Wednesday, November 28, 2012


With a half-day off, a close-to-home bushwhack I had done several times before beckoned: the eastern slide on Big Coolidge Mountain in Lincoln. The lower part of this slide is gravelly/stony and pretty whacker-friendly and has some unusual views; the upper part consists of very steep, smooth slabs, pretty hairy terrain, especially this time of year. I've never ventured to the upper part. The partial view of the slide seen below was taken from a development road at Loon Mountain resort.

The approach to the slide is via the old Osseo Trail, officially abandoned in 1983 due to condo construction, but still sporadically maintained by local residents up to Whaleback Mountain.

In its lower part the old trail parallels Clear Brook.

After hiking up the old Osseo a ways, I struck off into the woods to climb to the slide. The lower part of the whack was mostly open hardwoods. Partway along I passed this neat boulder in the woods.

After pushing through some fairly dense growth, I emerged by these big rocks at the base of the slide.

Looking up the slide from the bottom.

The main lower part of the slide is quite open and easy to climb.

There are some interesting views, such as this close-up of looming Whaleback Mountain.

"East Whaleback" (also once locally called "Elephant Mountain") and Potash Knob, two spurs of Whaleback. Mt. Hitchcock and socked-in Mt. Hancock peer over the col.

Scar Ridge, seen across the valley.

The Osceolas.

The neatest view looks up the East Branch and Hancock Branch valleys all the way to Kancamagus Pass, in the top center of the photo, with Mt. Huntington on the L and Mt. Kancamagus and the Osceolas on the R.

A zoom on the distant view. From here Kancamagus Pass is just a saddle in a range of mountains. It makes you appreciate the magnitude of constructing that road.

There are several small sitting rocks on the slide, making a boot shot possible.

After an hour or so it was time to head down and get the store open. The usual route I take to the slide uses a couple of little "hogbacks" with nice woods.

A pleasant hardwood draw on the lower part of the whack.

Heading out on the old Osseo Trail, with Loon ski trails in the distance.


Saturday, November 24, 2012


A leisurely hike on a beautiful Thanksgiving Day, on one of the most rewarding short trails in the Whites. Carol, Cath and I set off late morning from the parking area off Passaconaway Rd., a short distance in from the Kanc Highway.

One of the many boulders along this aptly-named trail.

Some big trees in the predominantly hardwood forest along the loop.

From the first outlook area along the west side of the loop, a peek down at talus and open hardwoods at the base of the cliffs.

Looking up to the upper cliffs, known to rock climbers as the Far Cliff of the Sundown Ledges.
The view spur from the loop trail emerges on the open clifftop at the L.

Cath ambles along the view spur.

View of Sandwich Range and Swift River valley from the clifftop.

Good spot for a boot shot.

Carol enjoys one of Cath's awesome turkey sandwiches.

Looking up at Middle Moat and South Moat.

Cliffs on spur above loop trail.

View across Swift River valley to back side of White Ledge.

Veiled view of the cliffs from eastern part of loop.

Slanting November light in the hardwoods.

Boulder cave along the trail.

Squeezing through the boulder cave. A fun hike!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

MT. CRAWFORD: 11/20/12

An incredible stretch of sunny November weather continued into its second week. With a day off, I wanted to get up somewhere with a good view, using a trail that would have a minimum of ice. The dry Davis Path to the bare summit of Mt. Crawford, an old favorite, fit the bill. I also hoped to re-visit a dramatic off-trail clifftop that two friends and I went to back in 1996.

The Davis Path starts off by crossing this sturdy suspension footbridge, which is also utilized by the folks who live in the house on the north side of the river.

Looking upstream along the Saco from the bridge, to Frankenstein Cliff, Mt. Webster and Mt. Jackson.

A little bit of background on this historic trail.

The first part of the trail is an easy amble through hardwoods, with little hint of the climbing to come.

In less than half a mile you enter the Presidential Range-Dry River Wilderness.

Where the trail begins to climb, I encountered the first of several sets of rock steps built by the AMC trail crew this past summer. Impressive work!

The climb to the ridge of Crawford has never been one of my favorites. It is relentless, in one stretch gaining 1300 ft. in 0.9 mile, and is generally dark and gloomy. Looking up, it just seems to go on and on...

But the results are worth the effort, once you gain the first outlook ledge, with this southwesterly vista to Mt. Tremont and the Sandwich Range....

...and a look west at Mt. Carrigain beyond the Nancy Range.

The next part of the trail  is fun as it ascends over a series of granite ledges.

A sign points the way to the spur trail to the summit of Mt. Crawford.

From the junction the spur scales a huge granite slab.

The top of this slab is a fine viewpoint in its own right.

The mostly bare summit is a terrific spot. By moving around a bit you gain views in all directions. Today there was no wind, and no one for miles around. Amazing! This vista looks east to Kearsarge North, Mt. Parker and North Moat.

Many Crawford devotees like the northward view to Stairs Mountain and Mt. Washington best of all.

A zoom on the Giant Stairs above a huge ledge on Crawford Dome. Wildcats E and D and Middle Carter can be seen through the col.

Mt. Resolution with its trademark gravel slopes.

A closer look at Mt. Washington and its neighboring Presidential peaks.

The Southern Presidentials seen beyond the wild depths of the Sleeper Brook ravine.

The view of Crawford Notch from Mt. Crawford is another favorite of many.

On the other side of the summit, a fine southwestern panorama. After enjoying the views for more than an hour, I packed up and headed back to the Davis Path.

Continuing north on Davis Path towards Crawford Dome, I came across this big spruce blowdown. Luckily there were only two more downed trees in the section I traversed.

My objective was a clifftop at the head of the middle fork of Razor Brook, visible on the L side of this photo taken from the South Peak of Mt. Resolution. I had visited this spot once before, in March 1996, with bushwhacking cohorts Creston Ruiter and Cath Goodwin. We called it the "Razor's Edge." The long valley view from this spot captivated us on a sunny, late winter afternoon. I was finally going back to have another look.

It's not a long bushwhack, but it was thick and very shrubby, and led through confusing flat terrain. This photo shows the typical vegetation. It was much easier in late winter atop three feet of firm snow!

After some thrashing around (while choosing foot placement to try and minimize trampling of moss and lichen),  I found the cliff, which drops off into the head of the valley.

The view stretched for miles down the Razor Brook valley towards the town of Bartlett and the Moat-Attitash-Table-Bear ridge beyond. This little-known wilderness valley is completely trailless. There's a long inviting swath of hardwood leading up the valley. Until the 1950s there was a Razor Brook Trail leading up the W fork of the brook to the Davis Path NE of Mt. Crawford. For an account of a recent neat exploration in this area by John "1Happy Hiker" Compton, click here.  The 1916 AMC guidebook also mentions a USFS trail that came up the middle branch of the valley - the one seen here - and reached the Davis Path at the Crawford-Resolution col.

The perfect spot for the obligatory boot shot.

The South Peak of Resolution overlooks the head of the valley.

Looking SW along the edge of the cliff.

Mt. Parker guards the E side of the valley.

Back on the Davis Path, a view of Mt. Crawford from a big open ledge.

On the way down I made a short foray on off-trail ledges for a view of a wild-looking 2866-ft. SE spur of Mt. Crawford. Cath, Creston and I visited this before making our way to the Razor's Edge. Creston dubbed this nubble "Crawford's Bunion." This is a great area to explore, with ledges and cliffs galore. I'll be back for more.

For more on Mt. Crawford, click here.