Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bushwhacking down the east side of Mt. Bond, September 6, 2008

Mt. Bond is one of the really amazing summits in the White Mountains. Fairly high at 4698' it commands a breathtaking view of a vast area and is accompanied by two other summits close by, Bondcliff (4265') and West Bond (4540'), that are also members of the 4000-Footer Club summits and offer prize views as well. Mt. Bond is near the center of the Franconia section of the White Mountains in the Pemmigewasset Wilderness area and is difficult to get to for all of that. That's Mt. Bond in the photo above with its head in the clouds. The photo shows the east side of the mountain and was taken from Whitewall Mountain above Zealand Notch. I've skied on the east side of Bond enjoying the birch glades that extend from around 3200 feet down to the notch. However, I've never explored that side of the mountain beyond skiing it and have been interested because when J. E. Henry was logging this area in the late 1800s he had two fairly large logging camps on the east flank of Bond and many miles of logging roads cutting across it. I've long wondered if there is any evidence of either the roads now, or the camps, so I decided to bushwhack across the east face to see what I could see. I also want to try and illustrate the idea of "zones" of vegetation in the Whites. And by that I mean stratified groupings of certain plants according to altitude. An example is what is called the 'Alpine Zone' extant on the Presidential and Franconia ranges above, say, 4500-5000 feet. The Alpine Zone is fairly set and well defined but some of the zones are not hard and fast boundaries. There is a lot of variability but, still, if you observe the terrain you're hiking through you'll notice that certain plants form communities in specific areas particularly as you go up and down. They also form communities for other reasons besides the altitude, for instance, the availablity of water (near a brook or beaver pond), or on the north side (so cooler, wetter) of certain mountains, or where there's a lot of ledge (so warmer and drier) as opposed to where the soil is rich, deep and moist. So this will be a cursory look at what changes we find, if any, on a roughly 2500 foot vertical 'transect line' down Mt. Bond.

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