Friday, January 8, 2021

East Slide, Mt. Passaconaway: 1/7/21

On a fine early winter day I teamed up with Cath Goodwin for a long bushwhack to the East Slide of Mt. Passaconaway. Heading off-trail into a remote corner of the Sandwich Range Wilderness was especially appealing after the shocking and saddening events of the previous day. 

The East Slide, which was unleashed by the infamous Hurricane of '38, is seen as a white gash on the flank of the mountain in this view from Mt. Chocorua.

Seen along the Oliverian Brook Trail.

Snowshoeing along the grade of a branch line of the Swift River Railroad (1906-1916), whose crews logged throughout the Oliverian Brook valley.

Oliverian Brook.

Into the Wilderness.

Heading up the Passaconaway Cutoff.

Unbroken trail...nice.

We left the Cutoff and began the bushwhack with a visit to a beaver bog with an imposing view of Mt. Passaconaway. The top of the East Slide is visible on the left side of the mountain.

Square Ledge, with its sheer eastern face displayed, and Nanamocomuck Peak, marked by another 1938 slide.

Skirting around the bog in spruce forest.

Snow-capped 'shroom.

Cath crosses the site of a Swift River Railroad logging camp.

We weren't sure what these hoops were used for.

Wood stove with an intricate pattern on the front.

Crossing the brook that served as the camp's water source.

Several brooks meander across this plateau at the foot of Passaconaway.

Heading towards the mountain.

Beginning a long traversing climb on the east slope, mostly through open hardwoods.

White ash, reaching skyward.

Big sheared-off boulder.

Open glade on a small plateau.

Climbing towards the low January sun.

Mushroom tree.

Getting steeper.

A massive yellow birch at the upper edge of the hardwoods.

Woodpecker multi-level.

We thought the top prints in this photo looked like bobcat tracks, but the tracks below show claw marks.

As I learned on a trip out here last March, to get to the East Slide one must cross the steep gullied track of an older landslide.

The older slide shows up on this photo of Passaconaway that appeared in the 1916 book, Passaconaway in the White Mountains, by Charles Edward Beals, Jr. Also note the top of the older of two eastern slides on Mt. Tripyramid, a small part of which is still followed by the Sabbaday Brook Trail.

The crossing of the gully was sketchy on both steep banks.

After climbing and traversing on the slope between the two slides, we emerged onto steep terrain on the lower half of the 1938 East Slide.

Looking up the slide to the scrubby neck that separates the lower and upper sections of the slide. We didn't get here until after 3:00 pm, so in the interest of doing most of the return bushwhack in daylight, we opted not to ascend to the upper section.

We had a pretty fine view where we were, looking to Mt. Paugus, Mt. Chocorua and the Moats.

Cath assumes a skiing pose.

Adding Square Ledge (down in front, in shadow) to the view.

Mt. Chocorua and First & Middle Sisters.

A steep bluff rises to the north of the slide. Shadows getting long - time to head out.

Descending from the slide.

Pastel pink in the hardwoods.

Cath's monster headlamp illuminates the Passaconaway Cutoff. A good trip!


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