Friday, November 15, 2019

Acteon Peak Loop: 11/15/19

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.

Deer tracks, I think.

This elongated rock reminds me of one of those wrap-around sofas.

An old bear tree.

 Pileated Woodpecker action.

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.

Open woods.

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.

Looking back.

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.

Rock fangs.

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. 

Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Scaur & Waterville Flume: 11/13/19

January in November! A winter acclimatization hike on familiar trails in Waterville Valley. The temperature was 12 degrees when I started late morning, and 12 degrees again at dusk.

A few diehard XC skiers had negotiated the thin snow cover on Livermore Trail.

The Kettles Path dates back to the 1890s, when it was laid out by Waterville hiker and guidebook author Arthur L. Goodrich.

I didn't quite have first tracks on the trail - this critter preceded me for a good half-mile. Red fox?

One of the three bowl-shaped glacial "kettles" along the trail.

Big pine.

Wintry look.

This giant white ash is a survivor.

One of many rock faces around The Scaur.

The traditional black-on-yellow of WVAIA signs.

On this bitterly cold and windy day Mt. Tecumseh was obscured by "wind fog."

Surprisingly, it was sunny, windless and rather comfortable at the south-facing Scaur, looking south towards Sandwich Dome and Jennings Peak.

Ghostly vista of Middle & South Tripyramid and West Sleeper.

Looking out towards Lost Pass.

Fuzzed-out East Osceola and the Painted Cliff.

Mt. Osceola and its long southern ridges.

Along Irene's Path just beyond The Scaur, you pass by Waterville's Rock of Gibraltar.

Bright day on the Scaur Ridge.

Tracks from a rambling Ruffed Grouse.

Bear in the neighborhood!

I bushwhacked east along the ridge from the point where Irene's Path drops down towards Flume Brook.

Enjoyed the sun in this beautiful maple glade about 1/3 mile along the ridge.

I returned to Irene's Path and headed down to the Waterville Flume. Microspikes went on at the top of the steep descent. Wind fog continued to obscure the Osceolas at this favorite viewpoint partway down.

A fine profile of East Osceola.

Snowshoe hare. About 3-4" of snow on the trail here.

Trail junction down by Flume Brook. A deep, cold valley.

The Waterville Flume, one of the neatest attractions in the region.

Flume Brook already freezing up, in mid-November!

Fractured ledges on the west wall of the Flume.

Sentinel pine atop the wall.

On the way back along Irene's Path, I noticed that the bear tracks led to the base of this beech tree.

Maybe the bruin snagged some beech nuts up there.

Mt. Tecumseh beyond the cliffs of The Scaur.