On a crisp fall day with wall-to-wall sunshine, I headed back down to Waterville Valley to 1) check on how new home construction had impacted two trails and 2) take the long walk out to the South Slides to bask in the sun and enjoy some views.
A new house is under construction right beside the Cascade Path as it climbs towards its crossing of Cascade Ridge Road.
Another new house has been built right on top of the Boulder Path/Lower Snows Mountain X-C Trail as it splits left towards Slide Brook.
Impressive rock steps have recently been built where Cascade Path climbs up a bank from its crossing of Cascade Ridge Road. Previously the bank had been badly eroded.
From here I followed Cascade Path a bit farther, then the Swazeytown (shown here) and Lower Snows Mountain X-C Trails to the 2.2 mile mark on the Livermore Trail.
Along Lower Snows Mountain Trail I dropped down a short side path for a look at the site of the Swazeytown dam on Slide Brook, used to create a "head" of water for river drives on the Mad River in the early 1900s. A beam from the dam can be seen at the lower left. The brushy area at upper right was once a pond that formed behind the dam.
Pleasant walking along Lower Snows Mountain X-C Trail.
Expansive hardwood forest on the final approach to Livermore Trail. November is a great time of year to ramble through the hardwoods.
White Cascade on Slide Brook, next to the Livermore Trail.
The walk out to the South Slide is ideal for this time of year. While the upper elevations of many 4K trails are dark, cold and festooned with nasty ice flows, this trail passes mostly through bright, open hardwood forest and is dry and leafy with good footing and virtually no ice, just a few muddy patches near the bottom.
Into the Wilderness after an easy crossing of stony Avalanche Brook.
Welcome to the wilds of the Sandwich Range.
That's a serious blowdown!
An old sugar maple stands guard.
"Needle ice" forms in the soil when the ground is not yet frozen and the air temperature is below freezing.
A favorite sugar maple glade beside the trail at an unusually high elevation of 2900 ft.
From the point where the trail turns left to climb the 1869 South Slide, I bushwhacked across to the base of the smaller slide that fell during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.
Ghosts of the flower known as Pearly Everlasting.
Dried-out husks of goldenrod.
Heading up the slide, where it was chilly until I emerged in the sun.
View from my lunch spot on the ledges of the slide.
Looking across the slide to Mount Tecumseh.
From here I bushwhacked across to the remaining open patches of the mostly revegetated 1885 South Slide, aka the Second South Slide. The Kate Sleeper Trail crosses the upper open patch of this slide, 400 feet higher.
From here there was an intimate view of the remote Lost Pass region and Sandwich Dome beyond.
Bushwhacking back across the slope.
I crossed back over the jumbled rocks of the 2011 slide near its apex.
Climbing a strip of the 1869 slide that parallels the wider main part of the slide.
I revisited this solitary white pine in a sea of spruces and firs. I have recently become intrigued by the presence of scattered Eastern white pines on many slides at elevations well above their normal range (this one is at 3400 ft.) and miles from other pines in their usual habitats down below. A future blog post will discuss this in more detail.
I pushed across through some dense conifers to the top of the lower open stretch of the main swath of the 1869 slide, which is the route followed by the Mount Tripyramid Trail. Wide-screen views here at an elevation of 3450 ft.
Looking more to the west. In the distance I could see Killington Peak, Dorset Peak, Stratton Mountain and other distant summits in Vermont.
Looking across the slide to the broad spread of Mount Tecumseh.
Snow guns were firing at the top of the ski slopes. Mount Moosilauke is behind on the right.
Descending slowly and carefully on the slippery gravel and loose rock.
The views open out again at 3250 ft.
There are two more white pines here along the edge of the slide. Birds noted here included a Boreal Chickadee and a Blue Jay, as well as a Common Raven croaking overhead.
This lone gnarled aspen is still hanging on.
The trail down from the South Slide offers a generally smooth and easy descent.
Farewell to the Wilderness, until next time.