Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Took a morning walk along the Serendipity and Black Mountain Trails on the eastern end of the Loon X-C ski trail system. These are mostly used for mountain biking and horseback riding in summer, and a trail fee is required in winter. They are on WMNF land but parking is somewhat problematical in the adjacent private development, so this is primarily a walk for "locals." One option is to bike about 1.3 mi. from the Loon ski area parking lots.

The Serendipity trail follows along the East Branch of the Pemigewasset, and then the Hancock Branch. This view looks across the East Branch to Potash Knob and East Whaleback.

A massive bench of stone.

Nice walking on an old logging road.

Heavy rain overnight had the river raging, and two kayakers went bobbing by.

Vista downstream to Potash Knob.

Looking upstream to the confluence of the East Branch and the Hancock Branch.

The Hancock Branch was running strong.

Irene damage along the Hancock Branch. Easy to see how the Kanc Highway got washed out farther upstream.

A logjam from Irene. Yikes!

X-C trail sign.
Old logging bridge abutment. The map in Bill Gove's J.E. Henry's Logging Railroads (currently out of print, but due out in a new edition in spring 2012) shows a short spur line leading across the Hancock Branch at about this location, leading to Camp 13. Hard to tell from the map how high up the slope the camp might be, but there are surely a few logging camp aficionados who know.

Looking upstream on the Hancock Branch.

I made a return loop on Black Mountain Road, pleasant walking on an old logging road. According to Gove's book, the slopes of Black Mountain were logged by J.E. Henry in the 1890s, and again by the Franconia Paper Co. from 1953-55, when a Black Mountain Camp was built. Gove says there is evidence that this area may have even been logged in pre-Henry days by river driver Nicholas Norcross of Lowell, MA.

There are a couple of branching logging roads that provide steeper and more challenging routes for X-C skiers.

The "other" Hancock Loop Trail.

A gentle downhill amble back to the start of the loop, 2.36 mi. total according to my GPS.
Fine late fall walking, between the snows.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Since this tramper has not been able to spend any significant time on the trail for the past three weeks, we'll post an occasional trip report from pre-Mountain Wandering blog days. This one is from October 2008 and involves some exploring in the vicinity of the north end of Flat Mountain Pond, in one of the more remote and interesting nooks of the Sandwich Range.

It was a gorgeous fall day from start to finish. I launched the journey from the eastern trailhead for the Flat Mountain Pond Trail, starting at Whiteface Intervale Rd. The first easy mile on Flat Mountain Pond Trail, on newer and then older logging roads, leads to this nice view of Mt. Whiteface from an opening on a bank high above the Whiteface River.

Farther along, the trail crosses the Whiteface River - not easy at high water - and follows along beside it.

This is a nice section of walking up this valley.

After recrossing the river three miles in or so, it leads up through a corridor of hobblebush hell.

From the bog at the north end of Flat Mountain Pond, there's a long view to Sandwich Dome and its sprawling spur ridges.

The north end of Flat Mountain Pond - a watery gem of the Sandwich backcountry.

From the NW corner of the pond, a spur line of the old Beebe River logging railroad (1917-1942) leads a short distance to a pretty beaver pond with a view north towards the remote and mysterious Lost Pass, which is flanked by the northern of the two Flat Mountains on the left and a western spur of East Sleeper on the right.

A closer look at the northern Flat Mountain.

Relaxin' along the railroad grade.

Looking back down along the beaver pond/meadow.

Heading north up the railroad grade towards Lost Pass.

The brook that drains down from the pass.

A lost piece of rail.

Looking across another, smaller beaver meadow towards Flat Mountain.

Boggy country out here.

From here I struck off into the woods in search of a small, elusive ledge on a southwestern spur of East Sleeper. I'd spotted this small granite cliff from other vantage points in the Flat Mountain Pond area. Parts of the whack led through beauitful birch glades that grew up after the great 1923 Flat Mountain Pond fire, which ignited in slash from the Beebe River logging railroad operation.

