Saturday, March 21, 2015


Wanting to take advantage of the deep snow of late winter for some unusual views, I headed up the steep Beaver Brook Trail to visit two 4000-foot peaks of the Moosilauke range: Mount Jim (4172 ft.) and Mount Blue (4529 ft.).

I've been partway up Beaver Brook Trail several times this winter, but I always stop for a photo of the classic Dartmouth Outing Club sign at the start of the climb.

The familiar first cascade on Beaver Brook.

Someone had built a snow cave alongside the trail here.

Since I was last there, a new workaround snow ramp had been stomped out at the steepest, trickiest spot on the trail, at 2300 ft.

Backcountry skiers have been swooping down the frozen and buried cascades for the last several weeks.

A skier's view looking down one of the cascades.

The pitch at 2800 ft. with a long set of wooden pin steps in summer. It's steeper than it looks. All the steep pitches on the trail had been recently sledded. I understand that sledding on 4000-footer trails is all the rage right now, but in my opinion this is not a safe sledding trail, both for the sledder and for other hikers slowly making their way up this relentlessly steep route. There's a potential for serious injury here.

Trailside view towards the Franconias.

Expanded view from the brook itself. It's been wonderful to be able to wander out at will on the frozen brook this winter.

Looking upstream on a gentler section of the brook.

The DOC blaze nearly buried, the AT blaze knee-high.

Descriptions of the Beaver Brook Trail from a century ago mention an alternate loop crossing the brook and passing "June's View Rock." I wonder if it might be this snowy slab.

At 3300 ft. the trail offered a fine view out to the Kinsmans.

The spur to Beaver Brook Shelter, at 3750 ft.

Nobody has been raking the shelter roof this winter.

Front view.

The fine view from the shelter, enhanced by a big snowdrift in front.

Mt. Washington and Mt. Bond between Liberty and Flume.

Interesting DOC signage inside the shelter.

Logbook entries from thru-hikers staying here last August.

A sign warning descending hikers, just below the junction with the Ridge Trail.

The Ridge Trail sign had almost disappeared.

The Ridge Trail hadn't been traveled in awhile. There were quite a few bend-overs and about 10 inches of powder atop an old track.

I wandered around a large fir wave to the south of the Ridge Trail, looking for late-winter-only views, such as this look at snowy Mount Moosilauke.

It was neat to see the ice-draped headwall of Jobildunk Ravine below the summit. The ravine received its curious name for three early explorers in the region, Joe, Bill and Duncan. Moosilauke historian Bob Averill suspects that the Bill was for William Little, who wrote the history of Warren, was the first proprietor of the Summit House, and built a path up over the Waternomee-Jim ridge from North Woodstock.

A closer look at the ice precipices. The first known visit to these was made by photographer Amos F. Clough during the winter occupation of the Moosilauke Summit House in 1870. Clough made a wild, sliding descent into the ravine and took a number photos of the ice pillars that were later published as stereoscopic views.

The inside of a fir wave.

Most of the snow in the fir wave was firm and supportive, but one of the hazards of this type of area is the dreaded "spruce trap," where your snowshoe plunges into a deep air pocket surrounding a small spruce or fir. This was the first of two that I fell into while meandering around looking for views. That's the handle of a trekking pole down in the hole.

Spruce trap #2 was worse - I went in chest-deep, which, when alone, is an uh-oh moment. And there was empty air below my snowshoe.

Since my camera was in hand, I took a photo of the "View from the Trap," as my friend John Compton dubbed it, before extricating myself. That process took a few strenuous minutes.

The view I was casing here showed both Mount Moosilauke and Mount Blue.

Back on the Ridge Trail, I snowshoed over wind drifts up near the summit of Mount Jim.

The high point of Jim, which is on the Trailwrights list of 72 4000-footers.

I went out to another fir wave, north of the trail just to the west of Jim's summit, and found wide open views to the north.

A great look at the Kinsmans and Mount Wolf. Part of Gordon Pond can be seen at the right edge of the photo.

This spot also afforded a fine view of the Franconia Range.

The upper Franconia Ridge, from base to summit.

The Twin-Bond Range and the Presidentials (disappearing into clouds) behind Liberty and Flume.

Fir waves, which are bands of dead and dying trees that slowly move across a slope, are one of the most interesting natural features in the Whites.

Looking over at a northern spur of Mount Blue.

The dome of Mount Blue, seen from a fir wave along the Ridge Trail.

Returning along the snow-laden Ridge Trail.

Yet another fir wave, this one along the Beaver Brook Trail.

The neat section of the trail that runs across the slope above the headwall of Jobildunk Ravine.

Peering down into the ravine from a viewpoint along the trail.

Last winter, I visited these beaver ponds with John "1HappyHiker" Compton and Chris "NeoAkela" Whiton. From the ponds we enjoyed stunning views up to the headwall.

A big drift beside the trail opened this neat view of the headwall.

These flows are occasionally scaled by adventurous ice climbers, but it's a long approach!

A view from the Beaver Brook Trail as it climbs the flank of Mount Blue, enhanced by deep snow.

This is an open snow climb here in late winter.

Another angle on the headwall and Moosilauke summit.

I bushwhacked to the summit of Mount Blue through a maze of heavily snow-laden firs. The amount of snow up here was amazing!

A view of Moosilauke from a deep drift near the summit of Blue.

Due to the huge snowpack, I was unable to find the two register jars at the top of this Trailwrights 4000-footer. But my GPS assured me that I made it to the highest point.

Following my tracks back to the trail.

The sun shone through snow flurries as I headed back down the trail.

Evening along the trail above the Jobildunk headwall. I made it out at dusk after another memorable day on the high snowy ridges.

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