Saturday, April 10, 2021

Woodchuck Ledge Area: 4/9/21

An incredibly gorgeous spring day brought me back to the southwestern side of the Moat Range for some more exploration of ledges and cliffs. Since Passaconaway (Dugway) Rd. was gated, I parked before the Albany Covered Bridge and walked the road to the starting point for the bushwhack. From the covered bridge one gets a fine upstream view of the Swift River with the cliffs known to climbers as the Painted Walls in the distance.


The walk on Passaconaway Rd. was quiet and pleasant. Along the way I heard several Pine Warblers trilling from the tops of tall white pines.


This roadside cellar hole is presumably a remnant of one of the several farms that were developed along this road in the 1800s.

As I ascended through the woods towards Woodchuck Ledge, I popped out onto a granite slab with a fine view of Mt. Chocorua.

An interesting rock face seen along a spur ridge.

A dramatic vantage point peering down into the valley below...


...and across to Haystack, (rising above Eagle Ledge), which I had traversed two days before.


The cliffs of Haystack.


 Pale corydalis is thriving in some crevices around the ledges. Their pink and yellow flowers should be blooming in May if not sooner with this early spring. As always, I stepped carefully on rock when traversing the ledge areas, to avoid trampling lichens and plants. 

A rock wall, circumvented with a sideways detour.

The Tripyramids seen in the distance over a juniper thicket.

Long view to the southeast.

I found a great perch at the top of Woodchuck Ledge. Curiously, for many years rock climbers have used the Woodchuck Ledge name for what the USGS has named Eagle Ledge, the next set of crags to the east.


Nice spot to sit and admire the Sandwich Range.

After a long sojourn in the sun, I whacked through some spruce woods to a lovely hardwood draw at the base of a cliff dubbed "Crag Y" by climbers. One of several cliffs on the Moat spur known as Haystack, this one is really hidden away and is visible from few vantage points.

It is a long band of crags with many interesting features. According to White Mountain climbing literature, it was accidentally discovered by two local climbers in 1987, who had gotten somewhat lost when looking for another crag. At the time, some climbers were calling hidden gems they had found "Crag X," so this one was named "Crag Y."

This nearly sheer face is known as the Sunkist Wall.


Another angle. An impressive spot!

Since I was fairly close, I made a short, steep climb to the NW ledges of Haystack for some stellar views.


The Sandwich Range in silhouette.

Bear Mountain, Mt. Tremont, Bartlett Haystack, Mt. Carrigain and Table Mountain.

A large red pine situated in the midst of a spruce forest.

A magnificent oak.

And, yet another bushwhack where a balloon was found and carried out of the woods.


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Haystack-Moat Bushwhack: 4/7/21

 A long bushwhack on a gorgeous spring day - across the spur of the Moat Range known as Haystack, visiting a number of ledges and cliffs, and up to the Moat Mountain Trail between Middle and South Moat, with descent by trail. There was much of interest on this backcountry journey.

The whack began with a climb through the sapling forest of an old clearcut.  

Into better woods.

The first of many crags on Haystack.

Looking down on a slightly tricky scramble I made to get up on the crest of the ridge. One can easily get "cliffed out" in this area.

First view, looking off to the Green Hills of Conway.

More scrambling.

Looking up the ridge to the "Haystack."

Long view to the south.


The south face of the Haystack ridge is lined with cliffs.

The views keep coming.

Ledgy ramp to the sky.

In keeping with bushwhacking LNT, I avoided stepping on fragile lichens, staying on rock or resilient blueberry scrub.

First view across to South Moat, the day's ultimate objective.

The impressive upper cliffs.

Looking down a ramp.

Relaxing on a perch at the edge of the cliffs.

Another viewpoint, with a fine perspective on the Sandwich Range.

Whiteface & Passaconaway.

A pleasant col along the ridge.

Emerging at the northeastern ledges.

Looking into the interior of the Moat Range: Southwest Moat, Big Attitash and North Moat beyond a spur ridge of Middle Moat.

Southwest Moat is a wild-looking peak, with dark woods and crags.

I hadn't visited Haystack in ~20 years, and had forgotten how good the views were.

Mt. Carrigain behind Mt. Tremont and Bartlett Haystack.

From here I could study my planned route up to the Moat ridge.

But first, one last viewpoint on Haystack's northwest side.

The Sandwich Range, the Osceolas and Bear Mountain.

The traverse to the base of the main Moat ridge led through a variety of forests and a confusing terrain of bumps and drainages at the head of the Dry Brook basin. These woods definitely felt "out there."

By chance, I traversed along the base of this outcrop.

I postholed across a deep gully where the snow was lingering.

Better going in these scruffy hardwoods.

A Ruffed Grouse was here.

I was aiming for this isolated ledge area on the flank of the Moat ridge. (Thank you, Garmin.)

One of the more secluded spots on the Moats. The northeast ledges of Haystack are seen to the left of Chocorua.

From here, it was a straightforward climb to the Moat ridgecrest.

There was more snow than expected on this south-facing slope.

Starting the final steep pitch to the ridge.

The crest was guarded by a jumble of rocks.

Emerging on the ridgecrest, atop the bump between South and Middle Moat. I rock-hopped my way across to the trail.

Heading for South Moat.

Though it tops out at just 2772 ft., South Moat offers big-time views.

The snow-splotched Presidentials beyond Middle and North Moat.

Wildcats and Carter Dome.

Jumble o' peaks in the central Whites.

Vast lowlands to the south.

East over North Conway to Kearsarge North, the Green Hills and western Maine.

Looking down on the Haystack ridge. It was nice to sit and contemplate the day's route.

Descending over ledges on the Moat Mountain Trail.

This big ledge is the last viewpoint on the way down, or the first on the way up.

A serious mountain runner blew by on his way up to the summit, and before long cruised by again on his way down. His footwork was something to behold.

Beautiful red pines line much of the trail.

A steep and rough section - this trail climbs 1670 ft. in the upper 1.3 miles to the South Moat summit.

The lower 1.3 mile section is wide, graded and a pleasure to walk - courtesy of an excellent relocation crafted by the trail crew of the USFS Saco Ranger District a few years ago.

Haystack lives up to its name in this view from Passaconaway Road.

And again behind Red Eagle Pond.