Wednesday, May 11, 2016


On a gorgeous sunny spring day I enjoyed a great bushwhack on the wild back side of Mount Tecumseh. From the Mill Brook valley I went partway up the Bald Mountain ridge to a wildflower-rich col, then I whacked up the hardwood-cloaked Haselton Brook valley and ascended to impressive granite slabs on a spur called Spring Mountain. Hardwoods, flowers and ledges are hard to beat for a fine spring day.

For perspective on this trip, in the photo below the Spring Mountain ledges are on the middle of the three ridges seen across the Haselton Brook valley from Bald Mountain (taken on a previous bushwhack).

After an initial approach on forest roads, I bushwhacked NE through open hardwoods along the lower part of the Bald Mountain ridge.

A storm-scarred maple, still hanging on.

Along the ridge I would find an occasional patch of Dutchman's Breeches at the base of a tree.

A view out towards Carr Mountain from a ledge atop the first bump on the Bald Mountain ridge.

The SW spur of Green Mountain (L) and Hogback Mountain (R).

On several trips I've admired the open maple forest in this col. A week ago fellow Haselton Brook enthusiast Ray "Jazzbo" Caron passed through here and reported many Dutchman's Breeches leaves, though no flowers yet. I added this to the day's itinerary in hopes that these uncommon (in the Whites) flowers would be in bloom.

As Ray reported, there were extensive patches of Dutchman's Breeches all across the col.

This is one of the most extensive occurrences of this plant - which is typical of enriched hardwood forest - that I've seen in the Whites.

And some of them were in bloom!

From the col the enriched forest wrapped around a bit on the eastern base of the ridge.

I dropped downslope to head up the valley, soon passing this beech with an interesting foot print.

"Hardwood Heaven" - a Catskill-like patch of forest.

An isolated Dutchman's at the base of a white ash.

This is an excellent valley for hardwood whacking.

A shelf fungus tree.

Several miles up the valley, Spring Mountain could be glimpsed through the trees. This spur was named by late 19th century guidebook editor Moses Sweetser after mineral springs and an accompanying building that were located at its base in the mid-1800s. A route over this spur was one of three Sweetser described to Mount Tecumseh from the Mill Brook valley.

I dropped down to cross Haselton Brook, at the foot of Spring Mountain. Perhaps this rocky outwash was deposited by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

Nice sunny spot for a brookside break.

View back across the brook.

For the ascent to the ledges I first followed a tributary brook along the north side of the spur, passing this unusual rock.

It's an attractive little stream. Higher up it is steep and there must be some tall cascades. I could hear them up on the ledges.

The ascent started in this glade with a tangle of hobblebush.

One of the treasures from the sky sometimes found on a remote bushwhack.

Above the hobblebush, the spruce-woods climb up Spring Mountain was steep but mostly fairly open.

It does go up!

About 500 ft. up I came to the base of the first ledge band.

This spur has a number of huge granite slabs, much like its ridgemates Welch and Dickey.

The slabs are steep yet grippy, at least when dry.

Looking across to the next ridge to the south, a wild-looking crest which rises to the summit of the SW spur of Green Mountain.

The sweep of the Bald Mountain ridge, lower half, is seen across the Haselton Brook valley. Carr Mountain, Mount Kineo and Mount Cushman are sprawled in the distance.

The upper half of the Bald Mountain ridge rises to West Tecumseh.

Another wild ridge rises close by to the north.

Quite the granite expanse.

Above the first set of slabs I peered into this tunnel-cave amidst a jumble of broken ledges. I wondered if this could be the "Walker's Ice Cave" described in the 1890s guidebook to Franconia Notch and the Pemigewasset Valley by Frank O. Carpenter.

A ledge on the north edge of the ridge provided a bypass around some difficult terrain in the broken ledges, where I hit a dead-end and had to temporarily retreat. I first visited this ridge in 1995, on snowshoes with two friends. Somehow we found a way to scramble up through the broken stuff that day, but today a work-around seemed prudent.

Looking down into a flume-like formation.

Ascending the second band of ledges.

The southwestern view expands.

After a tussle with some scrub I emerged on the third ledge band, where the ridge flattens out just below 3000 ft. Today the view extended all the way to Stratton Mountain in southern Vermont.

Mount Moosilauke over Bald Mountain.

Looking up to the col between Mount Tecumseh and Green Mountain.

West Tecumseh beyond the deep, dark ravine on the north side of Spring Mountain.

Not a bad place to hang out in the afternoon sun.

Heading back down the lower slab. 

It is amply steep!

Back down through the spruces.

There are trout lilies galore in this valley.

I scooted back across Haselton Brook.

On the far side, along the ghost of an old woods road, I stumbled on this little pool hemmed in by what appears to be an old manmade rock enclosure, now covered in moss. I wondered if this might be a remnant from the old mineral spring house.

Another view.

Heading home down the long valley through the hardwoods.

Near the mouth of the valley I visited the old Elkins Farm cellar hole from the 1800s, thanks to intel from Ray Caron and a local resident who I met on my way in this morning. The Elkins Farm was recommended in the late 1800s Sweetser guidebook as the best launching point for the three different routes up Mount Tecumseh. George Elkins, "a quiet, tireless and trusty young man," sometimes guided parties up the mountain. If these walls could speak, there would be some interesting tales from that bygone tramping era.

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