Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Out in the quiet woods of the far western White Mountains, I enjoyed a brisk 4 1/2 mile walk on a cold but sunny and beautiful morning. The old South Landaff Road spins off the Cobble Hill Trail 0.7 mile in from Rt. 112 and leads past stone walls, cellar holes, orchards and other remnants of a remote late 1800s hill farming community. Walking conditions were good with the usual mud pits on the old road (largely from illegal ATV use) frozen.

The Cobble Hill Trail is an old logging road that starts on Rt. 112 west of the Rt. 116 junctions. A short way up the trail there's a fine cascade on Dearth Brook; to get a clear look you must make a mini-bushwhack.

About 0.3 mile up the old South Landaff Road is this apple orchard on the right, maintained by the Forest Service as a wildlife food source.

From the west edge there's a glimpse of nearby Cobble Hill.

Much of the South Landaff Road is lined with old stone walls.

Great walking on a cold sunny morning.

I wondered what this rock obelisk was used for in the old days.

From an orchard about 1 1/2 miles up the South Landaff Road there's a vista of Black Mountain in the Benton Range.

And a glimpse of Mt. Moosilauke. If you look closely you can see the huge slide unleashed by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. The views must have been superb when this area was mostly open fields.

Heading back along the road.

A sturdy old oak.

This large tree grew through a hoop or carriage wheel rim.

One of several old foundations/cellar holes hidden in the woods near the road.

A rusted remnant of an old vehicle.

Another foundation.

Relics from the old farming days of more than a century ago. This is a fascinating area to explore, but please leave things as you found them, for others to enjoy.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


While on a family Christmas visit to Cape Cod, Carol and I hiked an established path through the dunes of Provincetown to a geocache called "Dune." The walk through this spectacular sandy landscape and out to the Atlantic beach was recommended by a store customer. It was one of the best treks we've ever done on the Cape.

This interpretive sign marked the beginning of the path a short distance in from Route 6.

After an initial short but steep climb over a dune, Carol takes a reading on her GPS. The cache is that-a-way.

It was a gorgeous day to wander through the dunes.

An oasis?

There were some significant ups and downs, by Cape Cod standards - about 300 ft. of elevation gain for the 2+ mile round trip.

A vast barren landscape.

Into the breach, with the ocean in sight ahead.

Some pitch pine woods ahead, behind the final dune barrier.

There were pools of water in some of the low spots. A P'town native who came by picked some cranberries in one of the boggy areas.

Vegetation has stabilized the sand in this sheltered low area. Visitors are strongly urged to stay on the established paths and not stray onto the vegetation or fragile dune slopes.

Meandering through the stunted pitch pines.

A peek at the top of the Provincetown Monument.

A little cold water left by recent heavy rains won't deter this geocacher.

A bent-over oak marks the approach to the Dune cache.

Dune buggy tracks on a sand road.

Approaching the outermost dune barrier.

The path was pockmarked with mini-postholes in the sand.

The monument now mostly in view.

This way!

A narrow cut provides access to the beach.

To the shore of the mighty Atlantic. There was lots of bird activity on the water - eiders, a variety of gulls, and a tiny diving Dovekie, a pelagic bird perhaps blown in close to shore by the recent storm. We also saw a couple of seals.

The Great Beach, stretching for miles to the east and south.

More dune buggy tracks.

After a nice long break on the beach, where we found a nice quahog shell, we headed back through late afternoon sun.

A sculpted bowl of sand.

King of the hill.

After our hike we drove into P'town, which was hopping on this beautiful, warm-for-December day. We found another geocache here at the wharf by Provincetown Harbor.

Before heading back to our family gathering in Eastham, we walked up to the base of the Provincetown Monument and grabbed another geocache. Three more caches on the drive back concluded a rewarding afternoon on the Outer Cape!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Continuing a series of snowshoe bushwhacks in the Kinsman Notch area, where the snow cover has been excellent this month, I set my sights on a ledge on a southern spur of Kinsman Ridge, between Lost River and the Monkey Cliffs. I had a good view of this ledge from the pulloff where I launched a trek to the Zem Zem Glades the previous week. For today's hike I parked at the plowed pulloff for the "Luck of the Irish" ice climbing area and walked about 0.4 mile up the road, passing this good view of the Monkey Cliffs along the way.

From an unplowed pulloff where I would head into the woods, I could see my objective - the snowy patch in the upper right of the photo below. The direct approach from below would be too steep, so I mapped out a longer traversing ascent across the slope.

I descended to cross the partly frozen Lost River.

I used this ledgy spot that I found last summer, which required one long step - rather awkward with snowshoes - to get across the gap.

Before heading up the slope, I checked out these suspended century-old relics from the Gordon Pond logging railroad, which were discovered by photographer and history buff Erin Paul Donovan last summer.

On the bushwhack I came across several old sled roads from that early 1900s logging operation.

This big beech has been a popular bruin hangout.

The bushwhack was through hardwoods all the way, though were plenty of "sons of beeches" to push through.

Every good hardwood whack needs an ent tree.

A nice open stretch.

I leveled out on this neat plateau at about 2080 ft.before the final push up to the 2200-ft. ledge.

Winding up one of the steeper pitches. As the morning went on and the temperature rose, the snow became increasingly soft and wet.

Two hours up from the road I reached the ledge, and with some maneuvering worked my way out to a flat perch looking across at Mt. Waternomee and its eastern spur (called "Nameless Mountain" in the 1880s by early AMC explorer Isabella Stone).

On the steep flank of "Nameless Mountain" are parallel plunging brookbeds. Last summer Erin Donovan and I came out at the edge of the open ledgy patch on the brook to the right, after following a contouring old sled road.

The most striking view from the ledge was its perspective on the steep southwestern wall of Kinsman Notch: Mt. Waternomee, Mt. Jim, Mt. Blue and a northern sub-peak of Blue.

The Beaver Brook Cascades drop precipitously under Mt. Blue.

On the left, the faint outline of the Waternomee Waterslide. On the right, the Zem Zem Glades, where I was snowshoeing a few days earlier.

A zoom on the Lost River complex.

The cloud lifts briefly off Mt. Blue, at 4529 ft. the second highest of the Moosilauke peaks and a member of the Trailwrights list. In 1884 AMCers E.B. Cook and W.M. Sargent made the short bushwhack to Mt. Blue from the old Little's Path, and “by sitting ten feet aloft in a tree-top, an unobstructed circular view was gained.”

Looking down at the flat perch with the best view towards the notch.

I made an up, around and down loop to access the views from the other (west) edge of the ledge, passing another good bear tree en route.

The west edge offered a fine vista down the Lost River valley.

The sprawling ridges of Mt. Tecumseh and Sandwich Dome.

Looking directly down at Rt. 112.

My car looked far away! About a mile and a half, including the road walk.

Following my tracks back down through the soft snow.

Back across the Lost River, followed by the short climb up to Rt. 112, concluding another fun snowshoe bushwhack in Kinsman Notch.