After a rather lengthy zigzagging search across the broad ridge, I found the ledge and its view of Flat Mountain Pond resting on its high plateau, and Sandwich Dome beyond.

A closer look at the pond.

Looking SE down the Whiteface River valley to the Ossipee Range.

Nearby to the south, the southern Flat Mountain.

A golden glade on the way back down off the ridge.

Before heading home, I poked around the site of Camp 11 on the Beebe River line.

A crosscut saw blade nicely displayed on a bed frame. (A reminder that it is illegal to remove historic artifacts from the WMNF, plus it deprives others of the opportunity to see them.)

Another blade, almost buried after 80 years.

Late afternoon light on the beaver pond and Lost Pass. The beauty and remoteness of this area has drawn me back quite a few times over the years.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


For various reasons, I've been pretty much off the trails for the last couple of weeks. Needing to get out in the woods, I headed up to Kinsman Notch, the "other" notch in the Lincoln area, for a brief outing.

First stop was the trailhead parking area for Beaver Brook Trail at the height-of-land in the notch, where you get a good view up to the Beaver Brook ravine, with Mt. Blue peering over in the back.

At the edge of the parking lot is a display about the amazing survival and rescue story of the WWII bomber crash on the side of Mt. Waternomee in January 1942.

I took a short hike up Beaver Brook Trail to the first cascade, which is reached in just 0.4 mile. Hard to beat for a quick waterfall jaunt, only 200 ft. of elevation gain.

Then I drove a short distance north to the Beaver Pond Scenic Area, probably the prettiest spot in Kinsman Notch. Many years ago, before a small concrete dam was built, this was known as Beaver Meadow. The pond is fed by Beaver Brook.

This wild crag rises to the west of the pond.

I crossed the stream - the start of the Wild Ammonoosuc River - at a ledgy sluice below the dam.

A maze of beaten paths is found behind the west shore. Here Beaver Pond lives up to its name.

A shoreside ledge provided a closer look at the great whale-like outcrop that juts into the pond.

This is one of the great pondside ledges in the Whites. It has the classic shape of a roche moutonnee, sloping on the north side and plucked off by a glacier on the south.

The view north to the parking area.

The rock has a beautiful wide water view to the south, backed by Mt. Waternomee (L) and Mt. Jim (R).

The view from the dam.

I headed southeast back down the notch to the first roadside pulloff, where you can see the ragged cliffs that rise above Lost River.

There is a cascade by this pulloff that I've driven by dozens of times. Today, I took a closer look.

The distant view from this pulloff includes (L to R): Mt. Osceola, Breadtray Ridge, Middle & South Tripyramid and the Sleepers through Thornton Gap, and Mt. Tecumseh.

Across the road to the NE is a trailless ridge (2909 ft.) named "Lost River Mountain" on an old view panorama from North Woodstock. The rock face on the lower R is known to climbers as the "Monkey Cliffs."

A closer look at the Monkey Cliffs. I once took my unsuspecting nephew Mike, then a teenager, on a steep snowshoe bushwhack up the hardwood slope on the L and out to the top of the cliff. He loved it!

And now, a blast from the past...a few photos from a bushwhack to Lost River Mountain in July 2008.

First view down the valley to the SE.

Some great fern whacking.

Looking back from a Monkey Cliff ledge to the massive ridges of Moosilauke.

A vista along the upper Monkey Cliffs - there are several sets of cliffs and ledges along this ridge.

Hancocks in the distance.

A perch with a look down at a lower knob, one of several labeled the "Hedgehog Peaks" on the old view panorama.

More open woods travel. Generally good going on this ridge, though there was the occasional thick stretch.

Hazy view to the SE.

From a ledge on a higher shoulder, my favorite view of Kinsman Notch. In the background, L to R: Waternomee, Jim, Moosilauke, and Blue.

The summit of Lost River Mountain.

On the way down, a ledge and cascade on a nameless brook, one of many hidden treasures in Kinsman Notch.