Wednesday, May 18, 2016


On a fine spring day I enjoyed a bushwhack exploration with Mark Klim in search of a flume on the east side of the col between Flat Mountain (north) and Sandwich Dome. It was discovered in 1899 by Nathaniel L. Goodrich and friends while trying to reach Flat Mountain Pond from Waterville. Goodrich, who went on to become a renowned AMC trailman and Waterville historian, mentioned it briefly in two publications. The flume is there, but not easy to get to.

Recent good news from the Wonalancet Out Door Club was posted at the trailhead for the Flat Mountain Pond Trail on Bennett Street.

Onto the Bennett Street Trail.

 It passes through a fine hemlock forest.

A mossy trailside spring.

This cascade on Pond Brook might be what was called Fan Fall in the 1901 Wonalancet Out Door Club guide to the Sandwich Range.

Soon we came to the start of the new relocation, completed just three days earlier by WODC volunteers, around the washout on Bennett Street Trail.

Freshly greening hardwoods along the relo.

Good axe work.

After the relo, the trail passes Great Falls.

A closer look. This and Fan Fall have beautiful pools at their bases.

The trail continues along a wide stretch of Pond Brook.

Then it turns left and climbs alongside a tributary. There's lots of nice brook scenery in this area.

Rock steps on a steep pitch approaching Flat Mountain Pond Trail.

The upper junction of Bennett Street and Flat Mountain Pond Trails.

The Flat Mountain Pond Trail follows the grade of the old Beebe River Logging Railroad (1917-1942).

A scenic crossing of Pond Brook.

An open beaver pond/meadow marks the renowned hairpin turn on the old railroad grade.

Two summits of the northern Flat Mountain rise above the meadow.

The SW summit of the northern Flat has some interesting view ledges, but they are guarded by fierce scrub.

The land of the pointed firs.

A high ridge of Sandwich Dome.

Nice spot for a lunch break before starting the bushwhack.

An amber pool on the stream we followed up towards the flume.

Not far above we came upon a fine ledgy cascade.

Near here we found some old cairns. In the middle of nowhere, leading nowhere.

The whack up this valley was generally scrappy, but we did find one stretch of good open woods.

A spooky cavern along the dwindling brook.

A can left over from the logging railroad era.

Another artifact.

We ascended to a big ledge high in the valley, with the NE ridge of Sandwich Dome looming nearby.

The Ossipees under a puffy cloud sky.

Sandwich is a massive presence.

A peek at the southern Flat Mountain.

Above the ledge the terrain was very rough, necessitating a lot of weaving up, down and around to circumvent obstacles.

After some thrashing around, we caught a glimpse of the opposite wall of the flume.

A slow and careful descent in precipitous terrain brought us to the bottom of the flume.

Looking up at the south wall.

This is what Nathaniel Goodrich wrote about the flume in his 1952 history of the Waterville Valley:
"At the top of the high col between Sandwich Mountain and Flat Mountain there is a deep narrow flume in the solid rock, suggesting a spill-way for melt water dammed by the glacier against the range. But also, they say, it may be the result of earthquake action. These matters are not for the amateurs."

On the north side is a chaotic jumble of rocks.

We wondered when someone last stood on the floor of the flume.

Big fallen rocks blocked passage up through the ravine.

A pool in the small brook at the bottom.

Climbing out of the flume - which was easier than dropping in.

On the way back down the valley we paid another visit to that nice cascade.

After completing the descent down the valley, we took a much-deserved break by the beaver pond/meadow at the hairpin turn.

 Mark admires the scene.

Peaceful view from a tall boulder.

Shallow water and deep muck.

Heading out on the Flat Mountain Pond Trail.

Another leftover from the logging days.

Forest Service notice about the upper Gleason Trail.

Descending the lower Gleason Trail.


  1. Great TR Steve ... I've often thought what a short distance it is from Drakes Brook over to the hairpin, but your TR shows just how tough that trip would be. Those peaks are God's massive rock generating machine as you can see from up hill side of Flat Mountain Pond Trail and Pond Brook. Gove's map of Beebe River RR shows a camp up in there - you guys must have stumbled on to it.

    1. Thank you, Ray! Back around 1996 I whacked to the Sandwich-Flat col from Drakes Brook Trail. It was pretty rough and the col was very thick, so I abandoned the idea of looking for that flume and continued up to the great view ledges on the SW peak of Flat, which was my main objective. They were well-guarded. I returned along the upper part of Fletcher's Cascades. That whole area has some rugged terrain.
      Apparently Camp 9 was located in the area of the hairpin beaver pond. Erin Donovan has a pic of a stove door in a shallow stream. The stuff we found was up around 2500-2600 ft. in some ledgy terrain. Maybe there was a temporary remote camp up there.