Saturday, October 29, 2022

Passaconaway Cutoff: 10/28/22

The first of two fall maintenance trips on Passaconaway Cutoff, the adopted trail of the AMC Four Thousand Footer Committee. I was glad to see that the USFS Saco Ranger District crew had taken out this massive crawl-under blowdown along the Oliverian Brook Trail.

October sun in the hardwood forest along the valley section of the Cutoff.

Rock waterbar before cleaning.

Rock waterbar after cleaning.


One of several blowdowns encountered along the way.


The West Branch of Oliverian Brook: a wilderness stream.

This big leaning spruce blowdown has been a nemesis for a couple of years: a walk-under in summer, but a nuisance in winter with deep snow cover. I'd never attempted to take it out, deeming it too tricky to tackle solo.


I was delighted to see that it had been cut down, presumably by the USFS crew (thank you!) and was now a "stepover," which is normally left in place in a Wilderness area. Since this trunk was at an awkward angle on an incline, I decided to remove it. It took half an hour to cut this out with my little Silky saw, proceeding carefully to prevent the blade from binding.



At rest. Got 33 of the 57 drainages cleaned before reaching my turnaround time. Will return to clean the remaining drainages on the upper half-mile of this 1.7 mile trail.

Mount Passaconaway looms across the valley.

Checking out the drainages on the way back down.

Cascade on the West Branch of Oliverian Brook.


Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Foggy Afternoon on OBP: 10/25/22

An afternoon jaunt up to the first outlook on the Old Bridle Path. The fog was thick in Franconia Notch, but there was sun north of the Notch and I had hopes for clearing along Franconia Ridge. Alas, it was not to be save for a few tantalizing glimpses.

Foggy in the hardwoods.


This fall a multi-year reconstruction project, supported by $1 million in Federal funding, has begun on the trails comprising the iconic Franconia Ridge loop. These impressive rock steps about 1.2 miles up the trail were recently constructed by the AMC Trail Crew and the OBP Trailworks crew in partnership with the White Mountain National Forest. (Nice that OBP is working on OBP!) With their flat surface, extra width, and lower height, these steps are carefully designed to keep hikers on the trail. Some existing rock steps that are high, uneven and awkward are often bypassed by hikers. Excellent work!

Severe erosion will present many challenges as the project proceeds.

Interesting rock formation along the ledgy section leading up to the first outlooks.

When I first arrived at the lower outllooks, the clouds briefly parted for views of the slides in Dry Brook Ravine. On the left are the "New York Slabs," so named by the late Guy Waterman, longtime Franconia Ridge Trail steward. On the right is the slide that was triggered by the 2017 Halloween storm, which I climbed this summer.

A closer look at the New York Slabs. This is the remnant of a late 19th century slide, which appears on a 1900 postcard. It bears massive ice flows in winter.

Fog on Agony Ridge.

A look into the south branch of Walker Ravine.

This is an old but still sizeable slide. Last winter I snowshoed up onto the lower part but would like to visit the steep upper section, hopefully next summer. These were the best views I was granted during an hour's stay at the ledge. An interesting outing, nonetheless.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

2022 White Mountain Crop Hunger Walk: Crescent Range Loop

On Friday, October 21st six of us enjoyed a gorgeous sunny fall day for the 34th annual White Mountain Crop Hunger Walk, a "hike for hunger" that benefits the programs of Church World Service. This year's participants included Thom Davis, Dennis Lynch, Mary Ann McGarry, Candace Morrison, Gary Tompkins, and this correspondent. We missed longtime participant Roger Doucette , who wasn't able to join us this year. Our route was a nine-mile loop over the wild, less-frequented Crescent Range, just north of the Presidentials, on a network of trails admirably maintained by the Randolph Mountain Club (RMC). The Crescent Ridge part of the route is within the 10,000 acre Randolph Community Forest.
The Church World Service CROP program began in 1947 and the first CROP Hunger Walk was held in 1969. Each year walks in more than 500 communities raise more than $6 million for CWS hunger programs. For more information see
Ours is the only Crop Hunger Walk that takes place on mountain trails. Since its beginning in 1989 our walk has raised more than $97,000 for the anti-hunger programs of Church World Service, with more than $24,000 of that provided to local food pantries in the western White Mountains. We owe the success of our walk to the consistent generosity of our sponsors. The CROP Hunger Walk theme is “Ending hunger, one step at a time."

