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28 March 2012

Claw Marks and Partridgeberry: A Hike to Mt. Mist and Webster Slide Mtn.

Perhaps the title of this report is attention-getting, but it might be inaccurate!  As much as I enjoy hiking, I'm far from being an expert woodsman.  While hiking on 27-March to Mt. Mist and Webster Slide Mountain, I spotted markings which I interpret as claw marks from a bear who perhaps used the tree as a scratching post.  However, I'm fully prepared for a reader of this Blog to tell me that those marks resulted from some other source, such as moose or deer antlers.

I also saw a small patch of what I think is known as Partridgeberry.  If that happens to be correct, then I suppose this is a holdover from last season's "crop".  Perhaps this small patch just recently lost its snow cover, and that is why it has as yet to be discovered by the local residents of the forest who would enjoy snacking on them!

Okay, with that bit of trivia out of the way, let's move right along with the rest of my report!  I've been to Webster Slide Mountain, Mt. Mist, and Wachipauka Pond via the route that comes up from the south near Glencliff, NH.  One might think that I've hiked darn near every trail in White Mountain region.  But nope, there are still many trails that I have yet to hike!  In fact, a portion of this particular trek involved a segment of trail that was new for me.

The largest portion of this 6.6 mile (round-trip) hike was on the Appalachian Trail (AT).  However, the 0.7 mile trek to Webster Slide Mountain is done via a spur path off the AT corridor.  Shown below is a map which highlights the route that I followed. (Click on the map to enlarge it.)

While driving to the trailhead, I pulled over to the public shoreline of Lake Tarleton to take a few snapshots.  One of my destinations (Webster Slide Mountain) is seen in the next photo.  Also noteworthy in this photo is the snow-capped Mt. Moosilauke on the distant horizon.

It was windy and cold along the shoreline of Lake Tarleton.  You might have noticed the whitecaps in the photo above.  These chilly conditions resulted in some interesting ice formations where the water met the shoreline (next photo).

Following the short stopover at Lake Tarleton, I drove the remaining short distance to the trailhead and began my hike along the AT.

It won't be long before this hiking corridor has springtime wildflowers in bloom.  Green shoots were beginning to emerge.  However, the only things that I saw that exhibited any color were the red Partridgeberry that I talked about earlier, plus the golden tassel of what I think is Bristly Clubmoss.  Both of these are shown in the next photo.  (Again, please feel free to post a comment and correct me if my identification of these plants is incorrect!)

Within about 45 minutes of leaving the trailhead, I arrived at the wooded summit of Mt. Mist.  Other than the surrounding forest and the sign shown in the next photo, there's nothing really to see.  This mountain was named for the mist that occasionally sweeps upward from nearby Lake Tarleton toward the summit of this mountain.

As you descend the north side of Mt. Mist, there are things to see!  There is a well-trodden side trail which leads to an overlook of Wachipauka Pond (Abenaki Indian name for "mountain pond").  This viewpoint used to have a rather unique sign which unfortunately is no longer there.  No one seems to know what happened to it.  Here is a photo of this sign taken a few years ago when it was still in place.

If you venture just a bit beyond the pathway that leads to this overlook, you can get a perspective that includes both the pond and Mt. Moosilauke, as seen in the snapshot below.

There is also another outlook on the north side of Mt. Mist, however it involves a short bushwhack.  There are some unique views available from there.  However, on this particular day there was just enough ice near the edge of the precipice to make me uncomfortable with working my way to the prime viewing spot.  The photo below was the best I could get.  Webster Slide Mountain is seen at the left of the snapshot.

The ascent to Webster Slide Mountain is moderately steep in spots, but the summit can be reached in about 30 minutes, or less.   There are viewpoints from two different ledges atop this mountain.  The main viewpoint provides a vista looking down at Wachipauka Pond and the surrounding area (next photo).

The other viewpoint is known as the "Southwest View".  One of the vistas from here is shown below.  Mt. Cube is in the distance and on the right is Lake Armington, along with a portion of Lake Tarleton.

