My goal was Mt. Osseo, the middle peak in the background. It’s now officially Whaleback Mt. due to the similarity between the pointed summit and the dorsal fin of a whale, or dolphin. Big Coolidge Mt. is to the left of Whaleback and Potash Knob is to the left and lower. And, while it's true I was going to bushwhack (hike off-trail), I also wanted to see if I could locate the old Mt. Osseo Trail that was abandoned in the mid-1960s (it's last mentioned in the 1960 AMC White Mountain Guide) and that, for 60 years, served as the southern leg of the Franconia Ridge Trail. The Osseo Trail came down the ridge from Mt. Flume, threaded its way over Osseo/ Whaleback Mt. and descended to the Kancamagus Highway just east of Lincoln. For the purpose of this article I am going to stick with Whaleback Mt. as it's the name found on most maps. However, I'm going to refer to the trail as the Old Osseo Trail because there is a new Osseo Trail that plunges down from Mt. Flume to the Lincoln Woods Trail a mile north of the Lincoln Woods Visitors Center.
|The morning sunlight was delicious and highlighted the rolling, uneven forest floor.|
|The other notable objects that I saw on my hike was a mind boggling array of glacial erratics the size of this one, which was small by comparison, and larger, as big as houses. Some were so large they had forests growing on top of them.|
When biodiversity was a subject we all talked about a lot there was an adage to remind people that a lot of the biodiveristy in forest ecosystems, perhaps as much as 85 percent of it, goes unseen as it' comprised of microscopic organisms that are responsible for the decomposition of the dead organic matter like this beech tree. These tiny and numerous animals represent high levels of energy available to the entire system in a number of ways. One way is to provide food source for larger animals like woodpeckers that feed on the grubs, termites, etc. Bears occasionally will tear up a felled tree, or knock a standing dead tree like the one in the photo, looking for food in the form of grubs, insect larvae, beetles, etc. Beetles represent a high percentage of the diversity in a northern forest ecosystem.
|This is looking down a stretch of the old Osseo Trail just below the summit.|
|Left to right: Signal Ridge, Mt. Carrigain, Mt. Hitchcock in foreground, North and South Hancock, Mt. Huntington, and the Moats in the background.|
|Mt. Washington on the left and the Pemigewasset Valley in the center with a shoulder of North Hancock to the right (or it's possibly Mt. Carrigain).|
|I followed the old Osseo Trail for a mile, or so, on the way back down and found it well kept.|
|It appears unused for the most part...|
|with the exception of a few small human touches....|