Thursday, April 30, 2015


After gazing into the remote, trailless area north of Rumney's Rattlesnake Mountain last week, I decided to repeat a long bushwhack loop I'd done in 2005, visiting the little peak called Bald Ledge, hitting some ledges on the ridge above, and looping back via a view ledge on the south side of Upper Rattlesnake Mountain. I figured this south-facing, predominantly hardwood-forested area would provide snow-free bushwhacking, and I was not disappointed.

Here's a view of the area taken from Rattlesnake the week before.

I started off briefly on the Rattlesnake Mountain Trail, then crossed a brook and followed an old logging road uphill for a while.

Bushwhacking up and across the slope, I stumbled on an obviously well-used mountain bike trail. Though it's in the WMNF, I've never heard of it. I followed it for 0.1 mile until it turned away from the direction I was going.

While following another old logging road, I passed this stone wall.

I soon crossed a brook....

...and not far up on the other side found some old foundations.

A building is shown at this location (at about 1200 ft.) on the 1928 USGS Rumney quad map. This land is in the WMNF now.

A nearby cellar hole.

An old road in piney forest that perhaps was once pastureland.

I soon came to another brook and followed it quite a ways upstream, looking for cascades.

I spotted this twin drop up ahead.

The view from above.

I continued up past more cascades.

A lovely little stream.

One of several little slidey cascades.

Indian poke was sprouting along the bank.

A peaceful spring scene where the brook levels out in a hardwood area.

While climbing up towards Bald Ledge I passed what looked like a dry flume.

A beautiful, Catskill-like hardwood draw just below Bald Ledge.

The broad crest of Bald Ledge is mainly cloaked in a fine oak forest.

Approaching the high point.

An old cairn at the 1740-ft. summit of Bald Ledge. I was treading carefully here to avoid trampling lichens.

A series of ledgy, grassy meadows adorns the summit area. The southern meadow opens a good view in that direction.

Mount Cardigan behind Firescrew.

Distant Croydon Peak to the southwest.

Another meadow on the northwest side offers a view of Mount Cube.

Through the trees to the north I could see the dark, looming mass of Carr Mountain, the parent peak to the spurs I was exploring.

The meadows are rimmed with white pines, whose boughs were sighing in the spring breeze.

The most spacious meadow is near the top and looks out towards Smarts Mountain. 
I spent a long time lounging here.

Zooming in on the sweeping profile of Smarts.

Snow still lurks in the hardwoods on the middle slopes.

Not a bad spot to relax in some unexpected sun.

A massive oak passed east of the col beyond Bald Ledge.

Great spring hardwood whacking!

I headed northeast up an oak-wooded ridge.

Partway up was this jumble of talus with some wildly jutting rocks.

This rock feature would probably be named were it along a trail.

Cool overhangs.

Just above the talus was a ledge with a view south.

From a clifftop I peered down into a high hardwood basin.

Twin oaks.

The next ledge up the ridge was a big one.

Tall trees limited the view, but it was a very nice spot to linger for a while.

The Killington Range on the horizon.

A short distance above, I reached the uppermost ledge on this little ridgecrest.

From here I headed back down a small valley along the headwaters of the nameless brook I had followed up earlier.

Then I contoured along the west slope of Upper Rattlesnake Mountain through mixed woods.

Next was a climb up the slope through scruffy woods choked with beech saplings.

I emerged on the ridgecrest at this viewless ledge.

A short distance down the ridge was my last destination, the Upper Rattlesnake view ledge.

Wind turbines are lined up on Tenney and Fletcher Mountains.

From this angle, Rattlesnake Mountain (center) shows very little bare rock.

I hung out here for a while before starting the descent back to the valley.

Some artifacts seen on the way down, near the site of the old foundations. It was a most interesting day with a good variety of sights along the way.

GPS track of the day's route, which totaled about 7 miles.