Monday, October 3, 2016


On a misty fall morning, six of us gathered at the Wild River Road for the 28th annual White Mountain Cropwalk, a "hike for hunger" that benefits the programs of Church World Service. This year's participants included Thom Davis, Roger Doucette, Dennis Lynch, Candace Morrison, Gary Tompkins and this correspondent. Our route followed an 11-mile loop over West Royce Mountain and the Basin Rim and back along the beautiful Wild River.

Since its inception in 1989 our walk has raised more than $73,000 for the anti-hunger programs of Church World Service, with more than $18,000 of that provided to local food pantries in the western White Mountains. Every year some 1,600 CROP Walks are held across the U.S. Ours is the only one in which walkers hike on mountain trails. We owe the success of our walk to the consistent generosity of our sponsors. The CROP Walk theme is “Ending hunger, one step at a time.” For more info visit To make a donation for our walk, make a check out to "Church World Service" and mail to me (Steve Smith) at PO Box 445, Lincoln, NH 03251. Thanks!

Candace admires large hemlocks on the Burnt Mill Brook Trail, our ascent route to the ridge.

In normal water flow, this is an attractive cascade.

Gnarled trees in the col at the base of West Royce.

Different styles of signage.

A boulder cloaked in ferns, moss and rock tripe.

On the Royce Trail, up into the fog.

A Valentine ledge.

Enjoying the view of gray air on a West Royce outlook ledge.

Roger checks out the supports from the former West Royce firetower, which was built by the WMNF in 1940 and abandoned by 1948.

Trail signs at West Royce summit.

This ledge appears to be the true summit of West Royce (3210 ft.).

On a clear day, this ledge on the Basin Rim Trail has a nice view of the Baldfaces.

The northern section of the Basin Rim Trail is a wonderful moss-fringed ridge walk through a dense conifer forest.

It's like this for nearly a half-mile.

Quartz chunks.

Basin Rim Trail has some steep and rugged spots, too. This is a tricky spot to descend, where butt meets root.

Approaching an oak-fringed outlook ledge overlooking The Basin.

Taking in the first view of the day.

Basin Pond through the mist.

Signs at five-way Rim Junction.

Gary enjoys the vista over The Basin from a ledge 0.1 mile south of Rim Junction. As Thom, a glacial geologist, explained, this valley is the lowest-elevation glacial cirque in the Whites.

Another angle.

From the nearby "white ledge," looking across at an arm of West Royce.

The reason for our hike.

Glacial erratic.

Into the Wilderness on the Black Angel Trail.

A bracket fungus - one of the largest we've ever seen.

A beautiful spot on Blue Brook near the Blue Brook Tentsite.

One of three tent pads at the site.

Thom climbs into the fog as the Black Angel Trail runs up over a ridge en route to the Wild River Valley.

Dennis descending into the valley along an old logging road.

Hanging out on the bank of the Wild River.

Looking downstream along the Wild River, with water as low as we've ever seen it.

The upstream view.

Looking across.

The former location of Spider Bridge, washed out for a final time in 2005.

Nice pool.

Wild River scene.

A spot along the Wild River Trail blocked by Tropical Storm Irene; a bypass goes around to the left (heading south).

The remains of the recently dismantled bridge over the Wild River on the Moriah Brook Trail. A rock-hop crossing (dangerous in high water) will now be required to access the Moriah Brook Trail from this end.

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