Thursday, July 31, 2014


A return to this favorite mountain, enjoying an "outer loop" along the Ridge Trail, Beaver Brook Trail, Carriage Road and lower Hurricane Trail. Along the way I visited the four Trailwrights 4000-footers on the Moose: Jim, Blue, main summit and South Peak.

 At the end of Ravine Lodge Road I could see that the summit was in the clouds, and it remained in and out until mid-afternoon. I made a very leisurely ascent in the hopes that the clouds would clear and the summit would be quiet late in the day. It paid off on both counts.

The railing on this bridge over the Baker River had been repaired since I came here to hike the Al Merrill Loop a couple of weeks earlier.

Neat meadowy spot along the lower Ridge Trail.

Serious washout from the late June cloudburst that dumped 7 inches of rain in Kinsman Notch.

Bed frame at the site of Parker-Young logging camp #3 along the Ridge Trail.

The Baker was rocking after heavy rain the night before.

The Ridge Trail is a quiet and lovely route to the upper ridges of the Moose. This section is along the slope of Mt. Waternomee.

I called this shoulder of Mt. Jim the "Emerald Plateau."

The wooded summit of Mt. Jim is not completely viewless.

High point of the trail on the flat summit of Jim; the apparent true summit is just a few yards off the trail via a herd path.

Mt. Blue in sight ahead from a fir wave.

Rough and rocky footing on the Beaver Brook Trail along the rim of Jobildunk Ravine.

A peek down into Jobildunk Ravine from Beaver Brook Trail. Last winter I joined friends John and Chris for a memorable snowshoe adventure into the floor of the ravine, including a visit to the beaver pond seen here.

Layers of mountains to the southeast.

I followed the soft, well-worn, meandering herd path to the summit of Mt. Blue. Up there are some wonderful glades of old balsam firs.

Emerging above treeline on the main summit, I found lots of the hardy Mountain Sandwort along the trail.

Long Pond and Black Mountain from the north end of Moosilauke's open summit ridge.

The Hancocks and Mt. Carrigain loom large beyond Lincoln, location of our home and store. Festivities marking the town's 250th Anniversary are going on all this week.

A lone hiker makes his way up the north ridge.

Mt. Blue and the Franconia Range, with the cloud deck hanging above the summit.

Hiker and newly-rebuilt cairns, replacing some that were vandalized last winter.

Long view to the west; several Adirondack peaks were visible 90-100 miles away.

Sugarloaf in the Benton Range, the Signal Mountain Range, and Camel's Hump on the horizon.

The Kinsmans and Franconia Ridge.

Shelter from the storm.

The summit, where the only other hiker was the Dartmouth Outing Club alpine steward. She headed down after a while, and I had the place to myself, in the middle of summer, with unlimited views.

New summit sign, replacing the one stolen last winter. 

Obligatory summit benchmark photo.

Looking towards South Peak, my next objective.

The flat expanse of East Peak, with the vast view beyond. There's no better mountain to be atop on a crystal-clear day.

Heading south on the Carriage Road.

Alpine tundra.

Finely-built cairns.

A view to the DOC Ravine Lodge, far down in the valley.

More new signs at the Carriage Road/Glencliff Trail junction, where the signs were also stolen by vandals last winter. Thanks DOC!

The main summit from South Peak side trail.

The classic South Peak view of Tunnel Brook Notch with the slides of Mt. Clough.

Mud Pond and its nameless beaver pond neighbors.

Two common themes on Moosilauke - a slide and fir waves.

Walking into the views coming down the Carriage Road.

The collapsed remains of the old DOC Wadchu Shelter near Carriage Road. This was built in 1935 at the top of the famed Hell's Highway ski trail.

The footing on the Carriage Road is markedly better below the junction with Snapper Trail, where most of the traffic turns off.

Fading daylight, but I had to squeeze in a photo of the "Hardwood Cathedral" along the Carriage Road below 2800 ft.

Delightful birch-lined walking along the lower Hurricane Trail, which follows an old road back towards Ravine Lodge with an abrupt little climb at the end. Just after joining Gorge Brook Trail, I made a short side trip to see the Class of '97 Swimming Hole on the Baker River. I made it out without resorting to the headlamp, wrapping up another great day on the Moose.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


This week I had the chance to do two off-trail explorations on brooks plunging down the slopes of Mt. Waternomee, a 3940-ft. peak on the long ridge that curves eastward from Mt. Moosilauke. Like several other streams on the slopes of the Moosilauke massif, these are richly rewarding with cascades.

