Thursday, June 13, 2019

Osceola: 6/12/19

A bluebird June day called for good views, and despite clouds of black flies the vistas were magnificent from Middle Osceola and the main summit of Mt. Osceola.

This cushy start belies the relentlessly rocky trail ahead on the ascent from Tripoli Road.

The rockfest that is the lower half of the Mt. Osceola Trail.


There's been lots of blowdown near the top of Breadtray Ridge. Kudos to the volunteer crew from for their recent work on this trail.

The middle section of the trail has some nice smooth footing.

One of many rock waterbars and other improvements put in by AMC/WMNF crews in recent years, partly funded by the AMC Four Thousand Footer Committee.

Rock steps aid in the traverse of this tricky ledge.

Slanting ledges on an upper switchback. Wet but grippy.

View from the trail along the switchbacks.

My first destination was Middle Osceola, a "Trailwrights 72" peak I had visited once before. The first part of the herd path/bushwhack combo across the ridge is along the footbed of the old Breadtray Basin Trail, also known as the Breadtray Ravine Trail and Osceola West. Opened around 1915 by Osceola fire warden C.B. Schiffer, it ascended from Tripoli Road on the SW. It was abandoned in the mid-1950s.

The warden's phone line followed this trail, and the wire is still present in many places.

A ledge in the woods along the bushwhack with an intermittent herd path.

I found a ledge on the south side of the peak with unusual views, here looking NW towards the West Peak of Osceola and the Franconia Range.

The crags near the top of West Peak are unofficially named "Peggy's Perch," in honor of Trailwrights stalwart Peggy Graham.

Zoom on the Franconias.

Looking south over Breadtray Ridge to Mt. Tecumseh.

My favorite aspect of the vista here is the look down into the broad expanse of Breadtray Basin, the wild valley on the SW side of Osceola.

Looking out towards Mt. Moosilauke.

On the north side of the peak I found a neat stand-up view of the Split Cliff and Dogleg Slide on the main summit of Osceola.

Ragged rock faces on Split Cliff.

Firetower footing on the true summit of Mt. Osceola. This tower was in use from 1910-1942; the later tower on the summit view ledge stood from 1942-1985.

This clearing may have been the site of a shelter that stood here in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The classic Osceola vista along the ridge towards East Peak with layers of mountains beyond.

The wild view down the Osceola Brook ravine to the Sandwich Range.

Peering down at the water-streaked slabs of a slide in the Osceola Brook ravine.

The high peaks of the Sandwich Range.

Mt. Washington behind Mt. Carrigain.

Summit benchmark.

Nice view into the Pemi Wilderness from the trail just a short distance north of the summit.

Sandwich Dome beyond the village of Waterville Valley.

The K1 Cliff on Mt. Kancamagus. Note the sheer rock wall bordering the high-elevation flume on the left end.

Late afternoon light enhances the view.

On the way down I traced a bit of what I presume is the footbed of the original trail up Osceola, opened in the 1850s by innkeeper Nathaniel Greeley and in use into the 1930s. The trail corridor was filled in with soft moss, so I followed alongside through the woods. This route had an almost prehistoric feel to it. It's doubtful it could be distinguished farther down the mountain, where repeated logging encroachments necessitated frequent relocations and the eventual abandonment in favor of the current route from Tripoli Road.

Middle Osceola seen from the Mount Osceola Trail.

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