Sunday, December 16, 2012


Taking advantage of bare ground and a sunny, mid-30s forecast, Cath Goodwin and I headed to one of our favorite wild nooks in the White Mountains - the long, trailless ridges and valleys on the SW side of Mt. Tecumseh. I'd been to the view ledges on the lower Bald Mountain ridge (the long SW spur off West Tecumseh) several times before, and knew we would have some fine hardwood whacking partway up the ridge and especially in the Haselton Brook valley below.

Our approach route led through an area of old apple orchards in the WMNF.

After crossing Haselton Brook on a logging road bridge, we started our whack up the Bald Mountain ridge, with easy to moderate grades in open mixed woods, then hardwoods. We came upon this beech with its bark gnawed off at the base. Porcupine, we think.

There were many bear trees in these woods. Cath noticed this particularly striking claw pattern on a beech.

Sunny open hardwoods!

We climbed through an oak grove to our first view ledge on a shoulder, with a framed look SW to the ridges of Carr Mtn.

We took a break at a nearby spot with a view of a 3400-ft. peak we call SW Green (L) and Hogback Mtn. (R), both trailless. For a while we watched a Red-Tailed Hawk soar in a circle high above the ridges.

Just beyond the ledgy shoulder was a beautiful hardwood col, a la Catskills.

Another good bear tree.

Heading up an amazingly open slope leading to a steep, rocky climb to the next level of the ridge.

Beech feet with long claws.

Picking a way up the rocky slope.

Up on the next shoulder we found our first wide-open view ledge.

We worked our way out to it and took a nice lunch break in the sun.

The Haselton Brook hardwoods march right up to the base of the cliffs.

Looking up the Haselton Brook valley to SW Green (the rounded peak on the R) and Mt. Tecumseh (the little nubble on the far L).

Across the valley to Hogback Mtn. (L) and Fisher Mtn. (R).

Behind the cliffs, Cath, a professional gardener/landscaper, identified this rock garden as Christmas Ferns. Very appropriate less than two weeks before Christmas.

We popped out on a series of ledges as we continued N along the ridge.

As we whacked along the conifer-clad crest, Cath found a Map Adventures waterproof trail map on the ground, dropped by a previous adventurer. Since there are no listed peaks in this area, we figure visitors are few and far between on this ridge.

Another ledge.

Traversing some rugged terrain.

Varied whacking conditions - some thick, some fairly open.

Around 2:00 we arrived at the prize ledge of the day, at the N end of the lower part of the Bald Mountain ridge. What a great spot in the afternoon sun, gazing across the valley at the remote spur ridges of Green Mountain.

In 1995, shortly after Cath had introduced me to this wonderful area with a climb up Fisher Mtn., she, Cindy DiSanto and I snowshoed to the top of the ledgy shoulder seen below. What a wild spot! This may be what Moses Sweetser called "Spring Mtn." in his classic late 1800s guidebook to the White Mountains. He described three routes to Tecumseh from the Elkins Farm in the Mill Brook valley. One of the routes traversed this valley up to a pair of mineral springs and an accompanying spring house. (We hope to try and find some trace of this on a future trip.) The route then headed up Spring Mtn., which "is capped by a remarkable ledge, whose sides are cut with masonic precision; and on the NE is a long and beautiful cascade and clear fall, where a little rill plunges down the sharp slope."

Looking up the valley to the upper Bald Mountain ridge, West Tecumseh, the valley headwall, and Mt. Tecumseh.

Taking in the view to the S down the valley towards Dickey Notch and the Campton Range.

Before leaving, I took the obligatory boot shot, with my new Cabela Avalanche winter boots (purchased on the recommendation of Kevin Rooney on a Views from the Top thread).

We dropped steeply down from the col just N of the last view ledge, then descended into the Haselton Brook valley through endless hardwoods.

We half-expected a Saw-Whet Owl to be peering out from this hole.

Around 1800 ft. we traversed a wonderfully open sugar maple glade that I remembered from a 2009 snowshoe trek through here with John "1HappyHiker" Compton.

John and I had called it "Hardwood Heaven."

A Pileated Woodpecker had been hard at work.

Cath spotted this "field goal tree."

On the lower part of our whack we followed along attractive Haselton Brook.

A view of the ledgy part of the Bald Mountain ridge, taken from Fisher Mtn. across the valley, with the hardwoods of the Haselton Brook valley well-displayed. It was a great day spent whacking in this quiet, beautiful corner of the mountains.


  1. Steve, what a truly excellent report of a truly excellent adventure! That Haselton Brook area is a gem. But as you speculate in your report, I also tend to think that visitors are few and far between, especially since there are no listed peaks in this area. Therefore, it was indeed surprising that Cat found that Map Adventures trail map during your bushwhack. Go figure!

    I loved those two adjacent photos in your report which shows such a stark contrast between the bare-ground conditions you and Cath experienced in the sugar maple glade, versus the deep snowpack that you and had when we were there.


    1. Thanks, John - that is certainly one of my favorite areas in the Whites. It was quite a surprise to come across that map! The colors on the folded-out part were faded, so I guess it had been there for a while. Maybe we can get back in there this winter.


  2. I can why you like that area Steve. A views ledge paradise it looks like. I certainly will have to do some exploring around there.

    Thanks for sharing,

    1. Thanks, Joe - you will definitely enjoy it out there!


  3. Steve

    Thanks for finding my map!!! I figured if anyone found it it would be you. I was up there earlier this year. Unfortunately I didn't make it up to the grand view ledge. So you say you and Cath descended via the south face of Bald Mt ridge? I guess it is not all cliffs after all.

    Sign me up for your visit to that cliff across the way. I like the looks of those ledges across the way on Green spur.

    After the Catskill like col I ascended via south face and encountered steep ledges so I wasted too much time trying to ascend them when I retraced my steps and ascended via another route. Hence I ran out of time.


    1. Ray,

      We were wondering whose map that was. I have it at the store if you want to claim it. It's a bit faded!

      There is a break in the cliffs at the little col just north of the last/best view ledge. It's a steep way down but passable, no cliffs to negotiate.

      We hope to re-visit the ledges on "Spring Mountain" next May, and perhaps find some trace of the old spring house. Lots of wildflowers out in those hardwoods.

      At the Catskill-like col we used an "around-the-corner" route to the left that got us through the steep stuff without hitting any cliffs. There is some rugged terrain out there.


  4. P.S. I was wondering what route you and John took to get up to Bald mt Ridge. I had written off approaching from Haselton Brook, but thanks to this TR I know there are cliff-less routes from that side. Thanks for the insights. I too love this area as it is so close to our new place in Plymouth.

    1. Ray,

      John and I used that col just north of the best view ledge as both our ascent and descent route. It was steep but doable on snowshoes. The trickiest part on the ascent is figuring out where to make your move up to the col; from below it all kind of looks the same as you peer up the hardwood slope.


  5. Steve

    I got a hearty chuckle out of you guys finding my lost map! Hardwood heaven more than describes that south slope of Bald Mountain Ridge. Your bootshot shows very well remarkable contrast between valley walls. One side is hardwood heaven while the side across the brook is distinctly softwood in character.

    You inspired me to check out the Sweetser Guide on Google. Very interesting reading. He writes about 3 routes to Tecumseh. The thing with the spring house is that it is likely to be within walking or piping distance to the farmhouse that it serves. It is not likely to be as far up valley as "Spring Mt" unless the Elkins place was actually located pretty far up the valley of haselton Brook.

    There is a spring house just south of Rattlesnakes that used to serve the dwellings located souple of tenths of mile below - not likely to be 1 mile or more away.