Saturday, July 20, 2019

Scenes from East Osceola: 7/18/19

Spent a long summer day enjoying this generally unloved mountain. Took ample time for relaxing at its three fine viewpoints, and bushwhacked to the tops of two slides for more views.

On the Greeley Ponds Trail.

From the Mount Osceola Trail, a glimpse of the impressive cliffs on East Osceola's NE spur.

Trailside boulder cave.

The trail climbs steeply beside this huge slab at ~3300 ft. This was part of a major slide that fell off East Osceola in 1891 or 1892. Before the trail was opened alongside it in the 1930s, this slide was sometimes used by Waterville hikers as a descent route into Mad River Notch.

The climb beside the slab is one of the more rugged spots on this steep section of trail.

The trail crosses the upper ledges of the early 1890s slide at 3700 ft.

These ledges offer outstanding views, with Upper Greeley Pond seen down on the floor of Mad River Notch, under the K2 Cliff of Mt. Kancamagus.

Mt. Carrigain and many other peaks are seen in the distance. The cliffs of the NE spur are seen below.

The Tripyramids and Mt. Passaconaway are seen to the SE.

The very steep climb to the East Osceola ridgecrest ends at "The Chute."

At the top of "The Chute" a side path leads a few yards right to an excellent western viewpoint, with ridge after ridge sweeping down from the slopes of Osceola and Scar Ridge.

Looking up at the main summit of Osceola.

The Split Cliff, in profile, and Osceola's West Peak.

The peak of East Osceola looms close at hand.

A nice easy section of trail on the shoulder of East Osceola.

I made a thick bushwhack loop down, across and up to visit both tops of a two-pronged slide that fell to the south of the early 1890s slide, perhaps during Hurricane Carol in 1954. This upper part of the slide is all loose rock and gravel.

More good views here.

Stacked rocks at the very top of the slide.

The whack across the steep slope to the other fork of the slide was slow going. It took 25 minutes to cover less than 0.1 mile.

Another great viewpoint. The visit to these slides was "research" for a Slide History of the Sandwich Range project I've been working on.

Upper Greeley Pond, 1700 ft. below.

The view here extended more to the SE.

Mt. Chocorua, Mt. Passaconaway, and North Tripyramid.

The K1 Cliff on the west side of Mt. Kancamagus. The sharp flume-like cut in the cliff can be seen on the left edge.

The K2 Cliff. Both of these cliffs were reached by short-lived paths cut by Waterville hikers in the early 1900s.

A dead birch reaches for the sky.

Not a bad spot to hang out for a while.

Down below, the slide has been gouged out where it turns a corner.

From here I made a steep whack back up to the trail near the summit.

In one area there was widespread evidence of illegal cutting by backcountry skiers opening up easier access to the slides, which are regularly skied in good snow years.

The cairn at the wooded and viewless summit of East Osceola.

There is a decent view east from a "fir wave" area about 50 yards north of the cairn. This vista will likely be overgrown within a few years.

I descended the Mount Osceola Trail halfway to the col with Mt. Osceola to visit this trailside ledge perch with fine views NW and north

Looking along the range to Scar Ridge and Kinsmans/Cannon.

Wide vista to the Franconia Range, Owl's Head, Mt. Garfield, South Twin and the Bonds. Mt. Hitchcock in the middle distance.

I continued down to the col and made another prickly bushwhack in search of a tiny pondlet on a thickly-wooded plateau. Avid bushwhacker "Old Man and the Saw" had stumbled on this a few years ago while attempting to trace the route of the long-abandoned Ravine Path, also known as the Osceola Brook Trail. This steep route was opened around 1900 by Watervillean Arthur L. Goodrich, and his description of it mentioned a "mountain meadow" near the col. The trail was abandoned in the 1940s, and I saw no trace of it.

Treading carefully to avoid trampling moss, I made my way to a rock with a view across the "pond" to the impressive cliffs above the col.

Osceola is a rugged mountain that is full of surprises.

Evening vista at the west outlook, back along the trail.

Last sun on Tripyramid.

Slow going on the descent to Greeley Ponds Trail - it always seems harder going down than going up. On the walk out through the valley I was serenaded by a chorus of Swainson's Thrushes.


  1. Steve, Your post inspired me to return to East Osceola fifty years after I reached it as my first 4000-footer with Camp Mowglis. Careless attention to your report led me to to try to cross the slide too early (4th photo) before I self-corrected. I understand the trail has been rerouted in part, but it was still plenty steep!

    Will Scott

    1. Hi Will,

      Glad you had a good return trip to East Osceola. The lower 0.8 mile was rerouted to avoid the first steep section up from Greeley Ponds, but above there it is still about as steep as they come. Can't imagine the early Waterville hikers coming down that slab in the 4th photo. I should have mentioned that there is a short dead-end path that leads out to the base of the slab.