Friday, February 15, 2019

Breaking Trail to The Scaur: 2/14/19

Snowshoeing delight in fresh powder on a bluebird afternoon.

I had originally planned to climb Mt. Tecumseh. There was a single set of snowshoe tracks heading up the Mt. Tecumseh Trail, so I figured I would help break the trail out through the new snow. Just as I was about to start up, a bareboot hiker came over the snowbank, lamenting that he hadn't brought his Microspikes (for 8-10" of fresh snow!) and hoping he could make it. I've climbed Tecumseh often enough that I had no desire for snowshoeing 5 miles of rototilled snow, so I headed back to the car and drove to the Livermore trailhead, trying to understand the "Microspike mindset." I recently received an email from a very accomplished winter hiker who "rued the day Micropsikes were invented." Breaking trail on snowshoes is an essential part of the winter hiking experience, and I was glad to see that the Kettles Path to The Scaur was unbroken, as seen in this photo.

Making tracks on a nice sidecut section constructed a few years ago by the Waterville Valley Athletic & Improvement Association.

Looking over the rim of one of the glacially-formed hollows known as The Kettles.

A snowshoe hare had broken the trail for about three feet.

The third Kettle is deep.

The Big Pine.

It was slow going breaking trail through generally 8-10" of heavy powder. To borrow a quote from an article I wrote long ago, "with the labor of Hercules, you advance at the ponderous pace of a dinosaur." But it was a gorgeous day to move slowly through the sunlit forest on one of my favorite trails.

Looking back at the Waterville ski trails.

The Kettles Path ends with a bit of a kick, making a steep climb through conifers on the back side of The Scaur.

Trail junction just below The Scaur.

The short, steep side trail to the ledge.

A throwback WVAIA sign.

This sometimes-tricky ledgy slot was a wonderful snow ramp today.

Final approach.

Untouched snow on the viewing perch.


The double summit of Sandwich Dome, with Noon Peak and Jennings Peak to the R.

Long view out towards Lost Pass.

East Osceola and the Painted Cliff.

Mt. Tecumseh.

Thornton Gap, the route of Tripoli Road.

Mt. Osceola.

Middle and South Tripyramid, with part of West Sleeper behind.

I went a short way along Irene's Path to the "Rock of Gibraltar."

I made a meandering bushwhack around the base of The Scaur for the first part of the descent. Pure hardwood joy.

Looked like an old black cherry.

Nearly four feet of snow in here.

Sweet snowshoeing.

The cliffs of The Scaur viewed through a haze of branches.

Last sunlight on the Kettles Path.


  1. Hi Steve. Thanks for your blog entry on the Scaur; I've yet to visit there but I'm ever more enticed. I'm curious whether or not you tried to educate the barebooted hiker about the damage they cause to the trail, and how unpleasant it can be for subsequent hikers. Even if it wouldn't have changed their plans to summit Tecumseh that day, it might encourage the use of snowshoes their next time out. Sometimes folks need a little prodding. Thanks!

    1. Hi Dale, Thanks for your comment! I did mention to that fellow that snowshoes would be better but didn't elaborate. There was recently a long thread about this issue on one of the 4000-footer Facebook pages in which a couple folks suggested telling barebooters that their hike would be easier in snowshoes. That seems like a good approach. Enjoy the Scaur whenever you go - it's a great spot! -- Steve