February 23, 2013.
The plan is to roam around the Waterville Valley area to knock off a few trails and see some of natures cool sites. Heading up to park at the Livermore Road trailhead and on the trail by 8:05.
Another unusual arrival as I am the first one in the lot for the day. The skies are overcast and the trail is firm as the groomer for the cross country skiers has been through recently, the snow shoes stay strapped to the pack for now. Quite the difference from when I was up here in October of 2011. Which has the better view?
Very quickly I arrive at the old site of Depot Camp and North Tripyramid is hidden in the clouds but Flume Peak is visible.
Shortly after crossing the Mad River bridge and Greeley Trails starts on the left. This time it is open and there signs explaining what is happening instead of closure signs. Do a (Ctrl +) to enlarge the page in order to read the notices.
Greeley Ponds Trail is much like Livermore Trail, a wide old logging road and relatively little elevation gain. About fifteen minutes later and the beginning of the hurricane damage becomes evident. I'm sure it looks worse without the snow.
Ten minutes later and I am at the Goodrich Rock Trail head. Heading up to the left and out of the ravine following another ravine for a ways. The trail turns left again heading up out of this ravine and wraps around some smaller boulders. Around the corner is a huge boulder, a glacial erratic, sitting on the right side of the trail. It is enormous about 15' high and probably as big around.
About a 100 yards or so up and I now understand the significance of Davis Boulders as described in the guidebook. I have yet to see anything like this, it begins with the following erratic that the trail goes through. For some reason there was no broken trail through it instead everyone went around to bypass the actual trail.
Being the first through the split boulder and then it's nothing but more boulders along the path. Very impressive and amazing what the ice age left behind.
It is never ending and then the mother ship of all erratics for this area.
Continuing up the trail there are more and then at the end the trails namesake, Goodrich Rock, one of the largest glacial erratics in NH. So large and nestled in the woods it is impossible to get a clear shot of the whole thing. Let's just say huge does not do it any justice.
Going around the front face and up the left side of the rock to the back of it and then on the right side a pleasant surprise.
Believe it or not that's a twenty foot ladder leading to the top of Goodrich Rock. Taking off my backpack and not sure if this is a good move as the snow is not the best, still dry and not very packed. I've come this far and what the hell might as well go up and evaluate the situation at the top. A side shot from the ladder also.
Reaching the last rung and the step from the ladder to the top of Goodrich Rock is a little disconcerting. It's a good distance away from the face and in reality should be another rung on that ladder. The rock is also pitching down where you have to make that first step off and with the snow conditions not sure how stable it is going to be.
Hanging on to the side rail I make my first step and pull myself with my arms onto the rock just in case the snow does not hold me. Once up it is a pretty cool place, would have been more cool on a sunny day but a reason to come back on another day.
A few pictures later and time to head down. Not sure how this is going to go, getting onto a ladder is always harder then getting off, at least for me. Slowly I make my way down the slight incline until I can grab the side rail and then gingerly swing my leg out and over onto the ladder. Back down with no incident and gather my pack and poles. Returning the way I came up and at the base a slab of rock lying on the ground is something I missed on the way up. The piece laying on the ground at some point broke off from the side of Goodrich Rock. Another curious thing was in the corner where that slab was stood was a metal pin. Not sure why it was there or who put it there.
Back down to Greeley Pond and on to the next destination, Timber Camp Trail. But first, just beyond that trail head is the closed section of Greeley Ponds Trail where Knight's Bridge used to stand before being wiped out by Hurricane Irene.
I had thoughts of crossing the river but after inspecting the snow bridge I felt it was a little too risky. What lied beyond is the rest of Greeley Ponds Trail up to Greeley Ponds and supposedly pretty obliterated from the hurricane, another day and time. So back to Timber Camp Trail and start the climb up out of the valley. It is basically an old logging road that leads up to an old logging camp, " High Camp".
Once reaching the site of the old camp the trail looks like it continues on and does. The only problem was no one had been up beyond this point and the snow was two to three feet deep. I went about a quarter mile up and then decided to turn back. Definitely will be returning to this area in the summer to see where it leads. Returning once again to Greeley Ponds Trail and head back the way I came passing Goodrich Rock Trail and arriving at Scaur Trail. The trail has seen some activity but not in a while. Quickly I come to Mad River and that is where the slightly packed trail ends. From here on out it is time to break trail. Looking for the best way to cross the river I slowly and gingerly make my way across testing the snow pack with my poles to make sure it is stable and thick enough. Crossing with no incidents I look pack at my lonely trail.
A couple hundred yards later and I stop to put on my snowshoes for the first time today. The rest of the trail is a painfully steep climb up out of the Mad River valley finally reaching the intersection with Kettles Path. From here on the trail is evident and packed but I just leave the shoes on for the rest of the day, too lazy to take them off and re-tie them to the pack. Up the trail to the Scaur and I guess on a better day the views would be pretty good. But today the clouds are descending into the valley and starting to spit snow. The ski area is just barely visible through the fogginess and there is nothing to really see.
Returning the way I came and this time heading down Kettles Path back to Livermore Trail. The kettles are dried bowl-shaped hollows created at the end of the last ice age. A detailed description of how they are created can be found here. Really could not get a picture of these so suffice to say that they are bowl shaped and quite large in diameter but filled with trees so not as distinctive as one might think. But still a cool geological feature here in NH. This is the only shot of it I took but again hard to make out in a photo.
Back onto Livermore Trail and one final side trail, Big Pines Path. Turning right onto it and it is a flat walk through the woods and not supposed to be too far in until it dead ends. As I keep walking I'm expecting to already be there and thinking to myself "what's the deal?" these pines are nothing too look at.
Then suddenly the trail heads down into a boggy area and there they are, three huge tall white pines left over from years gone by. A fourth sits (or is it stands?) up a side path about thirty feet away. Pictures do not do it any justice, one has to see them in person.
The only thing that would be cooler would have been to see the King's Mark on them from the colonial days. Do not know if there is one out there but still hope to see one day. Another return to Livermore Trail and back to the car to head home. But first a shot of the boulder along Avalanche Brook and a parting shot of a snowy Livermore Trail.
Another great day in Waterville Valley with some great trails and destinations. On s side note while today was not a NPD (No People Day) it was a NHD (No Hiker Day). I did see a few cross country skiers on Livermore Trail so therefore not technically a NPD!
Final numbers: 9.9 miles, 6 hours and 50 minutes.
Redline Miles: 5.0, Total to Date: 327.6