Friday, January 18, 2013


I spent an afternoon visiting several spots in Mad River Notch, the wild gap between East Osceola and Mt. Kancamagus: two slides on the flank of East Osceola, and the always-beautiful Upper Greeley Pond. It was in the upper 20s when I started out at the crack o' noon, but a cold front dropped the temp 15 degrees by the time I came out at 5:30.

One set of snowshoe tracks led up the Greeley Ponds Trail through three inches of powder atop a frozen, choppy track beneath, pocked with postholes from the thaw last weekend.

The junction of the Greeley Ponds Trail and Mt. Osceola Trail at the height-of-land in the Notch.

Some nice birches as I headed up the Mt. Osceola Trail.

About 1/4 mile up I bushwhacked through open woods to the north of the trail. Snow conditions were great for whacking - a layer of powder atop a solid base. On very steep slopes the base was too solid; here I took snowshoes off and kicked steps in with my boots.

Interesting rocky hardwood terrain up here.

A screened view of Mt. Huntington with North Hancock peeking over in back.

A gnarled old maple, a veteran of many winters.

I made my way up and across to the base of an icy slide at about 2700 ft., then followed my tracks back to the trail.

I always enjoy the views up to the cliffs on the NE spur of East Osceola as you ascend the lower part of the Mt. Osceola Trail.

An interesting trailside boulder. Near here I had a nice chat with MTNRUNR, a hiker from Vermont who was on his way down from East Osceola. He was the only other hiker on these trails today.

I continued up part of the steep section of the Mt. Osceola Trail to about 3300 ft., where I made my way out to the edge of a huge rock slab/slide just to the left of the trail. This view is looking up the slab.

Looking across the steep, icy slab.

I took my snowshoes off and kicked steps in the snow up the edge of the slab to get above the treetops for some views. This view looks across Mad River Notch to Mt. Kancamagus and the "K2 Cliff," with Upper Greeley Pond visible down through the trees.

The premier view was of Mt. Tripyramid, with Mt. Passaconaway and Scaur Peak to its left. On the far left is the "K1 Cliff" of Mt. Kancamagus. About 100 years ago both the K2 and K1 Cliffs had rough, short-lived trails to them.

Looking up where I'd been on the edge of the slab.

Descending the steep part of the trail was tedious with the frozen, uneven track beneath the new snow.

I bypassed the lower 1/4 mile of the Mt. Osceola Trail by snowshoeing down through open hardwoods. Conditions were perfect, and several whoops were heard in the Notch.

Just before reaching the Greeley Ponds Trail, I stepped across the tiny headwater of the mighty Mad River.

I continued down to Upper Greeley Pond. It was windswept and desolate at dusk, with a cold January night coming on.

Avoiding some thin ice near the inlet, I snowshoed down the pond to a vantage point on the SE shore, with an impressive view of the East Osceola ridges. The big slab I visited earlier is at top center.

Then it was time to follow my tracks back across the pond and head for home.

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