Friday, August 31, 2018


Mark Klim and I spent an interesting day exploring the expansive basin on the SW side of Mt. Osceola, drained by a major branch of Eastman Brook. As it is partly enclosed by Osceola's Breadtray Ridge, it has been called Breadtray Basin. There is an intriguing view into this area from a ledge on the trailless summit of Middle Osceola.

After some initial bushwhack wandering, for some distance in the lower valley we followed the route of the old Breadtray Basin Trail, which ascended Osceola from Tripoli Road, starting above the East Pond Trail. This trail was laid out by Osceola fire warden C.B. Schiffer in 1915 and mostly followed the phone line that served the Osceola fire lookout. Mark holds up a length of phone wire, which is still found along much of the route of the trail. The trail was abandoned in the 1950s. We were grateful for some intel provided by previous explorers of this old trail.

The now-overgrown logging road that served as the route for the lower part of the trail.

The basin is drained by the main headwater stream of Eastman Brook.

The West and Middle Peaks of Osceola are seen across a small wetland meadow on the broad floor of the basin.

Zoomed in. These two trailless peaks are on the Trailwrights 72 list of 4000-foot peaks.

A large white slab on a ridge to the west beckons for a future bushwhack.

Wild spruce forest cloaks this expansive area.

A tributary brook has laid down an open swath of gravel.

There must have been a major runoff through here, perhaps from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

Breadtray Ridge encloses the bowl on the SE.

Traversing the floor of the bowl. As we proceeded the young trees got higher and higher until we couldn't see our feet.

After pushing through an area of dense young spruce, we found the site of a logging camp presumably operated by the Woodstock Lumber Company's Woodstock & Thornton Gore Railroad around 1910. This was one of two collapsed stoves that we spotted.

Another collapsed stove. A partly buried shovel blade can be seen in the center.

This rusted spoon was sticking out of the ground.

We figured this ferny clearing may have been the site of one of the camp buildings.

Coffee is served.

This pretty brook served as the camp's water source.

We unearthed several bottles, then reburied them where we found them. (Note that it is ILLEGAL to remove any of these logging artifacts from the WMNF. And not fair to others who might want to see them.) This bottle contained Atwood's Jaundice Bitters, "Formerly Made by Moses Atwood, Georgetown, Mass." Patent medicines were popular in the lumber camps.

Yuck! But it was enhanced with lime and soda.

This small bottle read "CARTER'S" on the bottom. Perhaps it held a supply of ink.

A boot sole resting next to a heel iron, used on hobnail boots for traction in ice and snow. (Thanks to reader Ronald A. Waters for this info.)

At some point only the eyelets will remain.

Yet another well-preserved artifact.

We headed up an eastern branch of the brook towards a slide. This ledgy cascade was a wonderful surprise.

A closer look.

Nice spot to hang out on the top.

After struggling up the valley through dense woods on a rough sidehill, we rejoined the brook at the bottom of the slide runout.

A study of aerial photos suggests that this slide fell during the 1938 hurricane, and may have come down anew in the late 1990s.

The slide was fairly easy to climb, with an occasional tricky spot.

A layered rock wall along the slide's edge. According to geologist Thom Davis, the layering is probably due to horizontal jointing in the granite bedrock.

The slide is strewn with boulders of all shapes and sizes.

Looking back to a spur ridge of West Osceola.

A raw slash of gravel.

We carefully picked our way through the jumble of rocks.

King of the slide.

Peering up at the ledgy nubble of West Osceola.

A wet and slippery ledge shelf.

Mark called this "Creature from the Black Lagoon slime."

Up to the most open, gravelly part of the slide. We took a long break up here.

Time to relax for a while.

Had the day been clearer, we would have had a fine view of Mt. Moosilauke.

Above the gravel the slide became much trickier, with wet slimy slabs.


Time to head into the woods and whack up to the Mount Osceola Trail. Mark is quickly swallowed by the dense growth.

In the Osceola woods.

On the way up we crossed the fire warden's phone line.

Not much left of the Breadtray Basin Trail corridor here.

A fallen pole that once supported the phone line.

We reached the trail about two miles up and rock-hopped our way down to Tripoli Road. What we had thought was an expansion of the parking lot turned out to be the installation of a snazzy new toilet at the Osceola trailhead. A walk back down the road completed our trek.