A shoulder season mainstay for me is a ramble in the woods on lower Acteon Ridge, a long western arm of Sandwich Dome, with a visit to one or another of the area's several view ledges. On this partly sunny November day, I tramped through the early snow (which became mushy with temps in the mid-30s) on a bushwhack loop over 2489-ft. Middle Acteon Peak, enjoying an hour's sojourn on its finest view ledge. The day was enlivened by abundant bear sign as well as a fairly close sighting of a foraging bruin.
Ice is already forming on the walls of the Smarts Brook Gorge, along the Pine Flats Trail.
Midwinter look along Pine Flats Trail.
Into the hardwoods for a leisurely bushwhack in familiar terrain.
A swaying beech, with some bear claw marks.
This elongated rock reminds me of one of those wrap-around sofas.
An old bear tree.
In the midst of this expansive hardwood forest, several large patches of leaves were stirred up. The tracks leading in revealed that a bear had been foraging here.
This bruin had been busy.
Heading across the slope, I encountered fresher tracks.
I came upon more turned-up leaves, and then looked down the slope and saw the bear a couple hundred feet away.
It didn't notice me until I gave a loud hoot. It looked up at me, then loped effortlessly up across the slope above me. Too many trees for a clear photo, but its shape is visible top center in this pic.
Probably the freshest bear tracks I've ever seen.
The bruin went up this slope...
...and I went in a different direction up this slope.
I headed up through a nice little remote hardwood valley.
Boulders strewn about.
Into the spruces at the head of the valley.
Snowshoe hare tracks.
One of the three trunks of this landmark white ash has toppled.
A favorite cliff hidden in the forest.
Tracks of bushwhackus stabilicerus.
Looking down a steep slope on the approach to Middle Acteon.
Rugged terrain of rock and oak.
An inviting portal.
The fine Middle Acteon view ledge, looking across the Smarts Brook valley to the two Black Mountains.
Adding Sandwich Dome to the view.
Sandwich Dome behind Sachem Peak.
The Smarts Brook Scar, remnant of an old slide.
I'd been staring at this intriguing spot for years...
...and finally bushwhacked to it last summer.
The Campton Range, with the Squam Range in the back.
East Weetamoo (L) and Mt. Weetamoo (R).
The summit of Middle Acteon. The lid of the register jar was frozen shut.
Descending off the peak, I found more fresh bear tracks - a good half-mile from my earlier encounter.
An inner sanctum hardwood glade.
On the descent I crossed tracks with the bear several more times.
Evidently this bruin is a skilled climber, as the tracks led up this steep ledge face.
The Bald Knob Cliff, known to rock climbers.
It was an interesting feeling, knowing that it was just me and the bear out there.
Some of the countless boulders on the steep west slope of Bald Knob.
Crazy rocky terrain, with lots of possibilities for a bear den.