Saturday, December 13, 2014


In Lincoln we got zero snow from the multi-day nor'easter this week. But I suspected Kinsman Notch, my favorite stomping ground of late, may have gotten more, and that I would be able to enjoy some off-trail snowshoeing there as I had on Monday. Turns out there was more than I bargained for: 
12-16" of dense, mealy snow - the kind that does awkward twists on your snowshoe - with a crust on top. It made for some pretty tough sledding.

I decided to head for the Stark Falls Brook area, reprising a trip I did in January on a very cold day. Today the temps would be more comfortable. I planned to visit a clifftop perch overlooking the north end of Kinsman Notch, and then meander as far up the Stark Falls Brook valley as I felt like going. Because the Beaver Pond parking area is not plowed, I set off from the Beaver Brook Trail lot, which looked quite wintry.

 I strapped on my snowshoes and went 0.1 mile up the Beaver Brook Trail, crossing the first brook on a shaky ice bridge and the second on the sturdy DOC footbridge.

With the recent temperature fluctuations, I deemed the ice on Beaver Pond unsafe to cross, so I snowshoed through the woods parallel to the west shore of the pond. The first part was through beautiful open hardwoods.

I quickly discovered that the snowshoeing was going to be strenuous today, even on the flats.

I dropped down to the shore to get some views of the pond.

Looking back along the shore towards Mt. Jim.

The great ledge that juts out into the pond was caked in snowdrifts.

North of the pond I passed this USFS bearing tree marker in an old clearcut grown up to scrawny saplings.

The snow depth was quite respectable for mid-December.

I had to drop down a steep slope to cross Stark Falls Brook.

Looking down Stark Falls Brook.

COLD water flowing through.

I made a switchback up the steep slope on the north side of the brook.

Tough snow conditions for deer. I crossed this deer's tracks several times, even in a dense conifer grove out near the edge of the cliff I visited.

Then I headed across a plateau area towards the cliff, weaving through a delicate latticework of snow-draped branches.

A random ledge in the forest.

I slogged my way through the deep snow out to the edge of the cliff. The clouds had lowered to 2500 ft. or so, but I still got local views down into the notch.

Looking straight down from the cliff.

To the northeast I could see the two spur ridges off Kinsman Ridge where I had enjoyed recent bushwhacks.

A zoom on the cliffs above Underhill Brook, just before they were swallowed by the low clouds.

A side view of the cliff. Even this vertical face was pasted with snow.

Hobblebush patterns.

A natural corridor in the forest.

A vista to the steep ridge above.

Peering up at a snowy crag.

From the plateau I made my way partway up the Stark Falls Brook valley, making use of an unofficial climber's path I stumbled upon last winter. I wandered over to have a look at this giant yellow birch stub.

Wonder what year this warrior first sprouted?

At one spot I dropped down for a look at Stark Falls Brook, where there was a nice upstream vignette.

Looking downstream.

I snowshoed up the north slope into some nice hardwoods, passing this beech embracing a yellow birch.

I headed down through these hardwoods, which were inviting when the crust wasn't catching a snowshoe tip.

Stark Falls, mostly frozen, at dusk. From here I continued a short distance to Rt. 112 and made the roadwalk back to the trailhead by headlamp.


  1. Hey Steve, I just started reading your blog a couple months ago. It was after I went inyour store and bought the book by Lucy Crawford and we talked about 10 minutes. I do a lot of summer hiking but this year I bought snowshoes. I'm looking forward to using them. I'm thinking either Tunnel Brook Ponds and Mt. Pierce (which I have done 3 times during warmer weather) as my first snoeshoe hikes since they are fairly short and Pierce is protected almost to the top. However, my question is actually not about hiking. Do you ever see the northen lights during the winter? Thank you, Keep the posts coming!

    1. Hi Nick,

      Those are both excellent choices for a snowshoe hike. I have seen the Northern Lights a few times over the years, though never on the trail since I don't do much night hiking! Thanks for reading and enjoy the winter!


  2. Pierce is an awesome winter visit! Bring seeds for the Canadian Grey Jays to eat out of your hands and the camera for some great photos from up on high!