Earlier I mentioned a unique trailside sign that has disappeared.  There is another sign that is still present which marks a spot with a rather unique name, i.e. Hairy Root Spring.  This sign is seen in the next photo.  As I understand it, this name was bestowed in the 1970s by a member of the Dartmouth Outing Club because the spring emerges from the ground beneath the hairy roots of an old maple tree! (You will need to click on the photo to read the wording on the sign.)

To sum it up,  this hike along a segment of the Appalachian Trail had a little bit of everything, including some fine vistas, plus animal scratch marks on a tree, as well as a visit to Hairy Root Spring! :)


Anonymous said...

Nice photos. The marks on the tree look to me like moose tooth-scraping marks from eating bark.


1HappyHiker said...

Aha! That’s a possibility that I’d not considered!

Thanks Elizabeth for posting your comments!


Jim said...

Got to agree with Elizabeth. See that a lot in Groton State Park.
Great pictures again John. Will have to try that hike from that end.
Came in from Rt. 25,but never off 25c.

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks Jim . . . much appreciated!
So far it seems that the majority opinion is that those marks on the tree are the result of moose teeth versus bear claws!


Steve Smith said...

Fine report and photos as always, John! Those are two nice little peaks - very pleasant woods walking and as you noted there are some unusual off-trail views to be found on Mist. Did you go to the lower ledge at the Southwest Outlook on Webster Slide? A bit tricky to get down to, but quite a spot. Love the whitecaps on Lake Tarleton.


1HappyHiker said...

Thanks Steve!

Yes, I did indeed go to the lower ledge at the Southwest Outlook. What a pleasant spot! Unlike other spots I’d visited earlier in the day, that ledge was wind-free, and overall warm and cuddly! I truly wish I’d had more time to spend there. However, I got my traditional late start, and by the time I arrived at this lovely spot, there was not a lot of time to linger.

As noted in my report, this was my first time to approach Mt. Mist and Webster Slide Mtn via the Rt. 25C trailhead. Personally, I much prefer this approach versus the way I’ve done it in the past from the Glencliff area.


Summerset said...

Very entertaining report. Those signs look like DOC signs with their bright orange paint, and they seem to have quite a sense of humor!

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks Summerset! For certain the DOC signage is unique and entertaining. I’ve occasionally come across trip journals written by AT hikers, and have seen mention made of the DOC signs. I suppose they offer a welcome departure from the run-of-the-mill, humdrum signs that are encountered along most of the AT corridor.


NeoAkela said...

Great report John. I always get a chuckle from those orange signs. Looks like it was a fine day to be "down south" a bit!

I noticed your beveled frames - I like the look!

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks Chris!

Those orange DOC trails signs are indeed riot! They are a refreshing change from a world where so much is “standardized”.

Hey! Thanks for noticing the beveled frames in a few of the photos that I posted in this report. Much can be learned from studying images posted by skilled photographers such as you!


Anonymous said...

The marks on the tree could also be from bear teeth. When they come out of hibernation they sometimes scrape at the cambium w/ their lower incisors.

1HappyHiker said...

Thank you so much for posting your comment!

As I indicated in my report, I’m not an expert woodsman, and so I’m very appreciative of input from folks about things such as the marks on a tree, plant identification, etc. I think the overall hiking experience is enhanced by incidental sightings of things such as this. It’s not all about the sweeping vistas of distant mountains! :)

Thanks again!

One Day in America said...

Hi John,

I've seen bear claw marks on trees that are quite a bit deeper and narrower—like someone slashed at the tree trunk with a handful of nails. So it's possible that the marks you photographed were indeed made with teeth, either by a moose or a bear as a few of your readers indicated. Any wildlife biologists out there?
Nice post, as usual. I enjoy your "big picture" photos of lakes and mountains, as well as your "small treasures" photos such as ice formations and plants.
And I'm glad that you haven't hiked every trail in the region as I look forward to reading about future hikes!

1HappyHiker said...

Hey Rita . . . thanks for your comments! I always look forward to your perspective on my postings!