To make a donation for our walk, visit, or mail a check made out to "Church World Service" to Steve Smith, PO Box 485, Lincoln, NH 03251. Thanks!

We set out around 9:00 am at the Ravine House site trailhead on Durand Road in the valley section of Randolph. Left to right are Candace, Dennis, Thom, MaryAnn and Gary.

The first part of our loop was a 1.3 mile climb up the Ledge Trail to the fine viewpoint known as Lookout Ledge.

Climbing through a bronzed hardwood forest with a deep, dry leaf mat on the trail, making for tricky footing.

Approaching Lookout Ledge, we passed this small outlook towards Mt. Adams called The Eyrie.

Lookout Ledge is a wonderful sunny spot with excellent views. Behind our group one can see Pine Mountain, Mt. Moriah and part of the Carter Range in the distance.

The classic view from Lookout Ledge peers across the Randolph Valley to Mt. Madison and Mt. Adams, with a dramatic look into the glacial cirque of King Ravine. Unfortunately at this time of year the angle of the sun is low and the vista is shadowed and backlit.

After a nice break in the sun, we headed up the Crescent Ridge Trail towards Mt. Randolph, with one steep scrambly pitch along the way.

An RMC sign marks the heavily spruce-wooded summit of Mt. Randolph.

Bullwinkle was here.

A beautiful hardwood glade heading north along the ridge.

After a steep climb we reached the next outlook along the ridge.

Thanks to some recent clearing by the RMC of what was an overgrown viewpoint, you can once again see Mt. Lafayette, in the distance on the far right. Also visible are North and South Twin, the Dartmouth Range, and Mt. Bond.

The three Northern Presidentials are seen to the left of nearby Mt. Randolph.

A comfortable spot in the sun for a lunch break.

Farther along the ridge was this gnarled old yellow birch in a meadow-like opening.

A bit farther along, off to the right, is one of the ski runs of the Crescent Ridge Glade, maintained by the Granite Backcountry Alliance.

Ascending to 3251-ft. Mt. Crescent, our high point of the day.

The North Outlook on Mt. Crescent is one of my favorite vistas in the Whites.

Here you have a unique, sweeping view across the valley of the Upper Ammonoosuc River to the peaks of the Pliny Range (Pliny Mtn., Mt. Starr King, Mt. Waumbek and South, Middle and North Weeks) and the Pilot Range (Mt. Cabot, the Bulge, The Horn and Unknown Pond Ridge).

Zoom on Mt. Cabot, with its great talus slope, The Bulge and The Horn.

There's a glimpse of the Pond of Safety, tucked in under Pliny Mtn.

To the northeast is Black Crescent Mountain, the highest peak in the Crescent Range. The cliff and talus slope on its southwest side was once known as the Crescent Scar.

Back in March 2009, John "1HappyHiker" Compton and I undertook a snowshoe bushwhack to the Crescent Scar, finding this closeup view of it along the way.

Turning onto the Mount Crescent Trail, we enjoyed a gentle ramble through boreal forest across the broad summit of the mountain.

Over here is the mountain's other outlook, looking south to the Presidentials.

At this sunny, ledgy opening Gary set up his camera for our group shot.

Then it was time to undertake the very steep descent off the summit. The first ledge scramble going down is a doozy.

Beyond the lower junction with Crescent Ridge Trail, the Mount Crescent Trail mellows out in hardwood forest. The thick leaf cover concealed rocks, roots and the occasional hole and made for slower going on the lower elevation trails.

We made a short side trip on Castleview Loop to Castleview Ledge, and another fine view of Mts. Madison and Adams.

After looping around on the Peek Path and Cook Path down to Randolph Hill Road, we descended a short, delightful bit of road known as Grassy Lane.

We then meandered down a series of "pleasure paths" to Durand Road: Pasture Path, EZ Way, Diagonal and Bee Line.

Some interesting history at the trailhead.

Happy to have completed a great hike, exiting before dark. Thank you for your support!