Thursday, March 8, 2012

Waterville Valley Rambles, March 6-7 2012

On Tuesday I felt that I wanted an easy snowshoe ramble, something more ambitious that walking up Tripoli or Hubbard Brook roads, but less work than even an easy mountain like Mount Pemi. A few days earlier I had read a post by my friend Steve Smith: Greeley Ponds Trail and Davis Boulders, noting that the southern section of the Greeley Ponds Trail had recently been reopened, though the middle section was still closed. So I drove to the Livermore Road parking at Waterville Valley with a vague intention of exploring the Greeley Ponds Trail, and maybe checking out the closed section beyond the washed out bridge, or going up the Timber Camp Trail.

I returned next day to take a few more photos from the Depot Camp clearing and from an open area off Livermore Road about a mile from the parking lot.


This is a fully interactive Google Map.  You can zoom in or out, pan, and by clicking on the parking icon you can get directions to the start of the walk.

View Larger Map

I reached the parking lot around 11 AM, and there were many cars there on a nice warm winter day (XC skiing on the groomed Livermore and Tripoli roads is free).  There was a nice view of Mount Tecumseh and its ski slopes from the parking area:

I wore snowshoes, and Livermore Road was solid enough that I could walk on the groomed skating area leaving no trace.  Approaching the Depot Camp clearing the first peak to be seen is Flume Peak:

Once the road entered the clearing there was a better view of Flume Peak, Scaur Peak and North Tripyramid:

Zooming in on North Tripyramid:

More views required tromping around the clearing; snowshoes were essential in the surprisingly deep (and soft, on this warm day) snow.  A view of the three Tripyramids:

and of Mount Osceola:

A short distance beyond the clearing the Greeley Pond Trail starts, and there was a map showing the closure:

For more detailed views of the map and text click here and here.

A short distance up the trail there is a major washout from Hurricane Irene:

Other photos of it are here and here.  A bit further there were felled trees near the trail, part of the restoration project:

Beyond the washout the Scaur Trail looked well broken out.  I followed it to the Mad River and found a solid snow bridge:

Further on the Goodrich Rock Trail looked broken out by both snowshoes and skis; the Timber Camp Trail just had the tracks of a solitary up and down skier.  I had thought of going up it, but the snow was deep and heavy; breaking trail alone would be hard work.  Just beyond that trail is the site of the washed out bridge:

The crossing was clearly doable, but I found it unappealing ... I dislike sketchy stream crossings ... so I turned around.  Reaching Livermore Road I wondered what to do; going straight back to my car would mean only about three miles of snowshoeing with virtually no elevation gain.  I therefore decided to continue up Livermore Road as far as my energy would take me.

After about half a mile I came to the Kettles Path which was as well broken out as the Scaur Trail had been.  This got me thinking; I had done the loop of the Kettles and Scaur Trails a couple of times in the past, but had never done the short but very steep climb to the outlook.  This would add roughly 1½ miles and 600 vertical feet to my day, and I felt capable of doing it.  For a description of that loop in summer see Steve Smith's post:  The Scaur Loop.

The Kettles Path starts off with a couple of short steep climbs, then meanders through open hardwoods at an easy grade.  There are few things I enjoy more than open hardwoods on a sunny winter day; the grey trunks cast black shadows on the white snow, with a blue sky above:

I soon reached the junction with the Scaur Trail, and gritted my teeth for the steep climb.  It was steep but short, and I soon reached the delightful outlook for the first time.  It was definitely worth the effort, with views of Sandwich Dome:

and Mount Tecumseh:

After lunch I descended; there were a couple of tricky spots due to the steepness; on one I felt that the safest way down was butt sliding.  From the Greeley Ponds Trail it was about a mile to my car; my GPS track showed a bit less than seven miles, with probably 600 feet of elevation gain.

Looking at the photos at home I was disappointed by several of those taken at the Depot Camp clearing, so I returned on Wednesday to take better ones (those shown are all from Wednesday).  Since the ¼ mile to the Depot Camp did not qualify as even a mico-hike I continued up Livermore Road for about a mile to an area where there is a big open bowl on one side of the road and a large clearing on the other; I was sure that there would be good photo opportunities.

The view across the clearing was less than I had hoped for; all I could get was Mount Osceola through the trees:

I did, however, get some good views from the road; North Tripyramid and its slide:

 all three Tripyramids (from a slightly different location):

and Snow's Mountain:

I then got on the rim of the bowl, from where I got good views of Mount Tecumseh:

and Mount Osceola:

While on the rim I heard voices on the road and saw two XC skiers; I was just able to snap a quick photo as they whizzed by going downhill:

After a leisurely lunch in the sun I made my way back to my car and then home.  Two very enjoyable days in the Waterville Valley area!


  1. It's terrific that you are blogging again Mohamed! I look forward to reading many more of your Blog reports which I know I'll find to be just as interesting and informative as this one.


    1. Comment much appreciated, John!!