Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Sandwich Dome via Bennett Street Trail: 7/6/20

 A trip up the quiet eastern approach to Sandwich Dome. Bushwhacked the upper part of the mountain to visit a unique vantage point overlooking the Sandwich Range Wilderness.

 Sandwich Dome from Bennett Street, on the drive into the trailhead.


 A Wonalancet Out Door Club sign points the way.

 Shady hemlock forest along the lower section of the trail.

A nameless cascade and golden pool on Pond Brook.

Great Falls.

 Where the trail crosses the Flat Mountain Pond Trail. From here on up, the trail is in the Sandwich Range Wilderness.

 The trail ascends steadily through varied forests, starting in northern hardwoods...

...continuing up through mixed woods with abundant hobblebush...

..and then climbing on a soft footbed through a wonderful open spruce forest. New Hampshire author Cornelius Weygandt once described the pre-logging spruce forest on Sandwich Dome as one of the "Seven Wonders of Sandwich." He wrote, “All around us are first-growth spruce, hundreds on hundreds of them, their great trunks all purplish brown in the shadowed woods.” That was in 1912; a decade later the slopes were decimated by the crews of the Beebe River Logging Railroad. It's heartening to see how the spruces have returned.

 For 0.6 mile the trail follows one of the sled roads of the Beebe River Logging Railroad, an easy stretch of walking high on the mountainside.

Farther up the trail I had the pleasure of meeting Per "LongMark" Frost, an accomplished hiker and Grid finisher. He was doing a redline loop of Guinea Pond, Black Mountain Pond, Algonquin and Bennett Street Trails. He's up to about 1,000 miles completed out of 1,400+.

The upper part of the trail is evidently a moose interstate. Per had counted 50 piles by the time we met.

 At one of the upper turns in the trail, I headed up through open boreal forest in search of a viewpoint I knew of thanks to a fellow bushwhacker.

 Fern garden in the sun.

Getting steeper and rougher.

 I had a general idea of the viewpoint's location, and figured it might be atop this cliff I had spotted on Google Earth. Nope, not going to get up on that.

 I continued up through some tricky terrain.

Found it! Not a ledge, just an obscure hidden spot in the scrub atop a dropoff. Might be the best view anywhere of the Sandwich Range Wilderness.

 Tripyramid with Mt. Washington in the distance. The ledgy SW summit of Flat Mountain North in the foreground.

 Zoom on Tripyramid, with the South Slides well-displayed.

 Mts. Passaconaway, Whiteface, Paugus and Chocorua.

Flat Mountain Pond, sprawling across a high plateau.

 Mts. Carrigain and Washington to the north.

 Wide view to the east.

 From the viewpoint I bushwhacked up along the ridgecrest to the summit, passing several fir waves.

Not sure what this scat is.

Moose path.

This looked like a moose bedding area.

 Many blowdown patches on this ridge.

 Late afternoon view from the summit of Sandwich Dome. The trees have grown up enough that you have to stand on the topmost ledge to see this, but it is still an impressive panorama, with 34 NH 4000-footers visible and 3 more in Vermont.

 South Twin, Bonds, Zealand and Hancocks beyond Mad River Notch.

The Franconia Range behind the Osceolas.

 Descending the upper Bennett Street Trail. This is a solid climb at 9 miles round trip with 2900 ft. of elevation gain, equivalent to climbing North Twin or Mt. Passaconaway. A little trail history from the forthcoming "Waterville Valley Guidebook," due out in mid-August, published by the Town of Waterville Valley: "This trail was cut by WODC in 1925 to replace the earlier trail up Sandwich Mountain (later called Gleason Trail) that had been obliterated by logging. It ascended a succession of lumber roads through logged areas and was deemed unattractive for some time, but forest growth has reclaimed the slopes of Sandwich Mountain and it is now an attractive woodsy climb."

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