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19 September 2011

A Panorama from Potash Mountain, Plus a Peek from a Precipice!

Many readers will likely recall the opening lines to a song from a children's TV show called Sesame Street: "Sunny day, sweeping the clouds away . . ."!  That same theme was very much in evidence on 19-Sep-2011.  It was such a beautiful sunny day!  To take full advantage of these marvelous conditions, I did two hikes.  First, I did an on-trail trek to Potash Mountain.  Then on my way home, I bushwhacked to a precipice on the north side of Table Mountain.

To reach the trailhead for the Mt. Potash Trail on Rt. 112 (Kancamagus Highway), I drove down Rt. 302 to link up with Bear Notch Rd.  This was made possible by the excellent and expeditious job done by the NH DOT in repairing the severe damage to Rt. 302 that was caused by Hurricane Irene.

Following the hurricane, there has been only occasional light rain, and therefore the brooks are now running at normal levels for this time of year.  I mention this because crossing Downes Brook on the Mt. Potash Trail can be problematic at times of high water.  On the day of my hike, there were no issues.  Shown below is a snapshot of scenic Downes Brook, and as can be seen, the water level was quite low.

Potash Mountain only rises to an elevation of 2,700 feet, and the one-way hiking distance is only 2.2 miles.  However, this little mountain provides some remarkable panoramic views.  This hike was done too early in the season to experience the peak of autumn colors.  However, there were definite signs that the full blast of autumn coloration is fast approaching.  The next photo shows a few autumn colors scattered here and there.

The beginning stages of autumn can also be seen in the next two photos.  The first snapshot features some autumn colors in the vicinity of Mt. Passaconaway.  The second photo shows hints of coloration on the slopes leading up to the Tripyramids seen on the horizon.

I love the views of Mt. Chocorua that are present at many points en route to the top of the mountain.  The next photo shows a distant vista, plus a closer view of the bare rock summit of this iconic New Hampshire peak.

At the top of Potash Mountain there are so many impressive views that it makes it difficult to chose a single favorite.   However, one of my favorites is definitely the view of the mountains comprising the Carrigain Notch, as seen in the next photo.  Green's Cliff (prominent in the foreground of this photo) is situated such that the notch itself cannot be seen in its entirety.  But that's okay.  The rocky cliffs of Green's Cliff are also a pretty spectacular view!

Another view that ranks high among my favorites is the vista of Church Pond near the base of Mt. Tremont and Owls Cliff with the Presidential Range on the horizon (photo below).

I spent well over an hour atop Potash Mountain.  The temperature and the breeze were very mild, and the sun was brightly shining.  What else can one ask for?! 

The hike back down the mountain was leisurely and pleasant.  There was still plenty of time left in the day to do my planned bushwhack along a tributary to Louisville Brook in order to reach a rocky precipice located at about 2,200 ft.  elevation on to the north side of Table Mountain.  I had actually been there once before in early June of this year.  (Click HERE for the details of that adventure.)
My reason for wanting to do a repeat trek to this spot is that my view of some of the higher peaks was somewhat obstructed during my visit in June.  With the viewing conditions being nearly ideal on this particular day, it seemed like a great opportunity for a return visit.   Besides, it's a quick and easy journey that can be done in about 1.5 hours round-trip.
The next photo shows the view that was partially obstructed on my previous visit, but not this time!   I am happy that I went back for a second look!  This vista includes the Crawford Notch on the left side of the picture, and culminates with the Presidential Range on the right side.

The next photo shows the ledge/cliff from which the previous photo was taken.  Quite a steep drop!

And lastly, shown below is a map which provides a general idea as to the location of my bushwhack destination.

To sum it up, it is good to remember that big things can oftentimes come in small packages.   From my perspective, I had a BIG payoff, even though it was only a small hike up to Potash Mountain, and just a short bushwhack to the precipice on Table Mountain.

Oh! And if you are interested in knowing how it might be to hike to Potash Mountain in winter conditions, then click HERE to access a report contained on Steve Smith's excellent Blog.


Anonymous said...

I did this hike in early August..and was very pleasantly surprised with the your pictures show. We did Carrigan the week before and it was an awesome surprise to see its size from Potash. Some of the scrambles near the top add to this mountain being a great hike with minimal effort. Anytime one is looking for a 1/2 day hike with rewards this is the one..

1HappyHiker said...

ANONYMOUS: Regarding your comment: “Anytime one is looking for a 1/2 day hike with rewards this is the one..”, obviously, I completely agree!
I just checked my hiking log, and was shocked to discover that it had been 7 years since I last did this hike! There is every intent of not letting 7 years pass by AGAIN before I repeat this terrific hike!

Thanks for posting your comments . . . much appreciated!


Yvon said...

Thank you John,
Potash is on my list. :)

1HappyHiker said...

YVON: Yes, I feel confident that you and Annie will find that this little hike has a big reward! But, please understand that it is only a half-day hike. If your goal is to hike for the entire day, then you will need to include another half-day hike in your itinerary. Some other half-day hikes for you to consider which are located in that same vicinity would include Boulder Loop, and Table Mountain. Or perhaps you could also consider including something a bit longer such as South Moat or Carter Ledge.

Thank you for posting your comments!


Anonymous said...

Irene completely re-shaped the brook bed at the Downes. Amazing force. The water level was not to be believed. Looks like the lumber butchers will be using the parking lot as access to the landing this winter. Is there really any merchantable timber here?

JustJoe said...

Potash is a great little peak. Such rewards with minimal effort. Makes for a great winter hike.

But I'm glad you added that link to your previous bushwhack. I've been looking up at the ledges on Table Mtn. while driving the Kanc. long before I was into hiking wanting to go there. As it turns out, it's been on my radar lately. I really like that loop you did with the added bonus of that ledge. I may have to give that a go. I love bushwhacking to unique views.

Thanks for sharing,

1HappyHiker said...

ANONYMOUS: Yup! I agree, Irene was one powerful “lady”! And yes, I suspect you’re correct about the loggers using the trailhead parking lot. When I pulled in, there was only one spot available for parking. However, the only hikers I met along the way was a husband/wife team. Being mid-week, it’s difficult to imagine that all those other vehicles belonged to folks who had headed further up the Downes Brook Trail to other destinations.


1HappyHiker said...

JOE: Thanks for your comments!
Regarding the loop I did earlier in the year in June, I don’t want to come across as “patting myself on the back”, but I thought it was a nice alternative for hiking to Table Mountain. And, speaking of that “bonus ledge” on the north side of Table Mountain, please be aware that it is totally unlike the comfortable ledges on the south side of the mountain which are accessed via the Attitash Trail. The top of the “bonus ledge” is damp, and is a tangled mess of brush. There is no place to comfortably sit. However, it is a good place to take some snapshots and enjoy the terrific views, but only from a standing position! :-)

Drop me a note if you do the loop. I’d be interested in your assessment.


JustJoe said...

Thanks. I will let you know what I think John. I'm hoping sometime in October.

I've been too a similar ledge/slide on the east side of Big Coolidge. Great unique views with photo opts but not a place to sit and relax or drop your guard.

Summerset said...

Great views and photos for such a short trip! I will check the link to Steve Smith's blog - shorter trip with good rewards are ideal for winter.