Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Mack Brook Slides: 6/28/22

A bushwhack up the Mack Brook valley on the south side of Scar Ridge to climb two gravelly slides with good views. It's a two-mile whack to the base of the main slide on the valley headwall. The first half of the whack is through hardwood forest. Not far into this section I stirred up a bull moose who apparently was resting on the ground about six feet to my right. Gave me quite a start when he stood up and sauntered off through the woods.

Some boulders were scattered through the forest.

A nice glade passed along the way.

The second mile is through conifer forest. Old logging roads were of some use part of the way.

The broad upper floor of the valley is remarkably flat.

Up here Mack Brook dwindles to a tiny creek.

A few ferny birch glades mingle with the conifer forest.

At the north end of the flat area I reached the gentle runout of the main slide.

Interesting plates of rock embedded in the gravel.

The main slide in sight ahead.


The lower part of the headwall slide is fairly steep, with gravel and loose rock on the left and a rocky gully on the right.

I have not been able to determine when the Mack Brook slides fell. My best guess is 1954 during Hurricane Carol, at the same time as several slides on neighboring Mt. Osceola. They look fairly fresh in 1960 aerial photos.

My clinometer showed a slope of about 30 degrees at the foot of the slide. Overall, however, this slide averages a relatively low angle of 24 degrees.

Wide and dry, almost desert-like.

In his 1950s study, White Mountain slide researcher Edward Flaccus noted that these areas of rocky rubble and eroded glacial till are "barrens" where revegetation occurs very slowly, consisting mainly of stunted birch, spruce and fir. Many of the mini-trees in this harsh habitat exhibit chlorosis, a yellowing of the leaves due to lack of chlorophyll. 

A jumble of weathered boulders, probably Mt. Osceola Granite.

A white pine, struggling for survival.

Partway up the slide, on a shelf where some soil has accumulated, is a large patch of Rhodora that would put on a fine display of pink flowers in early June.

There are a few clusters of hardy ferns. Researcher Edward Flaccus recorded both spinulose wood fern and beech fern on several slides.

Side view.

From bottom to top, this slide offers a wide-screen view to the south, framed by southerly spurs of Scar Ridge. This was my third visit, and all have been enjoyable.

Looking up to the top of the slide, at 3200 ft.

This is the steepest pitch on the slide.

View from the top.

Zoomed. Peaks visible in the distance include Kearsarge, Ragged, Sunapee and Cardigan.

The uppermost cut of the slide can tempt as a gateway to a seldom-used route to the summit of Scar Ridge. However, speaking from experience, the going is steep and thick above, and near the top is complicated by a wide band of massive blowdown caused by the 2017 Halloween storm. Beware!

I descended partway along the main slide, then made a prickly sidehill bushwhack to the short but steep slide on the west side of the valley.

This slide has an average slope of about 34 degrees - much steeper than the headwall slide.

This slide is mostly loose gravel, with some ledge slabs mixed in.

This ledge comes in with a hefty 45-degree pitch - too steep for friction climbing for a non-technical climber like me. It was easy enough to skirt around it.

Scrambling up ledges to the top of the slide.



This slide has nice views as well, including a southern spur of Scar Ridge across the valley.

I've never heard of anyone using this ridge as a route to ascend Scar Ridge.

Looking up from the bottom of the western slide.

After whacking back to the main slide, I enjoyed some late afternoon views before heading down into the woods.


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