Tuesday, January 18, 2011
CHENEY BROOK BEAVER PONDS: 1/18/11
I had hoped to get out early on this day off and beat an approaching snowstorm, but it was already snowing by 7:00 am. Since the planned hike was close to home and not too long, I decided to go anyway. I chose a longtime favorite snowshoe destination of mine, a beaver pond area on Cheney Brook (north of Scar Ridge) reached by a fairly short bushwhack off the East Pond Trail.
Snow was falling softly as I set out from the well-plowed parking area for East Pond Trail off the Kanc Highway.
A sign at the trailhead revealed that Ellen Ruggles is the adopter for this trail. Thanks, Ellen!
I was pleased to find a beautifully packed snowshoe track on the trail. For the first 0.8 mile it mostly follows the bed of an 1890s vintage J.E. Henry logging railroad.
The crossing of Pine Brook, where the trail leaves the railroad bed, had a good snow bridge.
About a mile and a half in I left the trail. After an initial thick patch the bushwhacking was pleasant through open spruce woods. The foot to foot and a half of snow was soft and unconsolidated.
Because of the soft snow, a route I often take out to the pond wasn't feasible today. To travel through this boggy area you need a a deep, firm snowpack.
I skirted the boggy area and carefully crossed this inlet brook. One snowshoe got wet, and the powdery snow immediately clumped up on it, adding several pounds of weight.
I found a pretty good route through the woods and out to the south edge of the open beaver pond.
This spot is written up as a short summer overnight bushwhack trip in 50 More Hikes in New Hampshire, by the late Daniel Doan, now updated by his daughter Ruth Doan MacDougall. In the book there's a photo of Dan fishing for brook trout on the north side of the pond.
This photo, taken on a visit to this pond three years ago, shows that there is a dramatic view of Mt. Osceola from the open beaver area. The Split Cliff is seen on the L.
I ducked back into open woods and headed across to visit a smaller beaver pond to the SW.
This is a neat, secluded spot, tucked in at the base of a northern spur of East Scar Ridge.
On the L side of this photo, looking SW, the summit ridge of East Scar is faintly visible through the falling snow. This NH Hundred Highest peak is, I might add, a miserable bushwhack, summer or winter.
On the way back across I pushed through an area of small snow-packed conifers.
The spot where I crossed the inlet brook, balancing on some fallen branches.
I picked up my tracks and followed them back to the trail through the open softwood forest.
On the way back down the East Pond Trail a short side excursion netted a nice vista along Pine Brook.
An interesting boulder along the railroad grade section of the trail. The snowshoeing was great on the way out, with an inch or two of fresh powder on the track. I was out by 10:30 am.