Friday, December 19, 2008

Mt. Franklin, Mt. Washington, and Mt. Monroe from the south on the Crawford Path, 1968

This picture taken on the Crawford Path at a place I refer to as Franklin Flats, shows Mt. Franklin on the left, Mt. Washington in the center rear, and Mt. Monroe on the right. This picture, I think, represents what the higher Presidential peaks looked like immediately after the glacier had melted completely away from the mountains. In other words a lot of gravel, and an array of boulders, and other stones, some if not most of them are glacial erratics meaning they were carried here by the glacier from other places that are not far away. In addition to the erratics there is some of the 'felsenmeer', or frost-fractured rock with the sharp, less rounded edges we see a lot more of on the higher northern Presidential peaks like Adams, Madison and Jefferson. Felsenmeer has sharper edges than the erratics for the simple reason that any rocks pushed along by the glacier have more rounded to round edges. Some authors have referred to the Felsenmeer as 'Scree' which usually applies to the sharp-edged rock debris found at the base of cliffs. Soils in the higher altitude regions are fragile at best because of the weather phenomenon Andrew discussed in his paper. The plants in this zone, from 5000-6000 feet, are catagorized as 'Alpine' but they are more correctly described as 'Arctic" as they are remnants of distant arctic populations that found their way here after the glacier ablated. A few of the plants exist only in the Presidential Range and others are only found on the Presidential and Franconia ridges (e.g. above 5,000 feet) and in the arctic regions 500 miles north of Mt. Washinton. They have an interesting story to tell.

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