Thursday, April 11, 2024

Dickey Mountain: 4/9/24

The day after the solar eclipse was another spring beauty, with abundant sunshine and comfortable temperatures. After slogging through mushy snow on Potash Mountain for the eclipse, I was looking for a hike with minimal snow cover leading to excellent views. Old favorite Dickey Mountain fit the bill.

The lower mile of the south-facing trail up Dickey was bone dry with just a couple of minor muddy spots. Nice!

I always admire the fine rock steps at the top of the hardwood section.

After negotiating one wet section and some old snow and soft ice, I emerged on the lower end of the great slab atop Dickey's SW cliff, looking across at Welch Mountain and the sprawling ridges of Sandwich Dome.

Gazing south to the Campton Range. Still plenty of snow in its north-facing hardwoods.

Spring fever!

Looking down the big ledge from the upper edge. Mount Kearsarge and Ragged Mountain could be spotted in the distance.

One of the many ledge slabs and vistas as you climb Dickey, here looking NW to snow-capped Mount Moosilauke.

The trail ascends and then crosses the upper edge of this huge slab at 2550 ft.

Endless views looking down the expansive slab.

Snowpack lingered in the spruces atop the broad summit at ~2700 ft.

The best view ledges at the summit of Dickey are on the east side, where the rocky cone of Welch Mountain juts up with Sandwich Notch, the Squam Range and the Belknap Range in the distance.

To the north are various wild, trailless spurs of Mount Tecumseh.

A great spread of the Sandwich Range to the NE.

Scaur Ridge and the Tripyramids, with the South Slides standing out.

Heading back down off the summit, the trail opens to a sweeping NW view to the Kinsmans, Cannon Balls, Cannon, Franconia Range and Scar Ridge. Fisher Mountain lurks in the foreground.


The obligatory photo of the mysterious stone circle on a ledge above the big SW slab.

Late afternoon view of Dickey and Welch from the SW slab.

Melting ice flows on a trailside ledge wall.


With a few hours of daylight left on this gorgeous day, I pushed off-trail for some wandering through the open hardwoods high on the west slope of Dickey.

As I wrapped around more to the north, the snow cover became continuous. Time to head back after a half-mile meander.

Interesting lip ledge in the forest.

A small mountain meadow guarded by gnarled oaks.

At this spot it looked like a small slide had once cut through the forest.

Looking up from the lower end of the open swath. Or could it be a bootleg ski trail? I did not see evidence of cutting. You never know what you'll stumble across when you wander off trail on a fine spring day.


Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Potash for the Eclipse: 4/8/24

Where to go on Solar Eclipse Day? As a landslide enthusiast, I wanted to experience the eclipse from a slide, or from a viewpoint looking at slides. This meant staying south of totality, a tradeoff I was willing to make. Plus, that would steer clear of the predicted nightmarish traffic jams before and after the eclipse. (I don't deal well with being stuck in standstill traffic. It was something to behold on Google Maps.) 

I originally thought of trudging out to the South Slide of Mount Tripyramid, which would have a perfect angle for the eclipse. But I felt that would be too long of a slog breaking trail through mushy snow, especially since my old friend Harry Cunningham wanted to come up for an eclipse hike, and hadn't hiked on snowshoes for quite a while. Potash Mountain, which has a wonderful view facing south into the Sandwich Range that includes several slides, emerged as an excellent choice. 

I was surprised to see that the logging road approach to the Mount Potash Trail, which avoids the major crossing of Downes Brook, was unbroken when we drove by around 11:30 am. When we arrived at the UNH/Downes Brook/Potash trailhead, it was a shock to see no other vehicles there. There was a good snowshoe track leading up the Downes Brook Trail, so we figured we would follow it at least as far as the brook crossing to see if it was feasible. If the crossing looked too sketchy, our Plan B was an ascent of Hedgehog Mountain, which had a partly broken track.

The Downes Brook crossing turned out to be shallow and quite doable with rock hopping. Potash it would be.


By early afternoon the snow was quite soft and wet. Many thanks to the snowshoers who broke this trail out; otherwise we would not have made it up to the summit.

Harry lookin' good on his MSRs.


Harry's dog, Lady, led the way, periodically coming back to check up on the old slowpokes.


Yes, I would like a treat!

A  stiff climb through hemlock and spruce lifted us to the viewpoint on the NE shoulder of Potash, looking across the Downes Brook valley at Mts. Passaconaway and Whiteface.

There was no shortage of snow over here in the Albany Intervale, at 2200 ft.

Climbing up the cone through a fine spruce forest.

A great view of Mount Passaconaway from the south outlook, just before the final steep climb to the summit. The Downes Brook Slide is in full view here.

Mts. Chocorua, Hedgehog and Paugus off to the east. As we were admiring the views here, a couple came up behind us and headed on to the summit - the only other hikers we would see during the day.


Climbing steeply up south-facing ledges through slushy snow.

We reached the summit shortly after the start of the eclipse. Spectacular views on this clear spring day.

North across the Albany Intervale to Mts. Huntington, Hancock and Carrigain.

The mighty Carrigain, behind Green's Cliff.

Mount Washington was a shining beacon.

We headed over to the SW side of the summit ledges, where you peer into the wild heart of the Sandwich Range. Mount Whiteface, with a huge slide dropping into the Downes Brook valley, is on the left. East Sleeper is right of center, and West Sleeper, scarred by its 2011 Irene slide in the upper Sabbaday Brook valley, is on the right.

A close look at Mount Passaconaway reveals part of its Northwest Slide, at top center of the photo, 



 Time to settle in for some eclipse viewing.


3:27 pm, approaching the maximum obscuring of the sun at this location, 98.8%. I did not try to shoot any zoomed in photos of the sun with a filter over my phone, preferring to take in the surrounding mountainscape in between peeks through my eclipse glasses.

The light was getting eerie, here looking west to Scaur Peak, the Osceolas and Mount Kancamagus.

Mount Tripyramid behind The Fool Killer.

Looking north to Hancock and Carrigain at 3:29, eclipse at maximum extent..


The Sandwich Range at 3:29. Even at 1% exposure, the sun's light was strong, but diminished such that sunglasses were not needed to cut the glare from the snow. And it was noticeably cooler than just a few minutes earlier.

Harry and Lady enjoying the show, as the sun's strength is renewed.

Light getting back to normal.

Late afternoon, descending on mushy snow, into the views.

Chocorua cuts a fine figure to the east.

Last view of the day.

Thanks for the show!

One of three tired but satisfied hikers.