Saturday, March 19, 2016


After waiting out some dreary morning weather, I spent a crisp, sunny afternoon on a bushwhack loop taking in several points of interest on the west and south sides of Bald Knob (Acteon Ridge). The woods were 100% snow and ice free!

At the start I walked partway up the Old Waterville Road to grab two geocaches. One is at a small cemetery near the homestead of Moses Foss, one of the early (1820) settlers in the Mad River valley. Perhaps this gravestone was for his son.

Pleasant walking on the Old Waterville Road.

Old stone walls line part of this original road route up the valley.

A nameless stream slides through a sluice on the SW side of Bald Knob.

The west slope of Bald Knob is home to an amazing assortment of boulders, a number of which have named climbing routes. I enjoyed a leisurely (and careful) climb up through this rocky maze.

This jumble of rocks is perhaps in the area called Skyfall by climbers because it looks like boulders rained from the sky.

Clad in ferns and lichens.

As you climb the steep slope the boulders just keep coming.

I worked a winding way up around to the top of this behemoth for a break spot.

Looking out from the top o' the rock.

Nope, not going that way.

This old birch grew to a respectable size in this rocky terrain.

Bald Knob is a steep-sided little peak. Bushwhackers who choose a direct route up or down often get "cliffed out."

A huge rock roof high on the west face of Bald Knob. Inside this formation is "Gandalf Cave," with a climb through a crack called "Gollum's Escape." This is documented on the Mountain Project website as part of the "Upper Cliff.".

Another angle on the roof.

A side view of the Upper Cliff.

I tried three different approaches to get on top of the Upper Cliff for the view, but each had one dicey or slippery move that I wasn't comfortable making solo in such rough terrain.

I did find one spot along the base with a view out to the Campton Range and beyond.

Looking across the base of the cliff.

One of several caves in the area.

This one is a little spooky.

Another cave.

From the Upper Cliff I whacked across to the big open ledge on the south spur of Bald Knob. A nice spot to relax in the sun.

Welch & Dickey Mountains seen across the steep face of Bald Knob.

Cone Mountain with Carr Mountain in the distance.

View of Sandwich Notch.

This is an expansive ledge.

A comfortable hangout spot.

Next I whacked eastward to a long ramp of ledge on another spur.

A graceful oak against the sky.

More oaks line the edge of the ledge, with the two Black Mountains beyond.

Nice late afternoon light.

Wonderfully weather-gnarled.

Looking across to the Black Mountain ridge with the Sandwich Dome summit on the left.

Ledge and sky.

Leafless oaks are closing in on this ledge.

A lower section of the long ramp of ledge.

 Looking back up the lower ledge.

The ramp plunges into the forest.

Open hardwoods below the ledges.

A random ledge step in the woods.

Bare ground hardwood whackin'. Bring on spring!

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