Thursday, May 7, 2020

Scenes from the Wild Side of Tecumseh

Spent a day rambling off-trail in the Haselton Brook valley, on the southwest or "back" side of Mt. Tecumseh. The day featured spring flowers, miles of hardwood forest, old slide tracks, a couple of view ledges, and, perhaps, a relic of 19th century history.

Something was foraging here, possibly a bear?

Storm-beaten maple.

There are a few spots in the valley where a semi-rich soil is favorable for Dutchman's Breeches.

Red trilliums are a favorite sign of spring.

Lichen, rock and moose nuggets.

Hogback and Fisher Mountains, across the valley.

I returned to a favorite spot with perhaps the largest colony of Dutchman's Breeches I've seen in the Whites.

Rocky terrain in a col.

Gorgeous open hardwoods. Good stand-in for the Catskills this spring.

Spring beauties and yellow violets.

A maple trio.

Trout lilies brighten the forest floor.

This corridor might be a remnant of the WMNF Haselton Brook Trail, which was in existence only from the 1930s until it was abandoned during World War II. It was also called the Bald Mountain Trail, and led 4 miles up the valley to the col between Mt. Tecumseh and West Tecumseh.

A peek at Tecumseh's peak.

Moses Sweetser's classic guidebook, "The White Mountains: A Handbook for Travellers," first published in 1876, described three bushwhack routes in this area starting from the Elkins farm at the base of Fisher Mountain. One route followed a washed-out road to a mineral spring house that was once located two miles up the valley, and climbed a spur ridge Sweetser named Spring Mountain. Four years ago, on a bushwhack up to the big granite ledges of Spring Mountain, I chanced upon this little pool on the floor of the valley. The arrangements of these moss-covered rocks appears human-made to me. Could this have been one of the two mineral springs mentioned by Sweetser? Or some kind of watering hole?

Haselton Brook, deep in the valley.

Perhaps I've looked at too many cellar holes and old foundations on recent hikes, but this array of rocks almost looked like the scattered remains of a foundation. Or just a random assortment of rocks...

I also wondered about these piles of stones.

Small cascades on Haselton Brook.

As a student of slide history in the southern Whites, I've long been intrigued by another statement in Sweetser's guide: "On the l. [as one goes up the valley] are the sharp slopes of Mt. Avalanche, which are striped from summit to base with the white tracks of slides." These slides on the great SW spur ridge of West Tecumseh have long since been revegetated - indeed, reforested - but their multiple tracks show up well on this NW Hillshade LIDAR image from the NH Stone Wall Mapper on the NH Granit website.

They are even more prominent on the NE Hillshade.

I crossed back over to that side of the brook for a little exploration along the base of the slope and quickly came upon the moss-grown runout of one of the old slides.

Looking up the gully of this old slide track.

This was the second of four old slide tracks I came upon during a brief southward traverse. It now hosts a fine stand of spruce.

A small opening I had spotted on Google Earth proved to be one of the few remaining open patches on the slides. It even had a little view across the valley to the SW spur of Green Mountain, with the ledges of Spring Mountain on the left.

Side view of the slide.

Back across the brook, I ascended to several view ledges on the northernmost of three great spur ridges that drop off the south ridges of Tecumseh into the Haselton Brook valley. Not far up the slope is an old roadbed that is perhaps another remnant of the old Haselton Brook Trail.

No day of bushwhacking is complete without some prickly spruce.

One of the ledges was an inviting ramp.

The upper ledge was a fine spot with a wide view SW down the Haselton Brook valley to distant horizons.

Mt. Moosilauke, still looking rather wintry.

Close by to the south were the middle (Spring Mountain) and southern of the three spur ridges.

 The great granite slabs of Spring Mountain.

Apparently I wasn't the only wanderer in the valley today. Stay safe!

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