Wednesday, January 29, 2014


The snow conditions have been great off-trail in the Kinsman Notch area, so I returned there for the third in a series of snowshoe bushwhacks to lower elevation viewpoints. On this trek I went up and back on a ridge I had previously traversed in the spring of 1995. This almost pure-hardwood ridge runs across the center of the picture below; two of the three view ledges I visited are visible.

There was no place to park on Rt. 112 by the base of the ridge, so I parked at a plowed pullout 0.4 mi. up the road that is used by ice climbers heading up to the popular "Luck of the Irish" climbing area. From here I could look up to my target ridge on the R and the "Monkey Cliffs" on the L. These are so named because apparently there is, or was, the profile of a monkey seen on the rock face, but I'm not sure exactly where.

It was pretty cold, with the temp around 10 above, but the sun and blue sky were wonderful - a good day for hardwood whackin'.

Snow conditions were excellent - a few inches of powder atop a solid base.

My route briefly followed an old logging road well up on the ridge.

The finest ledge perch on the knob faces west and offers a nice view of Mts. Waternomee, Jim and Blue, all in a row. On the L is a lower spur of Waternomee.

A zoom peering into the heart of Kinsman Notch. The cliffs and plateau I visited on 1/23 can be seen to the R of center, fairly low down under the set of sheer crags.

Looking down the face of the view ledge.

After enjoying a lunch break on the sunny (but breezy) ledge, I continued up to the top of the 2100-ft. knob, which bears a ledgy cap of spruces.

The "summit" of the knob.

I dropped down to a ledge on the NE side of the knob with a fine view of the Franconia Range.

The sharp peaks of Mts. Lafayette and Lincoln.

Mt. Liberty and Mt. Flume.

Looking east to the Hancocks, the town of Lincoln, and Loon Mtn. Ski Area.

Next I traversed across to the plateau-like hardwood col between the knob and the Monkey Cliffs.

There was some deep drifted powder in here!

Looking up at some rockfall below the upper Monkey Cliffs.

There are some cool perches up there, one of which is especially airy and requires a straddling maneuver to access.

 Walk the plank!

A lichen-crusted boulder at the base of the cliffs.

A sheer rock face.

Open woods and deep (by this winter's standard) snow.

On the way down I revisited the west-facing ledge, which also has a view south to Mt. Cushman and Green Mountain.

On the descent I worked my way out to a somewhat precarious lower ledge for a look at the lower Monkey Cliffs.

Across the valley I could see the "Luck of the Irish" climbing area.

Last view of the day, Rt. 112 winding up towards Kinsman Notch.

Friday, January 24, 2014


I continued some off-trail snowshoe exploring in Kinsman Notch on another cold but beautiful day. Mine was the only car in the Beaver Brook Trail parking lot when I set off late morning; the temperature was 3 above.

One of the day's objectives was the cliff on the left end of the lower ridge in front. I also wanted to get a close-up look at the impressive craggy knob in the back. And I hoped to see some large yellow birches on the plateau between the cliffs and the crag that are shown in the Kinsman Notch gallery on photographer Erin Paul Donovan's website,

I went a short way up the Beaver Brook Trail and then headed off into open hardwoods.

A frozen waterfall on a small tributary of Beaver Brook.

The snowshoeing was pretty steep on this slope, but the woods were open.

An Ent tree  loomed overhead as I approached the bottom of the cliffs.

A side view of the cliffs.

I saw a shark nose with teeth. John Sobetzer, a Facebook viewer, saw a pirate. Yup, now I see that, too.

There were no safe open perches atop these cliffs, but I found a unique standing view down Kinsman Notch, with Scar Ridge, Osceola, Tripyramid, Tecumseh and Sandwich Dome on the horizon.

Looking down at my lonely car in the Beaver Brook parking lot.

A good dropoff below.

I circled around to a higher clifftop with a flat and comfortable perch. From one side, there was a view of Mt. Waternomee across the Beaver Brook basin.

This spot had a little different angle down Kinsman Notch.

Mt. Tecumseh, its ledgy southern spurs, and Sandwich Dome.

The spectral Tripyramids and Sleepers seen through Thornton Gap.

The Dilly Cliffs (L) and Monkey Cliffs (R), with Scar Ridge beyond.

I had an initial snowy glimpse up to the craggy knob, but there were better views of it to come.

At the base of the knob, on a 2500-ft. plateau, I found a lovely birch glade.

From here there was an impressive look up to the crags.

A magical place in winter.

There was a foot of snow in here - powdery on top, firm beneath - best snowshoeing I've found so far this season.

Snowshoeing northward across the plateau, I found some of those big trees, including this maple...

and this old yellow birch.

While making my way out to some lower cliffs, I crossed an open boggy area with an imposing view of the craggy knob. This impressive feature deserves a name. Perhaps it could be called "Jakey's Crag," after woods boss James "Jakey" McGraw, who figured out a way to log the near-inaccessible spruce up behind the cliffs using a donkey engine and cable line.

Late in the afternoon I made my way out to the lower cliffs overlooking Beaver Pond and the heart of Kinsman Notch.

Mt. Tecumseh and Sandwich Dome seen through the Notch.

Looking across at Mt. Waternomee.

For my descent I circled northward into the Stark Falls Brook drainage, catching a glimpse of crags on the north side of the valley.

I ended with a chilly traverse of solidly frozen Beaver Pond.

A final look at the cliffs and Jakey's Crag looming up behind.