Friday, July 24, 2009

7-18-09 Getting Up There From Here

This mountain doesn't really appear on any topographical maps the way it looks here, as a separate peak. From this angle it look's like a separate mountain but from other viewpoints it looks like its a ridge of North Twin Mountain. The above view is from near the junction of Routes 302 and 3 in the town of Twin Mountain, NH. I took the photo back in March and for several years I've been thinking of bushwhacking up to the peak in the center of the photo to see if it's a ridge or a mountain. It has to be at least 3500+ feet in elevation.

Adding a note on 7-27-09: I've looked at some older topographical maps and they're showing an unnamed peak in this location that's roughly 3740 feet in altitude and is kind of a mountain.The topos show a a deep defile of about 200 feet between it and North Twin. A 1998 AMC map shows only a bump on the ridge leading to the summit of North Twin (The ridge is in the background with the prominent slide). A reader, "Jon", wrote that he has detailed info about this mountain so I'll wait for his input.

This is nearly the same view as the above photo and more recent. I took it last weekend while I was trying to find a "line" for bushwhacking up to that summit. I hiked up into that logged out area you can see in the bottom of the photo on Saturday by following a series of logging roads. The cut is medium sized, about 30 acres and was easy to find as it was cut fairly recently.

I took these photos after hiking up behind the cut and doing some exploring on the mountain itself. I didn't have time to get up very far and just wanted an idea of what the north slope would be like for a direct climb to the summit. Then, looking at these photos I thought it would be interesting to hike into the amphitheater on the north slope and hike up the ledges to the ridge to the right of the summit.

This telephoto shows where a line could be followed going up either of the two ledge systems; up the center to the summit or up the right had fork to the ridge and then up. Time is the primary consideration for the final decision.

This is a portion of the logged area visible in the photo above. Finding the right logging road to get there was a chore and hiking up was a chore because it was incredibly hot in the open. Looking at a recently cut over forest is also kind of depressing because you can see where the cut itself becomes a haven for invasive species of plants like shasta daisies that wouldn't ordinarily grow there. The seeds of these plants are probably transported up the side of the mountain by the logging machinery and the trucks that carried out the logs.

Spirea is a common plant you'll see in cleared and burned over areas. It's in the rose family and like the rasberries and blackberries, also in the rose family, Spirea is devoted to lot's of sunlight and elbow room.

Sensitive fern Onoclea sensibilis) is found in the woods but more often on the edges where there's more sunlight and also in cut over areas if it's wet or swampy ground. Sensitive fern is a fast filler. It's like a white blood cell that races to the the site of an open wound, like a burned area or logged area, and fills it in as if to protect the soil from further damage.

Here is hobble bush again where it likes to be at the edge of an opening and located where it gets a lot of light for part of the day. These hobble bushes are getting new leaves.

This plant, Heal All, is also common to areas that have been disturbed, as in dug up by machinery, and play a role in stabilizing the site.

The woods on the west side of the cut look like this in late morning sun. They were open with a lot of sunlight reaching in from the open cut area and down through the canopy. The trees have an average DBH of 4 or 5 inches, realtively small, and give the appearance of a site where logging has occurred fairly recently. The only stumps I could find, though, were old and rotten.

The photos that follow are primarily of the flowering stages of some common plants at the 2000 foot elevation, a bit lower than I've been discussing. For these plants the summer is longer but there's also less sunlight. On the other hand there is lots and lots of nutrient in the soils and the soil is reasonably well drained except for occasional wet areas. This flower above is the Sharp Leaved Aster (Aster acuminatus) and very common at most elevations. It flowers in early August so the plants in these photos are on schedule.

Asters are composites, like goldenrod, dandelions, and daisies and there are six or seven asters common to the white mountains. These asters in the photos have white flowers while most of the others, including Mountain Aster, have purple flowers.

This is the Clintonia borealis again that has been introduced earlier in the blog when the yellow flower appeared in May and June. This is what the berry looks like that contains the seed. Most sources say it's NOT advisable to eat the berries and I agree. I think they're relatively harmless, certainly not poisonous, but hikers have gotten stomach aches from them after mistaking them for blueberries.

The berries of Clintonia close up are unique from the berries of other plants in the region.

Oxalis montana, or Mountain Wood Sorrel, that should be blooming soon with a small white flower. It's quite a treat to come upon a vast carpet of sorrel when it's in bloom in open wooods. One place I recall is on the Garfield Ridge Trail a mile west of Galehead Hut. It makes me feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I want to lie down in them and go to sleep!

