Saturday, October 25, 2014

Waterville Whatnot 10/18/14

Working title: I'll never learn

After being beaten on by the weather the last couple of weeks, mainly the rain, I figured the important gear was dry (or dry enough) to get out. The problem being, I didn't check the forecast going into the day... I merely recalled seeing that Saturday was supposed to be nicer, and that was on Tuesday. Mistakes were made. I guess the old saying rings true, "when it rains, it pours". Since my usual camera lens of choice was sitting in rice, I pressed an old favorite into service, a 35mm Leica Summaron. I hope you enjoy what it was able to capture.

Hike #1: Short paths around Waterville Valley

Peak: The Scaur (2230')

Trails: Cascade Path, Elephant Rock Trail, Greeley Ledge Trail, Cascade Path West, Norway Rapids Trail, Livermore Road, Kettles Path, Scaur Trail, new trail section, Big Pines Path, Boulder Path

Mileage/time: ~10.1, ~2200' of gain, book time of 6:10, actual time of 4:22

New redlining miles: 5.1

A cursory glance at the redlining spreadsheet reveals holes, and the trail system in Waterville Valley is one. My original plan called for a bigger day, though not only the weather, but some human factors caused me to shorten it significantly. Once I found the parking lot for Cascade Path, I started up through a condo complex, before ducking into the woods on a cross country ski trail. It was a comfortable temperature, and made for a quick pace. Climbing easily with crunchy leaves underfoot, I reached one of many side trips, up Elephant Rock Trail to Greeley Ledges Trail... leave no stragglers. I never did find the eponymous rock, and did find the Greeley Ledges to be massively grown in. Good thing there's a view from the top of the Snow's Mountain ski lift!

Cascade Path, no cascades yet...

Elephant Rock Trail

Leafy staircase on Greeley Ledge Trail


Tecumseh and Waterville Valley from Snow's Mountain ski lift

Dropping back down to Cascade Path, I kept on keeping on, as it hadn't rained yet and the sun even made a brief appearance. Hitting Norway Rapids Trail, I continued straight on the west end of Cascade Path, and finally some cascades! Collectively this set of falls is referred to as the Waterville Cascades, or more commonly as just The Cascades. None have individual names, but as a whole they were a sight to behold in good flow.

Not a rolling stone

Cascade Path

Dappled color

The end of Cascade Path intersects the cross country ski trail network, so I returned the way I came, crossing Cascade Brook on a wide bridge. Easy hiking got me to the crossing of Avalanche Brook at Norway Rapids. I worked out onto the slick ledge at the crossing, and inched along as ankle deep water rushed by me. Not a dry crossing on this day! On familiar ground now, I rolled down Livermore Road/Trail until I hit the Kettles Path, which is where things turned.

Norway Rapids Trail

Some of the Norway Rapids

Livermore Road, now with more leafy goodness

Up Kettles Path, I had my first real dose of decent elevation gain, it also started to rain. I never did find the Kettles, so I'll have to come back and explore here. To the junction of Scaur Trail, I received a surprise. The lower 0.4 miles of Scaur Trail has been closed due to erosion and a dangerous water crossing, and there has been work on a new trail connecting to the Flume on the other side of the Scaur. This isn't information I had while on the hike, so what I did was climb up to the Scaur itself, then continued along the new trail to the point where it started to drop steeply, where I found a pile of gear and rock bars under a tarp on the trail. The new trail should be nice when it's all finished, but was soft and muddy in the rain. Not quite sure what it's going to be named either!

Kettles Path

Moody view from The Scaur

More moodiness from The Scaur

The signage is a lie!

Back down Kettles Path in the rain, the leaves slick. Keeping on the downward trend I checked out Big Pines Path, which sports three big pine trees at the end! Scrapping further efforts in the area thanks to the rain, I turned up Boulder Path, waded across Cascade Brook in fast knee deep water, and got out to my car in short order. Of course once I got close, the rain stopped. All class mother nature, all class.

Big Pines indeed


Giant boulder in Cascade Brook

Drama upon returning to my car

Hike #2: Fletcher's Cascade

Peak: None

Trails: Drakes Brook Trail, Fletcher's Cascade Trail

Mileage/time: 3.2 miles, 1006' of gain, book time of 2:07, actual time of 1:21

New redlining miles: 1.2

Sitting in the car, I consulted my technology which showed more rain moving in. Thinking I might be able to beat it, and snag another section of trail, so I took off for the Sandwich Mountain trailhead. I was half-right. A lot of jogging and fast hiking got me to Fletcher's Cascade in short order, but upon taking a few steps down the trail, a downpour ensued, continuing all the way to the car. The trail itself was beautiful, with some great stone steps, and even dipped into the Sandwich Range Wilderness... making me hungry. Fletcher's Cascade was fantastic, with three distinct drops, enhanced by the rain.

Fletcher's Cascade Trail

Great steps

Lower cascade

Middle cascade

Upper cascade

Beer was in order, so once back at the car, I pointed it to Mad River Tavern, and got some well deserved deliciousness... and food. On the ride home, the skies continued moody, but rays of sunlight broke through as I headed east on the Kanc. A fitting end to another in a series of fickle days in the mountains.

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