View Full Version : Overnight on Baldface Knob 5/29-30/10

KD Talbot
06-01-2010, 08:06 PM
Along the Slippery Brook Road

Baldface Knob 2900'+/- /South Baldface 3570'/ Eastman Mountain 2939'

Slippery Brook Road/Trail from Mountain Pond/Baldface Knob Trail/Baldface Circle Trail/Eastman Mountain Trail

13.6 Miles 2500' Elevation gain

Kevin, Judy and Emma, W7xman (http://www.jimsalge.com/)

This is a story about a friendship I probably wouldn't have if it weren't for a mutual love of the mountains, wildflowers, nature and photography among many other various and sundry things . I met Jim about 6 years ago on a Bombardier snow tractor climbing the Mount Washington Auto Road with its cargo of Observatory Members and shift workers on their way to the summit , some to spend the night, others to work their shift. We started out at the base in freezing rain, the summit was invisible in the clouds. As we rose to the 4 mile marker we drove out of the clouds and into brilght sunshine. The surrounding mountains of the Northern Presidentials reflected their white finery in a brilliant display. Arched over the Great Gulf was a white rainbow, a fogbow, as the sun cut the fog. You couldn't wipe the smile off anyone's face in that tractor.

On South Baldface at dusk

I spent the first night of several on the summit of Mount Washington, Jim spent most of the next 4 years there as an intern first, then an observer. We built a friendship as I performed volunteer duties of cooking and cleaning for the summit crew on weeklong shifts. When he left, he became a science teacher in my hometown of Kingston. Since then we have spent quite a few hours searching out wildflowers and nature scenery, always striving for the perfect light, shooting almost always at dawn or dusk. It was high time we made a backpack trip to one of my wife and my favorite places, the Baldfaces, in search of all of these things in one place. One objective of the trip was to shoot Rhodora at sunset and again, if possible, at sunrise.

Rhodora Rhododendron canadense

We have had poor luck on occasion with lighting, but we generally have good luck finding our quarry in the way of wildflowers, but on this trip both the desired lighting and the target wildflower were elusive. But the way to be successful at all things is: if you don't find what you're looking for, take what you find and make it work. This is why I respect Jim, he can do this. While I take my average photos home and fiddle with them in Lightroom, Jim works hard with what he's got and gets it right in the camera. Very little post-production. This is why I look up to him as a photographer and friend. He challenges me and makes me better by doing so. I need this. We all need this.

Mora Rhodora

We packed in along the Slippery Brook Road and then the Slippery Brook Trail covering new ground on the way to an old familiar place. The elevation gain to the col between Eastman Mountain and Baldface Knob was almost imperceptible on this route. The orad and trail sections were overgrown with wildflowers. Lady's Slippers numbered in the thousands cast in every shade of pink and white. Bunchberry, Starflower, Clintonia, Goldthread, all were in bloom. On the ledges Rhodora was present, but most had passed already and much, much more had not blossomed at all. This might have disappointed if we hadn't been in such a magical place as is offered by South Baldface and its nearby southern neighbors.

At daybreak

After setting up camp we had a quick supper on the summit of Baldface Knob while the blackflies made supper of us. After cleaning up and hanging the bear-bag we grabbed our gear and headed to the summit of South Baldface. Here we found some of the sought after Rhodora, but little in the way of dramatic sunset light, in fact none at all. There were however nice dark clouds to work with, so we did our best to adjust and shot away at what we had. We left the summit while there was still enough light to forego using the headlamps and we buttoned down for the night. The wind picked up and there was a very, very light rain that left no trace by morning.

Looking east at dawn

Although the wind had dropped off a bit overnight it ramped up again towards dawn. We crawled out of our sleeping bags in the half light before sunrise and stumbled with our gear through the wind to the place I call "The Plateau" at the junction of the Baldknob Trail and the Baldface Circle Trail, one of our favorite places in the mountains. The smell of woodsmoke was thick in the air from what we later found out were wildfires in Quebec. The dark clouds offered interesting skies as we were buffeted around a bit by the wind. We waited for sunrise, but it was hidden by the clouds and offered almost no color as it rose above the horizon in a spot we could not see. Again, we adjusted and tried to make good of what we had, and again, the magic of the place made up for the lack of obtaining what we sought.

Evans Notch has filled with smoke from Quebec

We returned to camp and had breakfast and tea before breaking down and packing. On the retreat from Baldface Knob we dropped the packs at the junction in the col and Judy, Emma and I took the Eastman Mountain Trail to its summit while Jim shot more wildflowers. Again we covered new ground visiting one of the last on our list of places to visit in "Kevin's Notch". In the birch glades along this trail we saw what had made the bleating trumpet sounds we had heard early the night before. A family of deer quickly disappeared into the brush, white tails flicking through the leaves. Emma charged ahead along the trail to make sure no stragglers challenged our way.

On the Slippery Brook Trail

From the summit of Eastman we looked in amazement at the increasing smog that obscured visibility in every direction reducing the surrounding hills to hazy shadows of themselves. We made our way back down beside the Slippery Brook and stopped often to shoot wildflowers and swat mosquitos and blackflies while we reflected upon what we had been given and what we had done with it. Nothing in life ever goes exactly as planned and the ability to adjust is as important as any lesson there is to be learned. We did what we could with that knowledge and remembered that another attempt would certainly yield different results. Important stuff to use as we try to get by.

Full set of pics here (http://ghostflowers.smugmug.com/White-Mountain-Hikes/Baldface-Knob-529-3010/12378636_PMsxA#884882659_ezVfZ):


Snow Miser
06-02-2010, 07:52 AM
Nice TR Kevin. Your photos do indeed show that you took what you were given and made them work. Thanks for sharing.

06-02-2010, 08:58 PM
Awesome trail report. The picture of the butterfly on the Lily is incredible. I love the white Lady Slippers too. I've never had the pleasure of seeing those before. Thanks for sharing.

KD Talbot
06-04-2010, 01:52 PM
Thanks for the positive feedback. If you haven't already, you can check out Jim's shots here (http://www.jimsalge.com/Blog/):

Scroll down to the May 31st entry in his Blog. Tremendous work, and a great blog as well.


Anna LeBlanc
06-04-2010, 03:02 PM
Thanks Kevin for a wonderful TR and you know the photos of Emma always put a big smile on my face.:D



06-04-2010, 04:42 PM
looks like a very nice trip thanks for showing us