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17 December 2011

Perched on a Boulder

About 3 years ago, I bushwhacked to a spot known as Mud Pond.  As can be seen in the map below, this little pond is located in the Franconia Notch area. (Click on the map, if you want to enlarge it.)

On that day 3 years ago, I got a fabulous view of the Franconia Mountain Range looking across Mud Pond (photo below).

Photo Taken in March 2009

My friend Marty had never been to this spot, and so I'd hoped to share the above view with him.  The weather gurus indicated that by about noon, the overcast should lift and it would be a mostly sunny day.  Therefore, things looked promising for a possible repeat of the views that I had experienced at this spot a few years ago.
Somewhat through design, and somewhat through extenuating circumstances, we didn't actually get on the trail until nearly 10:30 AM on this 17th day of December.  We hiked up the Mt. Pemigewasset Trail to a point about 0.2 mile from the summit and then left the trail to bushwhack in a NNW direction toward Mud Pond.  This is a very easy bushwhack which took less than an hour.  The route took us through predominately open woods, such as shown in the snapshot below.

Along the way, we came across some very fresh moose prints in the snow.  It was against all odds, but we were hopeful that we might actually spot a moose at some point during our trek.  That didn't happen!  However, we did come across a moose antler that had been gnawed by mice and other critters of the forest who savor this rich source of minerals, especially calcium.

It was slightly past noon when we arrived at Mud Pond.  Surprise!  The weather forecast was a bit off.  The Franconia Mountain Range was still socked in by a heavy cloud cover.  At least the pond was visible, and there were a few patches of blue sky overhead.  The next snapshot shows the view that we had.

The air temperature for the preceding few days had not been quite cold enough to solidly freeze the marshy shoreline surrounding the pond.  As a result, we frequently broke though the thin crust of ice as we tramped around the periphery of the pond in search of different view perspectives.  We were also searching for a dry place to have lunch!
For our dining spot, we finally ended up clearing limbs and debris from the top a large boulder along the shoreline.  So there we sat, munching our sandwiches while precariously (and hilariously) perched atop a boulder which was surrounded by partially frozen water on three sides. The next snapshot is a view taken from "our boulder".

After our lunch, we lingered on our boulder for awhile hoping that the overcast might lift, as it had been predicted to do.  However, it showed no signs of lifting anytime soon, and so we retraced our footsteps in the snow back to the point where we had left the Mt. Pemigewasset Trail. 

Upon reaching the trail, we hiked the short 0.2 mile segment to the summit of Mt. Pemigewasset.  As might be predicted, the cloud cover had lifted by the time we reached this spot. The next two snapshots provide a sampling of the views from the top that we experienced.
Mt. Liberty and Mt. Flume

A Southwesterly View

After enjoying the views and snapping our photos, we descended Mt. Pemigewasset and were back at the trailhead within 5 hours of the time that we had left.   Since there were still a few minutes of daylight remaining, we strolled to the far end of the parking lot and took some snapshots of Mt Liberty and Mt. Flume as viewed over the Flume Visitor Center building (see snapshot below).

There is a signboard posted near the Visitor Center which is shown in the next photo.  The wording provides a brief summary of the geologic history of the Franconia Range and the White Mountains in general.  Reading this sign provided a reminder of how fortunate we are to hike in such a fascinating area of the country, regardless of whether the day is cloudy or bright!

To sum it up,  although the weather was uncooperative with providing the terrific view of the Franconia Range from the shoreline of Mud Pond, it was still an enjoyable 5 hours spent roaming the woods in this scenic area.   And besides, Marty and I will have a good chuckle when we reminisce about our "perched on a boulder" luncheon experience.


Summerset said...

What a nice hike - while you were looking up at the socked in Fraconia Ridge, I was up there on the ridge, with no view at all. We were in the cloud the whole way from Haystack to Lafayette, and hiked down out the cloud by the time we got to Greenleaf Hut. Your lunch perch no matter how ludicrous, was probably better than mine!

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Summerset,

I had recalled you mentioning that you’d be up on the Franconia Ridge on Saturday. And so, when we were looking up at the socked in ridge, I was hoping for your sake that you might at least be getting some nice undercast views. However, it sounds like that didn’t happen. Regardless, there were probably many pleasant aspects to your trek. As seasoned hikers like you know, the views are only one part of the overall experience.


Rita Wechter said...

Beautiful! Sometimes, not-perfect weather can provide for interesting photos—as your pictures certainly prove.
And how exciting to see those moose tracks! Another fun post, John.

OPW5000 said...

A boulder in the Whites is certainly a better lunchspot than many alternatives. Sounds like a great day out despite the lack of a view at the pond. Enjoyed the history lesson on the plaque.

Mark Truman said...

You just keep finding the greatest spots John! Loved the pictures. And there's never really no view. It's simply a matter of appreciating what you are given to look at...

1HappyHiker said...

Thank you, Summerset, Rita, Owen and Mark for your very kind comments. I'm very appreciative!