Sunday, March 31, 2013

3-30-13 Ammonoosuc Ravine, Mt. Washington (aborted)

After my customary early morning, three and a half-hour drive between home and the mountains, I turned onto the Cog Railway Base Station Road heading up to the base of the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail (the Ammy). I was going to run up to Lakes of the Clouds, chop a hole in the ice, measure the ice's thickness, measure the temperature of the lake at one foot-intervales, run back down, run up to Lonesome Lake and repeat the same steps there. As I approached the range Saturday morning it was well hidden behind brooding clouds that were dissipating the closer I got to the base station.
Mt. Jefferson early Saturday (3-30-13) morning shortly after the clouds cleared away.
Up the hill just below the base station the clouds are moving rapidly off, rising on thermals provided by warmth from the sun's first rays. It was still quite cold on the west side of the mountain.
Marshfield and the base station restaurant and souvenir shop. The summit of Mt. Washington is to the right and in the clear. There's obviously no shortage of snow.
Looking west to the Twins.
There were groups of hikers preparing to set off; not as many as I expected.  Fresh snow had fallen during the week and conditions were perfect for hiking. There were only a few skiers about. I did up my pack, drank some fluid and went to change into my mid-weight Salomon boots only to discover that I'd left them in the kitchen at home! It's the first time I've done that as I usually pack up the evening before a hike and double check to make sure I have footgear. At it was the Salomons would not have been enough. Conditions required mountaineering boots and I wasn't planning on bringing my Sportivas anyway. It was a laughable moment. I most regretted having to abandon a hike up the Ammy, my first for 2013. I even put snowshoes on and tightened my gaitors to see if I could make headway with just my lightweight hiking shoes but in only a quarter mile my feet became wet and cold, too cold to go up to the ridge safely. I was out of luck, but made good use of the time spent and distance traveled by ensconcing myself once again in the library at the Highland Center (HC) for nearly six very productive hours.
The HC's library is the best thing about the center and is a comfortable place to spend time and it houses almost a complete set of Appalachia. I surfed all the volumes from 1907 to 1934 on Saturday looking primarily for information on trail planning and building of which there is a huge amount in the span of those years. Its problematic in that almost all the articles are compelling and cry out to be read thoroughly so that the remarkable history they contain can be given a new audience. I was particularly looking for pieces written by Robert Underhill, "Slim" (Stuart) Harris, Nat Goodrich and Paul Jenks and found plenty of material written by each of them about trails and plants.
As I headed home around 2 pm on Saturday this is what the range looked like. Kind of makes you want to be up there, doesn't it? That's the Bretton Woods Resort to the left in the background.

At some point I'll share more of the gems I found in the old Appalachia, but here's a small sample. The above photo is from the December 1929 Appalachia and is of Mt. Lincoln from the Old Bridle Path. It's a valuable document because you can see the extent of the logging up Walker Brook.

This is a photo from 1916 looking across Lonesome Lake at the cabins and boat house that were built there in the late 1800s as a fishing and hunting camp. It was leased by the AMC in the early 1930s to become the first Lonesome Lake Hut. Look at the slide tracks on Agony Ridge that slant down into Franconia Notch. (from Appalachia).
A wonderful photo taken in 1932 by Robert Monahan of Lakes of the Clouds hut and Mt. Monroe that I also copied from Appalachia.
A photo from the 1929 Appalachia that's similar to one from my last blog entry on 3-17-13 that was in color but showed the same layered cloud formation, an altocumulus lenticular, stretching out over the northern peaks. Jefferson's Knee is also similar in my photo.

This sketch was also found in the 1929 Appalachia accompanying a great story by Robert Underhill about an extensive trip he took in the Pemigewasset Wilderness that year with two friends. The piece contains several other sketches by artist Arthur Shurtleff.

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