Friday, September 19, 2008

Dense small birch and spruce-fir mix on lower half of the east flank of Mt. Bond at @ 3000 feet, September 6, 2008

This was about the point where my camera quit and sent a message saying "battery exhausted", and my first thought was "Oh, poor baby", but it's actually infuriating when you're out in the woods and there are lots of things to photograph and you can't. Anyway, this was the last photo on this trip and taken at between 2900 and 2800 feet. From this location I slabbed in a southerly direction perpendicular to the fall line along the uphill edge of a forest dominated by birch that you can see opening up in this photo with the ubiquitous witch-hobble there as well. The witch-hobble, or simply hobble bush (Vibernum alnifolium) was between 6' and 7' high. This open growth extended several miles on a fairly gentle slope with a southeast aspect. There was a lot of herbaceous ground cover in this glade-like area due to the high amount of sunlight available at the ground level. I used visual sightings of Whitewall Mountain and Mts. Lowell and Carrigain to determine where I wanted to descend the final ridge and drop down to the North Fork of the Pemigewasset River about one mile below Thoreau Falls. The witch hobble made the going difficult as it is true to its name and I had little temper tantrums all the way across each time I got tripped or snagged. It didn't help that it started to rain hard as I got into the witch-hobble. This plant is rarely found above 3000 feet so it is a good indicator for altitude when hiking. Once I was on the final steep descent down to the river, from about 2600 feet to 2000 feet, the vegetation changed to dense mixed hardwoods, mostly maple including sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and mountain maple (Acer spicatum). The witch-hobble disappeared. The soil was thick because of the deciduous trees so the last mile was relatively easy. I followed the river back up to Thoreau Falls, circumnavigated those, and continued to follow the river back up to Whitewall Brook and then followed the Ethan Pond Trail back to Zealand Hut. I'm going to save what I saw along the brook for another entry. In terms of my orginial goal in bushwhacking down Mt. Bond I had found sections of what might have been the logging roads of 100 years ago but no sign of Camp 23-A which is what I had expected.

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