|Early July 4th morning I was wandering around the Forrest Ridge condominium complex near Lincoln, NH, looking for a relatively easy route for bushwhacking up to Franconia Ridge from Lincoln. I had tried variations back in the fall from another starting point without any luck but came out of it a little wiser. The route I was going to try on Thursday was to circle upwards around Big Coolidge Mt. staying in hardwood forest as much as possible and avoiding the dense coniferous growth of spruce and fir near the treeline.|
On Thursday my y primary purpose was to find a small "opening", a small place to push through that dense coniferous growth so I can scoot over the ridge and slip down effortlessly into the Pemi on the east side of Mt. Flume. After an hour of searching I found a likely lead consisting of an grown-over path heading uphill and into the woods (first photo). Mt. Coolidge was heavily logged about 120 years ago and I expected to find some of the dugway roads loggers used to bring the logs to the mills and use them as a resource. The one in the photo above was close to the Condominium parking lot running east and west. There were foot prints and tire tracks in a muddy sections indicating it's being used recreationally by folks at the condos.
Higher up the mountain flank I found more remnants of older logging roads that probably dated back to the 1890s. Records indicate that both Little and Big Coolidge Mts. along with Whaleback (Osseo) and Potash Knob were all logged off in 1893-1894 by J. E. Henry and Sons of Lincoln, NH (from Bill Gove excellent book, J. E Henry's Logging Railroads, published by Bondcliff Books in 1998). In some cases, as on the Hancocks, the dugway roads circled the mountains. Dugway logging roads were the most expedient system for moving logs downhill. Crews simply dug into the mountain pulling the soil away from the uphill side across to the downhill side until a wide enough, level roadway existed which eventually got packed down from use. The track in the second photo above is a good example.
|Hey, I was here first!|
|Downhill roots of an ash tree that measured 95 inches in circumference, or 2 feet 8 inches. The downhill roots are more thicker and longer on the older, larger tree as a necessary means to steady the tree against the inevitability of gravity.|
|Further to the west and away from the cliff the terrain and forest looked like this and was easy to navigate through.|
|Edging around the side of the cliff.....|
|.....and topping out. Finding the cliff was an interesting start to my explorations for the day and created some unexpected excitement for me.|
|At the top of the cliff there was an open forest, mostly of small balsams, and a great deal of moss on top of the rock cap. The space created by the trees, moss and sunlight was breath taking.|
|Working my way up out of the notch towards the upper ridge.|
|This is what takes the wind out of your sails. I carried and briefly used a bike helmet and the kind of knee pads used by roller derby competitors to make crashing through this forest web a little more feasible.|
|At any rate I had reached my turn-around time and was ready to head back down after a casual lunch which was when I consumed one of the water bottles and the water came pouring out of the pores in my skin as if I was a sieve.|