Saturday, January 23, 2016


On a cold, crisp day I enjoyed a sunny snowshoe bushwhack with Cath Goodwin from the Sabbaday Brook Trail to a favorite ledge on the northern spur of the Fool Killer. The top of this large, open slab offers a unique perspective on the Sandwich Range Wilderness.

In the photo below taken earlier in January from Mount Passaconaway, the Fool Killer Ledge is the snowy patch in the foreground, lower right.

We walked 0.7 mile up the Sabbaday Brook Trail to the first crossing of Sabbaday Brook. On previous trips to this ledge I had shortened the bushwhack by following the trail for about 1.5 miles. Today the brook did not look safely crossable here, and that was likely to be the case for three more crossings. So we left the trail here and bushwhacked along the west side of the stream. After some annoying sidehilling at the start, we found pretty good going.

We set a leisurely pace, pausing often to admire interesting sights in the forest, such as these snow-capped shelf fungi.

We passed the Wilderness boundary beside a tributary brook.

Open hardwoods!

Cath spotted this unusual intertwining of a maple and a beech.

Good snowshoeing was enjoyed in the sunny woods.

Another interesting tree, getting a grip on granite.

Consistent with previous trips in this area, the woods were predominantly open.

Cath admiring a towering hemlock.

This is a big tree!

Park-like bushwhacking.

We passed through an extensive open stand of hemlock and spruce.

Getting steeper.

The final approach took us on a steep ascent through open spruces followed by a fairly strenuous sidehill traverse on a slippery crust.

The sun-washed ledge opened an unusual view up the Sabbaday Brook valley to East Sleeper, with Mounts Passaconaway and Whiteface beyond - the heart of the Sandwich Range Wilderness.

Looking east to Potash Mountain, Mount Chocorua and Mount Paugus.

Zoom on Potash and Chocorua.

Cookie time!

The great wooded dome of Mount Passaconaway.

The big snowy ledge slab below.

The sun was amazingly warm here, with no wind. We were able to lounge comfortably for more than an hour.

Parting shot of Passaconaway & Whiteface.

It's hard to beat these woods!

Late afternoon light on "South Potash."

The ice is slowly building up on Sabbaday Brook, but it will take another week or two of cold weather to build solid snow and ice bridges.


  1. Nice shots of the area. I hope to run into you somewhere, sometime. I was on Hedgehog on this day.

    1. Thanks - we could just see the tip of Hedgehog from our ledge. That is a great little peak!


  2. Hi Steve,
    Has anyone ever tried to climb Passaconaway via the snow slide that your photo shows? That would be epic!

    1. Hi Paul,

      My friend J.R. Stockwell, who is the most epic bushwhacker in the Whites (he's bushwhacked every 4000-footer in every season!), once descended along that slide in winter. Just out of sight below the ridgeline in that photo is a huge rock slab that I've been to in summer (but went no higher). J.R. said it was a great ice cliff in winter. Some of the terrain he has gone through defies belief. Next summer I'll show you the maps he drew up of all his routes.