Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Late October Ramblings: Cape Cod and Kettles Path

CAPE COD: 10/27-10/29/23

Carol and I headed down to the Outer Cape for a fun family visit, which included some walking along sandy Cape trails.

My brother Drew, his wife Kate and I spent a few hours walking and birding on the trails of Massachusetts Audubon's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, one of the gems of the Outer Cape.

With the aid of our binoculars and Drew's scope, we identified 18 species during our two-mile walk. Most numerous by far was the Greater Yellowlegs, several groups of which were foraging out on the marsh.

Classic Cape Cod pitch pine forest.

Looking across Wellfleet Bay, we could spot Great Beach Hill in the distance, accessed by the Great Island Trail, one of the best and most remote hikes on the Cape.

Fall color on a sandy slope.

On a sunny 80-degree Saturday, Carol and I took w walk on the winding Nauset Marsh Trail on the Cape Cod National Seashore.

We also made a stop at Nauset Light Beach. Yikes!

The mighty Atlantic.

There were lots of folks taking advantage of what was likely the last sunbathing opportunity of the season.

The temperature was considerably cooler on Sunday as we took a stroll along the Red Maple Swamp Trail. Fall foliage on the Cape!

A glacial erratic along the Fort Hill Trail.

View of Nauset Marsh from atop the boulder.

Enjoying the serene scene at Nauset Marsh.

The magnificent home built by whaling captain Edward Penniman in 1868.

KETTLES PATH: 10/31/23

Back to late October reality with temps down in the 20s overnight, setting up a chilly but sunny day for fall maintenance on the Kettles Path in Waterville Valley.

Spruce blowdown on the ascending sidecut section of the trail. About 10" in diameter, it took a while to cut.


Spent nearly an hour brushing out beech saplings along a 0.1 mile section of trail. 

This battered but still towering white ash is a landmark along the trail.

One of 15 drainages cleaned along the way.

The reward at the top of Kettles Path is the marvelous view from the open ledges of The Scaur, here gazing south to Sandwich Dome, Jennings Peak and Acteon Ridge. The sun was warm enough to hang out in just a long-sleeved shirt.

The snow guns were blasting on the upper slopes of Mt. Tecumseh.

Middle and South Tripyramid. The Scaur is the westernmost extension of the Tripyramid massif.

With 2 1/2 hours of daylight left, I hiked along Irene's Path to the fine viewpoint 0.7 mile to the east. The "Rock of Gibraltar" is an impressive sight near the start of Irene's.

A wee bit of color as the trail meanders along the gentle ridge.

As the trail descends off the ridge into the Flume Brook valley, it passes what has become one of my favorite vistas - looking north to the Osceolas and Mad River Notch.

Zoom on East Osceola and the wild gouge of the Painted Cliff.

Seen in the distance through the Notch is the broad crest of Owl's Head in the Pemigewasset Wilderness.

I am always impressed by this rock staircase built by the OBP Trailworks crew. Irene's Path was opened in 2014 as a new access to the Waterville Flume, after parts of the Flume Brook Trail were washed out by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. The route of Irene's Path was inspired by a Scaur-to-Flume Trail that  was opened around 1915 but soon obliterated by logging. The round trip from the Livermore parking lot to The Scaur and the Irene's Path viewpoint is 5.4 miles with about 1100 ft. of elevation gain. Note that there is one ledge on a steep switchback on Irene's Path that tends to ice up in cold weather.


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