The canopy in the woods as I bushwhacked back to my car from the cut over (logged) area looks as though it's at maximum density judging by the vegetation on the forest "floor" which is sparse. The trees here are young and healthy, even the beech, and the herbaceous plants, like the false solomon's seal and Indian cucumber, look healthy (not stressed in any noticeable way) as well.

Indian Cucumber (Mediola virginiana) is abundant in these woods. It's a lilly (family Liliacea) and has whorls of leaves in multipls of three. In can have a single whorl as the plants above or a second whorl higher on the stem like a second story. This is the plant that is named after it's tuber-like root (it's a small, white, cylinder up to two inches long that tapers like the end of a carrot). The root is edible but when you dig up a root you kill the plant. It is a protected plant in a number of eastern states in the US. It is also on the Federal plant list for protection. It is possible to propogate in home gardens.

The green berries appear in early to mid-July in the northeastern US, much earlier in southern parts of its range which extends from northern Quebec to the US Gulf Coast. The seeds are not edible. Do Not eat them. The plant in this photo has two seeds protruding form the top. There may be one berry or as many as five or six. Indian Cucumber is a perenial.

False Solomon's seal (Smilacina racemosa) is also common in these woods and is also producing seeds at this time of year (early-mid July). This plant is called "false solomon's seal" because it resembles Star-flower Solomon's Seal (Smilacina stellata).

The berries of both plants are first green and then turn red like these. They are not edible.

New York fern (Thelypteris novaboracensis) was well represented on this particular site.

There were myriad beech (Fagus grandifolia) seedlings poking through the leaf carpet.

As well as sugar maple seedlings (Acer saccharum) that were tiny but well on their way, perhaps, to observe 300 birthdays or more.

Bushwhacking down off the mountain was easy and fast through these open woods. You can see both the patchwork of sunlight and ground cover. The amount of shade varied. This section of woods had dense shade and patches of sun.

This section had more sun and thus the lower story was denser and there are more plants on the ground. This was the area where there were a lot of Indian Cucumber which like partial shade.

There were no signs that this area had been logged in the last 50 years, not stumps, except a few like the one above which date back, maybe, 60-70 years. It is interesting that the moss is taking advantage of the higher level of nutrient available in the stump.

This is the wealth of the forest. It is energy from sunlight being stored and recycled. These leaves will become soil in a few years and add their nutrients to the other layers of soil which, in turn, will be taken up by plants and trees in an endless cycle which seems to be bent in producing soil, and oxygen, and breaking down material into more basic, soluble, ions (anions and cations) on which life depends (yes, humans, too). One might describe a tree as a solar operated pump. Some of the roots go deep and bring up nutrients and water from well below the top soil horizons, while other roots form a dense web close to the surface to "mine" nutrients and water there as well. (I once measured the deepest roots put down by a watermelon and found some that went 32 feet below the surface. The water those roots were tapping was artesian!)

Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora) was everywhere last Saturday. I had to be careful where I put my feet (which I usually am, anyway). It's a parasitic plant that, like some mushroom, helps break down organic matter into finer and finer particulate matter (Particulate Organic Matter=POM), and eventually into those microscopic ions that are taken up by the tree roots with help from micro-organisms, enzymes and electrolytes in a fairly complex, continuous process.


Jon said...

If I'm reading this right, that mountain is a bit more famous (and more travelled) than you let on in your post. Let me know if you're interested in routes; otherwise I'll just let you explore.

Jason said...

Alex, I've enjoyed reading your blog immensely! The mountain, I believe, is often called Peak above the Nubble, and is on the New England Hundred Highest list.

Alex MacPhail said...

Jason, Thanks for the info. The "Nubble" is called Haystack and there's a trail up it. I've always wanted to climb it but never have. In reality "The Peak Above the Nubble" probably isn't a peak as the col between it and the massif of North Twin is only about 200 feet down. With a dip of 400 feet it would qualify as a separate mountain. It's 500' higher than Kearsarge North which it kind of resembles (and Kearsarge is a beautiful mountain). Glad you like the blog. I really enjoy putting it together. Thanks again, Alex

Alex MacPhail said...

Hey Jon, if you have time and want to write up any info you have. I've been looking at old Topos and the peak we're talking about takes on a little more character. I'm planning on hiking it in the next two weekends and doing a circuit: up the north side and down the east side back to the Little River Road. Use the blog or my email address to send info. Thanks, Alex

thomas peter said...

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