On Thursday morning, based on a tip from a fellow Kinsman Notch enthusiast (thanks, Erin!), I explored up along a tributary of Lost River. For a ways above a near-roadside cascade, the tributary was just a basic rocky mountain stream.

 Then some small, attractive cascades began appearing.

The brookbed became ledgier, looking promising.

With an inch of rain the previous night, the water flow was better than it had been in recent weeks.

There was an interesting table-like ledge formation below this cascade.

Then I came to the base of this big and beautiful waterslide, which slithers down through the slabs for a hundred feet of elevation. There were rock seats by the pool suitable for admiring the scene.

View from the seat.

Zooming in a bit.

I made my way up along the edge.

Above the waterslide and around a bend in the stream was another attractive cascade.

View of the cascade from a convenient rock seat.

Looking back down the brook.

Returning beside slabs on the waterslide.

Part of the Lost River cliffs could be glimpsed from the middle of the streambed.

Some nice hardwood whacking on the way down.

Lost River cliffs from a (leach?) field down near Rt. 112.

The next afternoon, while Carol kindly watched the store, I went on a longer bushwhack looking for potential big cascades on the north branch of Walker Brook. Several times I've noticed this drop high on the eastern flank of Mt. Waternomee from the shore of Elbow Pond.

I went partway up the well-trodden route to the B-18 bomber crash site to launch the bushwhack, starting with the Walker Brook logging road. Here a bit of Mt. Waternomee can be seen looming ahead.

Erosion from the seven-inch rainfall in late June.

Pleasant walking under a hardwood canopy.

The bomber crash path crosses the north branch of Walker Brook, which I would rejoin nearly a thousand feet higher.

The path provides a glimpse of a cascade sometimes called Airmen's Falls, in honor of the crew of the B-18. In May of 2013 I visited the bomber crash site.

The whack started out in open hardwoods, but the rest of it was not easy. Maybe it seemed a little worse because it was late afternoon and I was feeling a bit pressed for time.

After whacking up and across a rough slope, I carefully picked out a steep route down to the brook to some nice cascades at 2450 ft.

I worked my way steeply upstream, sometimes on the rocks of the brookbed, other times in the dense woods along the edge.

Cascade close-up.

An intimate view while scrambling up the brookbed.

Looking down the brook.

Nice mossy ledge.

At around 2600 ft. I came to the base of the big upper drop, the part visible from Elbow Pond, where the brook cascades down through a gigantic sluice. If this impressive formation were on a trail, it would probably have a name and be a popular destination.

A wider view of the ledges.

A closer look at the upper cascade. This would have been quite a spectacle after the 7" rainstorm. I saw many places that were scoured out along the edge of the brookbed.

A tumble of rocks below.

Above the base of the great sluice, the terrain was cliffy and impossibly rough on the south side of the brook. So I clambered up through the ridiculously steep but doable woods on the north side. I ended up high above the top of the sluice. There was no way to get down there safely to catch the view out to the east.

I was able to squeeze down to the brink for one look at Elbow Pond through the trees, though the air was amazingly hazy. I later learned that the haze was due to forest fires in western Canada.

A look out to the long ridge of Green Mountain, an eastern satellite of Mt. Cushman.

I did not want to descend the steep, rough terrain I'd come up through, so I pushed upward another 100 feet in elevation until the pitch eased off a bit at 2850 ft. Here I was able to cross back over the brook as it issues from the upper slopes of Mt. Waternomee. The total height of the series of cascades was about 400 ft.

After bobbing and weaving my way down through some dark conifer woods, I was delighted to find an old tote road, presumably from the early 1900s, angling southward down and across the slope. I soon plopped down in the ferns for a much-needed break. Steep bushwhacking is thirsty work!

I followed this tote road for a half-mile across the slope, through some lovely birch-and-fern glades, and reached the bomber crash path a ways below the crash site. This wonderful route spared me from some rough downward whacking and enabled me to get back to the car with some daylight to spare, carrying fresh memories of some impressively rugged terrain on the slopes of Waternomee.