the morning sun.



Heading farther up the slide track.


Did a short bypass around this spot.


A bit higher was a section of nice dry, low angle slabs.



This was a smooth snowy swath on an early April snowshoe visit.


Wavy ledges.


Ledge step.


A headwall terminates the open lower part of the slide. The wet sections of ledge are as slippery as ice.


Heading back down.


Tufts on the slide.


Better lighting back down on the big slab.


The K1 Cliff on Mt. Kancamagus.


Side view.


The old Waterville guidebook noted that the New Slide could be used for descent from East Osceola to Greeley Ponds. Yikes! Those hikers must have been made of sterner stuff.


A wider perspective.


Zoom on Tripyramid.



Upper Greeley Pond on the hike out.



The 1897 slide is visible as a thin strip in this view from a talus slope on Mt. Kancamagus. The arrow shows the headwall slab where I turned around. The open upper part of the slide is 700-800 ft. higher in elevation.