Thursday, April 8, 2010


Continuing on an April Snow Avoidance Progam (ASAP), I headed down to a section of the Appalachian Trail across two low but interesting mountains SW of Mt. Moosilauke: Mt. Mist (2230 ft.) and Webster Slide Mountain (2184 ft.), whose eastern cliffs overlook scenic Wachipauka Pond. A visit to the pond was also on the itinerary.

In the summer photo below, taken from the top of the Owl's Head Cliff just to the north, the two mountains present similar profiles: flat on top with a precipitous eastern face. Mt. Mist is on the L, Webster Slide on the R.

I started at the south end of the Wachipauka Pond Trail, off rural Route 25C. It was already warm at 9 am, and rose into the high 70s/low 80s by afternoon.

The easy-graded trail led past this massive-trunked white birch.

Though the entire route today was snow-free, and much of the footway was dry, it being April there were some wet spots, especially after some heavy showers the night before..

The first part of the trail rambles along the side of a nameless knoll, through mixed woods with quite a few birches.

During the gradual climb up Mt. Mist itself, the forest transitions to fine open hardwoods.

A Dartmouth Outing Club sign marks the high point of the trail on Mt. Mist, though the true summit is probably a bump in the woods just to the east. This section of the AT was built in the mid-1970s by the DOC trail crew, replacing a lower route to the west.

Great spring hardwood walking along the crest.

A moderate descent leads to one of those quirky DOC signs. Apparently someone didn't appreciate the student humor.

A nice spot to take a break, though the view is restricted.

You can see part of Wachipauka Pond, with the south ridge of Mt. Moosilauke beyond.

From the edge you can get a closer look at Moosilauke.

Descending to the Mist-Webster Slide col, I saw my first spring beauties of the year. Many trout lily leaves were emerging, and later in the day I saw two of their yellow blooms.

A gap in the trees revealed the great cliff of Webster Slide.

According to the book Appalachian Trail Names, by David Lillard, "...a trail crew from the Dartmouth Outing Club bestowed the name in the 1970s because the spring emerges from the ground beneath the hairy roots of an old maple tree."

At a four-way junction just past the spring, the Webster Slide Trail heads left and up.

Old stone walls and new blowdown beside the trail. Farther up the trail pieces of an old stove were hidden in the woods.

As a side trail off the AT, this is blazed in blue, in this case superimposed on an older orange/black/orange DOC blaze.

After an easy stretch, the Webster Slide Trail begins a serious climb through an oak-dominated forest.

One steep stretch is badly eroded with poor footing. But before long the grade moderates; overall the climb is 550 ft. in 0.7 mile.

A sign marks the flat, wooded summit.

The trail descends slightly to a clearing where a DOC shelter stood from 1931 to 1978.

About 30 yards to the left is the view for which Webster Slide is noted: looking straight down at the shimmering Wachipauka Pond, with Carr Mountain sprawled across the horizon.

The slope drops off steeply below to the cliffs. According to William Little’s colorful 1870 History of Warren, NH, Webster Slide received its name from an incident in which a hunter named Webster and his dog tracked a moose to the top of the mountain. In the ensuing excitement, both dog and moose tumbled over the cliff and fell to their deaths. A more cynical version of the tale is that Webster plied someone with rum to have the mountain named after him.

Looking SE, Mt. Kineo can be seen beyond some beaver ponds.

By poking around the half-dead stand of red pines on the other side of the clearing, you can see Mt. Mist due south.

I was planning to make a short bushwhack in search of ledges along the steep southern rim of Webster Slide, but I quickly stumbled upon a beaten path, marked by surveyor's tape, which led 0.1 mile at easy grades to here.

The side path turned left and dropped steeply a few yards to this sign, with Mt. Cube seen in the distance.

The footway continued very steeply down another few yards to this inviting perch. This last part is rather precarious and requires caution on the part of the descender.

A wonderful sunny perch, looking south to Mt. Mist and down to the col. Hardwoods everywhere out there. For a while a barred owl was hooting, even at midday with the temperature pushing eighty.

A pleasant view of Mt. Cube, with Lake Armington and part of Lake Tarleton on the R.

After a long stay on the ledge, I returned to the south viewpoint, where there was now better light on Mt. Kineo....

...and for the dazzling down-look at Wachipauka.

At the bottom of the Webster Slide Trail, I continued ahead on an unmarked side path that descends to Wachipauka Pond.

The trail ends at this idyllic shoreside spot, well-used as a campsite by thru-hikers later in the summer. "Wachipauka" is an Abenaki term for "mountain pond."

Mt. Mist rises beyond the western shore.

A wonderful spot to relax under a towering white pine..

A snooze was in order.

As predicted, clouds marking a frontal approach moved in late afternoon. On the hike out, right at the summit of Mt. Mist, the wind began roaring - some of the gusts were scary in those big hardwoods - and for a few minutes the rain came down in sheets. By the time I got my poncho out I was soaked. It was a wet walk out, but refreshing after the broiling sun earlier in the day. This is a very pleasant little nook in the mountains.


  1. Hi Steve,

    Used to maintained the AT section from Rt. 25C to Mt. Mist and well remember that big birch tree in the third photo. We spent a lot of time there with a chainsaw after the ice storm of '98! Wachipauka Pond is lovely. :)


  2. Hi Sue,

    That is a very nice section of trail. Cool that you used to work on it. That ice storm sure did make a mess back then.

    Oh, and congrats on your recent tour of a few mountains in these parts!


  3. I think that a "snow avoidance program" is an excellent course of action for this time of year! And unlike tax evasion, snow evasion/avoidance will not land you behind bars!

    And by the way, has anyone ever taken a count of all the places called Owls Head? Although I did not doubt for a moment that there is a spot called Owls Head that is located nearby to Mts. Mist and Webster-Slide, I did have to check a map to see where it's located. Looks like that would be an interesting little bushwhack to do in conjunction with Blueberry Mountain.

    Great report, as always, Steve!


  4. Thanks, John - that "other" Owl's Head was recently added to the National Forest. It is indeed an interesting whack in combination with Blueberry. Lots of red pine. Peregrine falcons often nest on its huge cliff face.