Wednesday, September 10, 2008

We eventually came out on the summit ledges. It was very hazy. The view, though, is exciting—a totally new perspective. The west horizon includes a view stretching from Mt. Hale in the north, to Zeacliff, the Bonds, Hitchcock in the west and on a clear day probably a good bit of the Sandwich Range to the south. To the southeast, of course, is gorgeous Mt. Carrigain, crown jewel of the Pemmigewasset Wilderness. After a difficult slog through scrubby, dense black spruce and balsam Andrew located the top of the infamous gully and decided to take that route down to the Ethan Pond trail to expedite getting back to his hut responsibilities. I considered the gully and after a fair bit of apron wringing chickened out.

Looking across the Notch to Zeacliff and Zealand Mt. it is hard to believe that 100 years ago from the top of Whitewall where we were standing to Zeacliff was lifeless, not a tree standing, just fire blackened stumps and the gleaming, calcined granite cliffs and ledges after the huge fire of May 1903. Mt. Bond and Mt. Guyot were burned over completely by the Franconia Brook-Owls Head fire of August 1907. Between the intensive, clear cut logging of 1881-1907 and the fires of that period what is now the Pemmigewasset Wilderness was completely destroyed. It's fascinating how 'nature' succeeds itself, coming up out of all those ashes, and starts over. It might be that those fires are what causes this ecosystem to be so healthy today.

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