Wednesday, July 25, 2018


The plan on this humid, occasionally showery and generally gloomy day was to wander up into the Smarts Brook valley to a couple of points of interest. But the weather held, so I ended up climbing to the Sandwich Mountain ridge, spending some time on Jennings Peak, and descending via the Drakes Brook Trail. Thanks once again to Carol for watching the store and providing shuttle service to a soggy hiker at the end of the trek.

Cribbing from a small dam (1920s?) can be seen in Smarts Brook by the trailhead.

Nice ledgy spot on Smarts Brook along the Yellow Jacket Trail.

Cascade on Smarts Brook along an unofficial mountain bike trail.

Wet, dark sign on a wet, dark day.

Crossing of the first tributary brook.

A peek up at the cliffs of Sachem Peak from a high spot on the Smarts Brook Trail.

This tributary flows down from an old slide patch high on Black Mountain that I hope to visit some day.

Smarts Brook Trail is a redliner's delight, the longest and quietest route up Sandwich Dome. The only person I saw in 10 miles was a guy running with his dog two minutes from the start of the hike.

High in the valley I dropped down to cross Smarts Brook and bushwhack up the far side, looking for a remote logging camp probably used around 1920 by the International Paper Co.

The camp clearing, typically carpeted with ferns.

Trace of the old logging road leading back down the valley.

Artifacts included this wash basin. Please note that these artifacts are protected and it is illegal to remove them from the WMNF. Plus, it deprives other history buffs from the chance to view these items. Leave them as you found them.

Looks like the remains of a lantern.

Sled runner and various parts.

A pipe joint of some sort.

A pitcher-shaped artifact.

Another lantern.

I can cross this camp site off my bucket list.

Back on Smarts Brook Trail - it's wild out here! The original trail up Sandwich Dome was built up this valley in the 1850s by Waterville Valley innkeeper Nathaniel Greeley. It followed a much steeper route to the Sandwich Dome summit. The current route was opened by the WMNF in the 1930s.

A gentle stretch of Smarts Brook high in the valley.

Big thanks to the maintainer(s) who recently cleared numerous blowdowns in the upper valley.

Quadruple cascade.

There are numerous boulders on the upper floor of the valley.

I did a little rambling to check out some huge boulders off-trail. This behemoth pokes up among the treetops.

Other giants lurk nearby in the forest.

A tributary stream squeezes between two more rocks.

Smarts Brook, where the trail crosses it four miles up the valley.

Boulder cave beside the trail.

Wild spruce woods surround the trail.

I thought of bushwhacking up the slope to visit a potential fern glade, but one look at this dissuaded me.

I did go to a smaller fern glade just off the trail. These are neat places high in the mountains.

Excellent footing on the Smarts Brook Trail as it climbs to the ridge.

The always delightful easy, ferny ridge walk on Sandwich Mountain Trail.

On to Jennings Peak, a superb viewpoint.

Glowering clouds were descending onto the high peaks of the Sandwich Range.

A misty view over the broad Smarts Brook valley. It was nice to sit and contemplate the long (6 miles) route I had taken to here. There was a refreshing south breeze on the ledges.

The wild crest of Sachem Peak.

The two Black Mountains living up to their name.

A hole in the sky.

The village of Waterville Valley, with the Hancocks dimly seen on the horizon.

Peering down into the Drakes Brook valley, my route for the descent.

A tropical downpour put a damper on an unsuccessful search for another logging camp, high in the Drakes Brook valley.

During that search, a shaft of sunlight pierced the gloom on Drakes Brook.

A quick visit to the lower logging camp site in the valley.

Artifacts rusting in a small drainage.

Nice ledgy area on Drakes Brook, near the bottom.

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