Wednesday, February 27, 2013


On a cloudy, almost spring-like day, Carol and I headed to one of our favorite winter destinations: Bridal Veil Falls on Coppermine Brook, tucked into a deep ravine on the back side of Cannon Mountain. Though there are no open views on this hike, it is a beautiful woodland ramble, and the icy amphitheatre surrounding the falls is a picturesque scene worth returning to often.

The Coppermine Trail was originally opened by Appalachian Mountain Club trampers in 1881. The lower part of the trail follows old woods roads at easy grades. The snow today was wet and sticky, but we did not have problems with it clumping on our snowshoes.

About halfway along the trail is this nice spot beside Coppermine Brook. There are small ledgy cascades here in summer.

I love the open hardwood area the trail traverses about two-thirds of the way to the falls.

Some impressive work by a Pileated Woodpecker.

The USFS Coppermine Shelter was in good shape, nice and clean inside.

Approaching the falls through snow-drenched conifers.

Looking up at the amphitheatre from the lower part of the falls.

Carol climbing the snow ramp that leads to the shelf at the base of the upper falls. This is easier to access in winter than in summer, when there are wet, slippery ledges to negotiate.

Someone had placed an ornament on a tree below this beautiful blue ice formation. It put Carol back into the Christmas spirit.

We love the view looking up at the tiers of ice on the upper deck, with the snow-laden spruces guarding the rim and the frozen and buried main waterfall on the right.

A view from the side.

A neat cave at the base of the cliffs.

A happy snowshoer.

We took a nearly hour-long lunch break here, and had the place to ourselves.

A tall spruce at the base of the waterfall.

Heading back through the hardwoods.

On the way down we did a little bushwhacking along the brook. The Coppermine Trail is always a rewarding hike in winter.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


The Observatory forecast promised sunny skies, light winds, and summit temperatures topping out around 20 degrees - a classic "Presi day." I shelved preliminary plans to climb wooded Mt. Waumbek (what was I thinking?) and headed for an old winter favorite, Mount Pierce in the southern Presidentials. This is a great winter trek, with miles of snow-draped conifers, wide views and a taste of the alpine zone. The loop past Mizpah Hut adds more views and some nice woods ridge walking. Cath Goodwin would start out later and catch up with me along the way.

The Mt. Clinton Road leading up to Crawford Path parking wasn't plowed, so I parked near the Highland Center and crossed Route 302 to the start of the Crawford Path proper. I strapped on my snowshoes and headed up the softly-packed trail. I was surprised to see a foot of fresh champagne powder in the woods, which must have accumulated over the previous few days. Near the start of the trail is a sign giving a brief history of this venerable mountain route.

At the junction with Crawford Connector I chatted with "Midnight Mike" Bromberg, who was heading up with a friend for an overnight at Mizpah Campsite. Mike has the distinction of having stood on the summit of every NH 4000-footer at midnight in winter. He was also one of the earliest 4000-footer "Grid" finishers. His cartography skills created the great Wonalancet Out Door Club map of the Sandwich Range, and he's made a similar map for Mt. Monadnock. As seen below, a couple of other snowshoers were heading up the Crawford Path.

An interesting burl beside the trail.

Higher up, the trail was an endless winding gallery of snow-plastered evergreens.

Deep powder in the woods beside the trail.

Great snowshoeing conditions today. A steady moderate climb up to the Mizpah Cutoff junction, which always seems to take longer than it should.

Winter wonderland stuff.

Above the Mizpah Cutoff junction, the clouds were breaking, some blue was showing through.

As the trail contoured through the scrub high on the side of Mt. Pierce, I got my first peeks at the freshly whitened peaks of Eisenhower and Washington. A Presi day, indeed!

The trail approaching treeline.

Trail sign at the junction below the summit of Pierce.

Relaxing here were veteran peakbagger Anne Gwynne (on the left) and her friend Pat. Anne was a longtime member of the AMC Four Thousand Footer Committee, has led many AMC hikes, and has completed a round of the NH 4000-footers after the age of 70. They were taking it easy today, just doing Mt. Pierce. 

While I was chatting with Anne and Pat, Cath Goodwin emerged from the trees, and we soon headed up through the alpine zone on a bony stretch of trail to the summit of Pierce.

The view back from the summit, where we took a long break in the warm sun.

A couple of Gray Jays soon found us, and before long a third one came along.

Cath and a new friend.

This looks like one satisfied customer.

Where's the food? They are handsome, if somewhat demanding birds. It's always a joy to encounter them on a summit.

A snowshoer came partway up towards the summit, then turned around and descended.

We followed a drifted little passageway over to a view into the dark recesses of the Dry River valley, with Mt. Isolation and the long crest of Mt. Davis closing in the other side. That valley is wilder than ever with the Dry River Trail out of commission thanks to Tropical Storm Irene.

Rocky Branch Ridge (L) and Mt. Isolation (R).

Taking it all in...what a day!

Cath takes a last look at the view before we head out for the loop.

Heading south on the Webster Cliff Trail with partial SW views.

The snow was deep in here, and only partly broken, as we meandered through a tunnel of trees.Winter at its finest!

Many peaks on the skyline.

Low bridge.

Looking back from the semi-open south summit of Pierce.

Drifting along the trail.

Approaching the SW outlook - a view of the mighty Carrigain.

This is my favorite spot on Pierce, revealing wave after wave of dark, snow-speckled mountains.

North Moat, Stairs, Resolution, Crawford and Chocorua.

Mt. Jackson and the Sandwich Range.

The sprawling ridges of Mt. Hancock.

Great spot for a prolonged break.

Slide-shuffling down the steep pitch towards Mizpah Hut.

We tromped around in the deep powder by the boarded-up hut, then took the Mizpah Cutoff back to Crawford Path to complete our loop. What a great day in the mountains!