Friday, January 6, 2012


The early winter snow drought has left the trails at lower elevations in the Whites treacherously icy. Traction is needed on even the easiest of trails. To check the conditions at Lincoln Woods, I took a morning walk up the East Side Trail. On a midweek morning in early January, the place was nearly deserted.

A new composite material sign for East Side Trail.

Wall-to-wall ice on the gravel road, which is open in summer for vehicle use only for Forest Service folks for management of the Franconia Brook Tentsite, 2.6 mi. up the road. Microspike material from start to finish.

This view of the East Branch a half-mile in was opened up by Tropical Storm Irene.

As shown on a post-Irene post on this blog, parts of the Pine Island Trail were obliterated by the storm. The Forest Service does plan to reopen this delightful, easy path, which Carol and I had just adopted in July, by moving it farther back from the river.

At the one-mile mark, the road crossed a small brook coming off the slope of West Hitchcock. Amazingly,during Irene the brook moved this culvert some distance downstream...

...creating this washout. Latest word from the Forest Service is that there are plans to construct a bridge here in spring/early summer of 2012.

One the way back I did a little whacking in the open hardwood forest on the east side of the trail. These open woods extend quite a ways up the slope of West Hitchcock, which I took advantage of years ago on a couple of whacks to the steep, slabby, slide on the west face of West Hitchcock.

That slide, seen in the upper left of this photo from Lincoln Woods Trail, is pretty tricky to get out on because of overlapping slabs. I did find a perch near the top with a view west down the valley towards Lincoln. That was during pre-digital camera photo days, so no pics to share here.

As I made my way parallel to the East Side Trail, I passed this little feeder brook coming off West Hitchcock. Just a nice little forest vignette.

I worked my way down to where Pine Island Brook (on the R) feeds into the East Branch.

Looking downstream on the East Branch. A long way to go before the river freezes over.

A tangle from Irene seen below the Lincoln Woods Trail. It's always amazing to see the power of the water from that storm.


  1. Steve, this is undoubtedly our "winter of discontent" with the current snow drought situation. Your report certainly illustrates current conditions, as well as a sad testimony to the destructive forces of Hurricane Irene.

    On a more positive note, it is great news to read in your report that the Forest Service plans to reopen the Pine Island Trail that you and Carol had adopted in July, just prior to Irene.


  2. Hi John,

    This reminds me of the winter of 1979-80, when several of us went down to Mt. Snow Ski Area to work for the winter. There was little snowmaking back then, and the ski area didn't open for good til about January 20th, if I recall correctly!


  3. Steve, is this the lowest snowfall you can remember (at this stage of the winter), or have other winters--like '79-'80--been as bad?

    Haven't the past couple of winters featured higher-than-normal snowfalls? Do you know of a site that shows snowfall by year?

  4. Steve,

    I think we got a little spoiled the last couple of winters with all the snow, though I was getting tired of shoveling it! This certainly is reminiscent of '79-'80, and I can recall other winters with similar patterns. Haven't found a site with that kind of interesting historical perspective.


  5. Nice report -- I'm fond of the East Side Trail, the girls and I used to hike it when we felt like getting out but didn't want to do anything big. Haven't been there since Irene. Thanks for the great photos.

  6. Thanks, Trish - it's a lot quieter than the Lincoln Woods side, and there are some pretty cool spots along the river past the tentsite area and the gate.