Tuesday, December 9, 2014


On a cold day with sun giving way to high clouds, I returned to the north side of Kinsman Notch for a bushwhack to a view ledge on a western spur of Kinsman Ridge that rises between Underhill Brook and Stony Brook. (This is on the opposite side of Underhill Brook from the cliffs I visited in my last blog post.) After a 5-inch snowfall a couple of days earlier, I was hoping the depth would be sufficient to enjoy my first snowshoeing of the season. I was not disappointed.

The view ledge I was aiming for can be seen at the edge of a spruce patch, just right of center in the photo below. (The much more prominent Underhill Cliff can be seen behind to the left.) I had visited this ledge in June, but it started raining when I arrived there, so I wanted to enjoy its fine local views on a better day.

Luckily there was a parking spot plowed at an ideal point to launch this bushwhack. The conditions proved excellent for snowshoeing, with 6-8" of dense powder at the start and a foot or more up above 2000 ft.

It was a joy to make my first 'shoe tracks of the season!

Grades were moderate much of the way, through open hardwoods, with one more difficult steep pitch partway up.

I crossed tracks with a deer along the way. There were no hunters in the woods today, as rifle season had ended the day before.

A very well-used bear tree.

A pair of healthy hemlocks. Under the hemlocks and other conifers, the snow was more powdery and less deep.

It's beginning to look a lot like winter...

These split ledges resemble a man-made bridge abutment.

After pushing through some snow-laden conifers in rough terrain, I emerged on the view ledge. The wind was whipping here, and with a temp about 10 above it was rather chilly. I layered up and sought a more protected little perch to enjoy the view SW to Mt. Jim, Mt. Blue and the long, multi-peaked north ridge of Blue. With the sun veiled by high clouds, the vista was much better than last week's similar view from the Underhill Cliff, when I was looking directly into the low sun.

Looking more to the left, Mt. Waternomee comes into view.

Looking south towards Kinsman Notch.

I even had a fringe of bare rock to sit on for a late lunch.

Across the north side of the notch I could see an impressive cliff on a low spur of Mt. Blue. I bushwhacked to the top of this last summer.

My perch also offered an impressive view into the steep valley of Stark Falls Brook.

In the other direction, I could see up to the frosted crest of Kinsman Ridge.

After a good stay, the cold wind drove me back into the woods. Pushing through the thick conifers behind the ledge warmed me up in a hurry. Soon enough I was back into the hardwoods, admiring one of the many large yellow birches found on the slopes of Kinsman Notch.

At times on the descent I sought out pristine snow away from my upbound tracks.

Farther down, I mostly followed my tracks, which allowed me to be navigation-lazy on the descent, one of the advantages of bushwhacking in winter.

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