Saturday, February 11, 2017


After a gloomy, bitter morning of wind fog and snow mist, the afternoon weather was still cold and windy - but also bright and sunny - for a 4 1/2 mile snowshoe bushwhack loop to a beaver pond and several sets of ledges on the south side of Bald Knob (Acteon Ridge).

I started off at 11:30 am from the Smarts Brook trailhead on Rt. 49 and snowshoed up the Pine Flats Trail alongside Smarts Brook, most of which was midwinter-buried. The temperature was 7 degrees at the start.

The scenic highlight on the Pine Flats Trail is the ice-draped Smarts Brook Gorge.

Another angle.

One spot on the brook was not frozen over.

I left the trail where it climbs away from the brook and followed the stream's meanderings across a low-lying flat area.

Then I followed a small tributary towards a beaver pond I had never visited before. Approaching the sprawling, swampy pond, I passed by some very large white pines.

These twin pines rise close to the west edge of the pond.

From the beaver dam on the west shore there was a fine view of Bald Knob (L) and its south spur peak (R) across the beaver pond. Later in the day I visited the south spur.

In a tall snag were what appeared to be a pair of Great Blue Heron nests.

The wind whipped up a mini-blizzard.

From the NW corner there was a peek at the two Black Mountains of Sandwich Dome.

Making tracks along the beaver dam. From here I skirted carefully along the north shore, choosing not to snowshoe across the middle - beaver pond ice is sometimes unreliable.

From the beaver pond I bushwhacked east, crossed the Yellow Jacket Trail, and headed up a slope through wonderfully open woods. Snowshoeing conditions were superb, with 6" of silky powder atop a solid base.

Breaking trail through the hardwoods.

Crossing a ledge on a low shoulder of Bald Knob.

The lower Black Mountain looms to the SE.

Nearly due east is the higher Black Mountain.

Next I swung north to ascend to one of my favorite ledgy ridges.

Open woods were the rule on this bushwhack.

I swung onto the crest of this southern spur ridge of Bald Knob at the lowest ledge slab in a series, all of them lined with gnarled oaks.

There's a fine view of the Campton Range at the top of this ledge. This spot was relatively comfortable, in the sun and out of the wind.

The snow highlighted the limbs of this marvelously contorted oak.

Great snowshoeing up the sunny ledges. I'd been here several times before, but never on snowshoes.

On a day like this the winter sky is bluer than blue.

Approaching the upper end of the long ledge ramp.

Another twisted tree.

A good view across to the two Black Mountains, with the summit of Sandwich Dome off to the left..

Looking back.

From the top of the ledge ramp I bushwhacked west through open conifers to the sharp little south spur peak of Bald Knob.

This peak is crowned with another huge ledge.

Around the corner a small outlook peers across at the cliff-faced flank of Bald Knob....

...and the snowy ledges of Welch and Dickey beyond the steep nose of Bald Knob.

From the south spur I snowshoed steeply down a familiar route through open conifers.

Farther down I switched over to boulder-strewn hardwoods on the west flank of Bald Knob.

The last big boulder on the descent. The Bald Knob area always offers plenty of interesting sights and places.

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