NORTHWEST SLIDES, MOUNT OSCEOLA: 3/23/17
Mark Klim and I enjoyed a midwinter-type day with great snowshoeing conditions for a bushwhack to the western slides on the north face of Mt. Osceola. It was worth eating a lot of spruce and fir needles to see this stunning snowscape under brilliant blue skies.
We started from the Greeley Ponds XC Trail parking and enjoyed hardwood whacking up onto a low ridge.
While the snow was rock-solid in my yard in Lincoln, out here it was softer and less compacted - but with a firm base beneath - making for fine snowshoeing.
A "bear nest" in an old beech.
On the far side of the ridge we descended and headed westward across the several drainages of Pine Brook. This wide area can be quite confusing to navigate and it doesn't help that the USGS Mt. Osceola quad misplaces the confluence of Pine Brook with one of its eastern tributaries.
Crossing the main branch of Pine Brook, which drains the huge "Dogleg Slide."
We were surprised to see some snowshoe tracks from a few days ago on the far side of the brook. Perhaps someone had ventured out to visit the Dogleg.
Eventually we reached the western tributary that would lead us to the slides.
Small brooks that are "crevassed" like this can be difficult to cross.
After following the brook through mainly scrappy snow-laden woods,we paused at a point where two tributaries - each coming from slides - unite to form the western branch of Pine Brook. From here we climbed a steep slope to get above a ravine-like stretch of our chosen fork.
After some more conifer wrestling, we popped out onto the brookbed/slide track at a point where it became mostly buried in deep snow. On the advice of master bushwhacker J.R. Stockwell, I had used this brookbed on a visit to the slides on a snowy day four years ago.
We 'shoed for half a mile up this snowy highway, which was most welcome after a couple hours of pushing through clinging conifers.
This section looked like a Christmas tree farm.
It was great fun weaving our way along the brookbed, skirting potential holes and soft spots.
First glimpse of a slide beyond a chockstone boulder.
Starting the final approach.
Mark makes his way up an interstate-wide swath of snow.
A cold NW wind was blasting the slide, stirring up occasional ground blizzards.
Looking back at Mt. Hancock.
The vast snowfield where the two NW slides meet, with a tiny figure snowshoeing up the left slide. Both slides fell during Hurricane Carol in 1954, and another branch of the left slide came down in the 1990s, perhaps in the same fall 1995 storm that unleashed the Dogleg Slide.
Looking up the right-hand slide. Along the open brookbed we had followed ski tracks from sometime in the last week, and these adventurers had made some turns on this part of the slide.
Heading up the left slide. The snow conditions on the slide were ideal - a soft but not deep top layer atop a firm grippy base.
Lunch rock partway up the slide, except it was too windy to stay for long.
Looking up to the split in the left slide.
Interrupted by a ground blizzard.
Mark admires the view to the Bonds and South Twin beyond Mt. Hitchcock.
The slides on West Bond stood out nicely.
Descending the slide, which was steeper than it looks in the photo.
Looking back up.
Mark checks out the view from the lower part of the right-hand slide.
A great angle on the Hancock Range, with Mt. Carrigain on the right.
Looking to the left slide, from the right slide.
Contemplating a short, steep descent.
A layer of soft powder makes it easy.
Looking back at the trough of the slide.
A bird's nest at the edge of the slide.
Framed look at the Hancocks and Carrigain.
Sidehilling along a small crevasse.
Snowshoeing conditions were sublime along the brookbed.
Looking down our sunlit road.
Mark wanted to make sure we could find our way back.
A rare spot of open woods in the drainage.
For our exit, we bushwhacked across to the East Pond Trail, passing through these nice open spruce woods shortly before reaching the trail.
On the East Pond Trail.
We were pleased to find a good snow bridge on Pine Brook.
We were amazed that the brook had locked in again after the big February thaw.
View from the Kanc Highway snowbank, which I snowshoed along en route to our vehicle back up at the Greeley Ponds XC pullout.
The slides seen from Hancock Overlook after our hike.