Wednesday, October 29, 2014


The Forest Service has just opened a new trail, tentatively named Irene's Path or Irene's Way, between these two fine attractions in the Waterville Valley backcountry. It replaces the Flume Brook Trail, which was partly destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene. There are no signs or blazes yet, but it is easily followed. After Carol scouted this out on Saturday and gave me a report, I knew where I would be hiking on this chilly afternoon. It turned out to be a very interesting 6 1/2 mile round trip.

 This sign marks the start of the Kettles Path off Livermore Trail. 0.9 mi. from the Livermore/Depot Camp trailhead.

Fine sidehill work on a major Kettles Path relocation, done in 2013 by volunteers of the Waterville Valley Athletic & Improvement Association  (

A big white pine along the Kettles Path.

Nice hardwoods on the Scaur Trail just above the Kettles Path junction; below this junction the Scaur Trail has been closed due to steepness and erosion.

Looking south to Sandwich Dome from the ledges of the Scaur. This has long been one of our favorite shorter hikes, just 2 miles one way with 650 feet of elevation gain.

View to Middle/South Tripyramid and the remote Lost Pass region.

Some rime frosting on Middle & South Tripyramid.

This ledge behind the outlook is a nice spot for a snooze in the sun.

The steep ledgy slot on the trail just behind the Scaur.

Irene's Path starts along the base of this rock face.

A ledge just to the right of the trail offers a view of Mt. Tecumseh.

The trail then passes this impressive rock.

Like the prow of an ocean liner.

The trail makes a nice meandering climb eastward along the ridge.

Another interesting rock formation.

After 0.6 mi. the trail starts to descend into the Flume Brook valley through dark, wild woods on the north side of the ridge.

The trail leads down through some very rough terrain. The amazing trail construction here was performed by the Off the Beaten Path crew led by Jed Talbot. See photos of them at work:

Partway down, the trail passes a unique vista of Mad River Notch.

This may be the best view anywhere of the Painted Cliff on East Osceola.

Two sets of cliffs on the SW side of Mt. Kancamagus. The ledges on the back/left were once called the K1 Cliff.

These lower cliffs offer bushwhackers some good views to the south.

A boulder cave near the junction with the Old Skidder Path.

The entrance to the Waterville Flume is blocked by a jumble of Irene debris.

The area is much more open than it used to be.

You can make your way down to the open brookbed below the Flume.

Here you get a view of the towering fractured wall on the north side of the Flume.

An interesting perspective on the two walls of the gorge.

By scrambling up and over some of the debris, you can get a clear look into the Flume with its pretty cascade. The former path that led up into the gorge along the right side has been obliterated.

The lower cascade in the Flume. There's another one up around the corner to the right, but it's much harder to get to now.

Crushed stone laid down along the trail by the Off the Beaten Path crew.

Another look at that Mad River Notch view.

A trailside boulder at sunset. Irene's Path is a great addition to the White Mountain trail system!

Thursday, October 23, 2014



My brother Drew and sister-in-law Kate were up for a visit, and after some morning rain we headed across the Kancamagus Highway for two short hikes and their introduction to geocaching. We stopped at the Sugar Hill Overlook for the day's first cache and admired the view of Green's Cliff.

Kate taking in the vista after snagging her first cache.

Potash Mountain and Mt. Passaconaway.

Then it was on to Sabbaday Falls, where Drew takes a look at the lower pool.

A vintage interpretive sign.


After 2 1/2" of rain the previous day, the falls were roaring.

Looking through the spray.

The logbook from one of two caches we found above the falls.

Sabbaday Brook, above the falls.

Our turnaround point was the trail's first crossing of the brook, 0.7 mile from the trailhead.

Next we headed east to the Boulder Loop Trail, a great three-mile circuit hike with wonderful views at the top. On the lower part we climbed on a golden carpet.

There is lots of interesting rock scenery on this trail.

The woods were glowing!

Taking in the first view over the Swift River valley, with White Ledge in the distance.

This is one of the best hikes in the Whites for late-season foliage.

Looking ahead to the upper cliffs.

A serious dropoff to the talus at the base of this cliff.

The view from the upper cliffs, reached by a 0.15 mile spur trail.

Drew & Kate enjoying a glorious October afternoon.

From behind the cliffs, a view of Middle and South Moat.

Great colors below.

Looking back to the lower cliff we were on earlier.

Profile of the backlit Sandwich Range.

Drew & Kate at a neat boulder formation along the bottom of the return loop. Near here was the sixth geocache we found along the Boulder Loop Trail. What a fun hike!


A few days later I headed up for a fall maintenance trip on Passaconaway Cutoff, the adopted trail of the Four Thousand Footer Committee. The main task today was hoeing out the 45 or so drainages along the 1.7 mile trail. On this lower hardwood section there was still some late beech color.

A cascade on the west branch of Oliverian Brook, a break spot a little more than halfway through the trail.

Looking up the west branch, which an older route of the trail followed more closely from here up to the Square Ledge Trail.

It was a clear and crisp October day, so upon finishing the drainage work at 3:00, I opted to continue 0.3 mile up the Square Ledge Trail to enjoy a view from the slide on the north side of Nanamocomuck Peak.

Along the way the trail passes through the site of a remote logging camp of the Conway Lumber Company in the early 1900s. There are still a few artifacts scattered about, including this sled runner.

Perhaps these were pieces of an old wood stove? Please remember that it is illegal (and unfair to fellow explorers) to remove such artifacts from the National Forest.

The trail runs right along the base of the slide.

A very short scramble up the right side of the slide rewards with a fine view to the north.

Hedgehog Mountain and the East Ledges, with Mt. Washington in the distance between Mt. Tremont and Bartlett Haystack.

The Wildcats and Carter Dome through Bear Notch.

Looking up at a steep shoulder of Mt. Passaconaway. As I was relaxing here, I was joined by Ira Orenstein, Karen Bloom, and their son, avid hikers from New York and longtime customers at my store, who were coming down from Mt. Passaconaway. We hung out for a while, then enjoyed a nice hike out together, the last mile by headlamp.