Friday, January 24, 2020

Sandwich Dome: 1/23/20

Didn't have time for the summit of the Dome after climbing Jennings Peak two weeks ago, so I returned to Drakes Brook Trail for some unfinished business. Excellent snowshoeing despite some "bareboot blues" on the ridge, and the 100-mile views were phenomenal.

Obligatory sign shot.

Drakes Brook.

Someone had skied high into the valley a day or two before. The lower two miles of Drakes Brook Trail was actually a designated ski trail in the 1930s.

Wonderful 'shoeing. Thanks to those who packed this out after the previous week's snowstorms.

Snowshoe hare.

High in the valley I made a short bushwhack to find a small opening I'd spotted on Google Earth.

I had faint hope it might be a logging camp site I've been looking for, but as I suspected it was a tiny wetland along a small meandering stream.

Making tracks in the Wilderness.

Drakes Brook at the turn in the trail, where steeper climbing begins.

The gentle wooded ridge walk between the Jennings Peak and Smarts Brook junctions is one of the nicest in the Whites.

Snowy tunnel.

Unfortunately what must have been a nice softly-packed snowshoe track had been badly chewed up by barebooters, making for tedious travel. I don't like doing it, but when I encountered the trio of young men descending near the summit, I asked the one who was carrying snowshoes if he would put them on, pointing out the difference between the churned up track above them and the smoothed out track behind me. I discovered on the way down that he did put his 'shoes on - thank you! - and the descent was much more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise.

It doesn't look like much here, but because this massive mountain rises in lofty isolation, it is a commanding viewpoint. It was once much more open; now you have to stand to see the sweeping northward view.

In the 1870s, geologist Joshua H. Huntington - for whon Huntington Ravine and Mt. Huntington were named - listed Sandwich Dome as one of his top six viewpoints in the Whites, along with Mt. Prospect in Holderness, Washington, Lafayette, Moosilauke, and Kearsarge North. Guidebook editor Moses Sweetser, who climbed the Dome with Huntington around 1875, called the view "one of the grandest and most fascinating panoramas in New England."

Here are a few snippets of the view. South Twin, the Bonds, and Zealand through Mad River Notch, with the Hancocks to the R above the K1 Cliff on Mt. Kancamagus. All told, 35 of the White Mountain 48 can be seen from here.

The Osceolas and Franconia Range beyond Waterville Valley.

The four Franconias.

Sandwich Range neighbors Passaconaway & Whiteface behind the NE summit of the Dome.

Tripyramids, with Carter Dome peeking over the North/Middle col.

Mt. Carrigain and the Presidentials beyond Mt. Kancamagus, Livermore Pass and Scaur Peak.

Zoom on the Presys.

Mt. Moosilauke, showing the slides in Gorge Brook ravine and the ice cliffs on the Jobildunc Ravine headwall.

Close-up of the South Slides on Tripyramid.

The southern slides on Osceola, which fell during Hurricane Carol in 1954.

 The vast blowdown on East Sleeper, from Hurricane Sandy in 2012, shows as a large patch of gray.

Hancocks and the Arrow Slide.

Before heading home, I made a short side trip down the Algonquin Trail for the southern part of the view.

The Algonquin Trail is rarely used in winter.

About 0.1 mile and 100 ft. in elevation down from the junction, the scrub parts for a Lakes Region view.

Squam Lake behind the north end of the Squam Range and the eastern Sandwich Notch area.

Mt. Israel, Red Hill, Lake Winnipesaukee and the Belknaps.

Looking down at Black Mountain, the SW shoulder of Sandwich Dome, over which the Algonquin Trail passes.

Crystal clear viewing revealed Mt. Monadnock (L) and Mt. Kearsarge (R) beyond the southern half of the Squam Range. It was clear enough to see (with binoculars) the ski trails on Mt. Wachusett in Massachusetts, 99 miles away.

With the track smoothed out, sweet snowshoeing along the ridge on Sandwich Mountain Trail.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Black Mountain Pond: 1/21/20

Great day of snowshoeing to this remote backcountry pond with Mark Klim and Ray "Jazzbo" Caron. By pure happenstance, at the start of our bushwhack off Sandwich Notch Road we ran into Fred Lavigne, longtime stalwart of the Wonalancet Out Door Club. It was our lucky day - Fred joined us for the trip to the pond and shared his extensive knowledge of the Sandwich Notch area and the Sandwich Range.

Ray heads up the Sandwich Notch Road on a chilly morning with the temp at 3 above.

Bushwhacking buddies.

Faded sign at the Notch height-of-land.

Fred (center) was planning to bushwhack to a favorite spot in the Notch, but quickly decided to join us for the trek to the pond.

Fred breaks trail on the historic Old North Road, dating back to the early 1800s hill farm settlements in the Notch. Fred is a noted authority on the history of the Notch and is adept at "reading the woods." He was also a driving force in the expansion of the Sandwich Range Wilderness in the mid-2000s. He is both a logger (mostly retired) and a self-professed tree-hugger.

Fred pointed out this horseshoe in a tree.

Snowshoeing up an old woods road. The dry powder provided some of the best snowshoeing of the season.

A stout old yellow birch.

A leisurely trek with lots of interesting conversation.


A hard-packed moose bed.

Fred spotted what appeared to be tooth scrapings - perhaps from a moose - on this bracket fungus.

Heading up towards the pond.

At the end of our bushwhack we dropped in on the Black Mountain Pond Trail.

Emerging at the south end of Black Mountain Pond.

Ray crosses the open expanse of the pond. We took a lunch break in the warmth of the sun at a ledge outcrop on the shore.

Looking up at Black Mountain (3500 ft.), the craggy SW shoulder of Sandwich Dome.

Ice cliff on the flank of Black Mountain.

Fred, Ray and I headed across the pond to the woods on the north side while Mark started back down on the return trip.

We snowshoed a loop through gorgeous open hardwoods on the slope north of the pond.

Hardwoods + powder = snowshoe heaven on a sunny winter day.

Heading across the top of our loop.

Down through more glades.

A beech tree with many offspring.

Could have wandered out here for hours.

Back across the pond, into the sun. In winter it seems broader than its listed six acres.

Ripples and ledges.

Parting shot, looking back at the SE ridge of Sandwich Dome.