Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Osceola Middle Slide: 8/6/19

Paid a leisurely visit to the middle of the prominent slides on the north side of Mt. Osceola, between the Dogleg Slide on the east and the Steaming Gift Slide complex on the west.

Pine Brook at the East Pond Trail crossing. All of the slides on the north side of Osceola are drained by various branches of this brook.

The spruce woods were open at the start of the bushwhack off the East Pond Trail, but it didn't last long.

Scrappy woods are the rule in the spacious Pine Brook drainage. During the course of five slide bushwhacks in here I don't recall a single open hardwood glade.

There was one short section of better woods along the brook that drains the Middle and Steaming Gift Slides.

The tangled confluence of the forks that drain the above-named slides.

After an initial messy stretch, the brook that drains the Middle Slide was dry, providing an open route up the drainage, far easier than the thick woods and rough terrain along the sides.

Normally a brook in a tight drainage like this would be choked with blowdown. Apparently the old conifer growth was swept away when the Middle Slide fell during Hurricane Carol in 1954. It was replaced by white birches that are still fairly young and supple and not prone to blowdown.

Big rocks approaching the base of the slide.

This wet slab at the bottom of the slide looked dangerously slick.

A bypass through the woods was steep and nasty, but safer.

The next slab was like a miniature colosseum.

Not going up that...

Bypass #2.

The main part of the slide in sight above.

This rubbly section provided a route around more slabs.

The three forks of the slide visible here. The left one is very short. The stream runs down the middle fork, but the main slide is the right fork.

Where the left and middle forks meet.

The small brook cascading down the middle fork.

Looking up the main fork.

After scrambling up the edge of the next slab I angled down to a comfortable seat with a wide view to the north.

Summer skies over the Hancock Range.

North Hancock, with its Arrow Slide, and South Hancock, enclosing the bowl of the upper North Fork of Hancock Branch.

Galehead, Southwest Twin, South Twin and West Bond.

Looking up from my perch.

I scrambled a little higher up the slide.

Sunlit grasses.

Meadowsweet (Spiraea alba), frequently found on slide tracks.

It was tempting to continue higher up the slide on these slabs, but the open slide only goes up to 3400 ft. and the whack from there to West Osceola would be thick, cliffy and miserable. Going up these slabs would have been doable, but coming back down might have been a different story.

 The view and the sun were just fine here, so I spent a couple hours lounging on the ledges.

A zoom on the Hancock Overlook. This, the other viewpoint farther up the Kanc, and the observation tower on Mt. Carrigain were the only visible signs of human intrusion on the mountainscape.

Heading back down.

Parting shot, with a bit of the ridgecrest seen above.

Sunlit moss.

Descending the loose rock of the brookbed was slower than going up.

An ocean of hobblebush.

Evening at Pine Brook.

After hours of scratchy whacking, the logging railroad grade section of East Pond Trail was most welcome.

The Middle Slide is still fairly fresh in this 1964 aerial photo from USGS Earth Explorer.

The north slides of Osceola from Google Earth. The light green birch growth stands out along the brookbed leading up to the Middle Slide.

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