The Cirque south of Red Rock

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Sep 3, 2003
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Gorham NH
After a visit a few years back to Red Rock Pond, a visit to the larger Cirque to the south which is bordered by Guyot to the east and the West Bond spur to the south has been on the list. I was hoping the new Lidar imagery would be helpful as this area was extensively logged around 1910 and many logging roads and dugways were built to access the trees along with a rail spur. Someone mentioned recently that time could be saved accessing the ravine via a major logging road running south of the brook so that was our first objective. The attempted takeover of Franconia Brook trail between the Lincoln Brook turn off and Hellgate appears to be over for now, the beavers were industrious but looking at the lack of hardwood browse looks to what keeping the trail from being underwater so getting to Red Rock was pretty uneventful.

The entrance to the lower logging road off FBT is pretty obvious but its pretty underwhelming once headed into the woods. Its surprising that the lidar picks it up as in the woods its not very distinct beyond occasional rows of rocks to the side and cuts through high spots. The woods are initially open but plenty of hobblebush and blowdown makes things interesting and its questionable how much time is saved initially. Eventually its gets close to the brook and is a handy shelf to follow but hobblebush and blow down makes for slow going. The road eventually runs out at a drainage coming from the south. The banking gets real steep in this area so we headed up slope and eventually picked up another logging road that clears the steep section and eventually drops down to the brook were its dead ends at a washout near a split in the brook. We crossed over the brook to the north bank and picked up a herd path which I assume was the Red Rock Pond herd path. At some point the flow in the brook stopped. The channel is well defined and obviously has frequent flow but its was dry. We came to the split in the stream channel that heads to the Pond and we dropped into the stream bed and headed up to the Cirque south of Red Rock.

Hiking up the dry stream bed was interesting, its quite wide and we would catch occasional glimpses of Lincoln and the ridge near it. We got very few views up into the ravines but expect we could see the shoulder of SW Twin and very rare glimpse of the headwall near Guyot. Eventually at a discreet point there is flow in stream bed upstream but it drops down into the rocks, the stream bed also starts to get choked with trees so we headed back in the woods. The woods are quite pleasant open softwoods with easy footing. Our hope was to get to the point where we had a good view of the overall cirque but it was not to be. the main channel of the brook we were following has a couple of major drainage streams coming in from the north which I expect would lead to the two prominent slides on the NE rim of the cirque. We had set a turnaround time and as the minutes clicked off we didnt get our great view but we did get obscured views towards the large talus slopes on West Bond. We cut back to the brook and it turned out it had gone underground at that point. The woods on the other side of the brook were the exact opposite thick bony and close to impenetrable. We got to the blowdown spot and took a break. Looking out through the gaps we were at the base of the talus slope. It looks very steep and expect ascending it would be quite a challenge. I did have my GPS so I did mark a point and then we headed down. We retraced our path and eventually picked up the Red Rock herd path which transitioned to the logging road that ends up above the Camp 14 site. The road abruptly ends so we dropped down the slope to the Red Rock railroad spur and elected to follow it out. The spur is a lot more grown in than I remembered it, plenty of mud holes and blowdowns but the herd path misses the worst. As we approached the FBT we dropped down off the spur and got back on the FBT. We then made the hike out to Lincoln Woods parking lot.

A few notes on the trip. The Lidar data is handy but unless it was uploaded and overlaid on a handheld device with a solid GPS lock, I am unsure how much the logging roads and dugways would work to save time. 110 years of time has eliminated a lot of their utility as a fast way of travel. Someone encountering one in the woods at random and using them to find their way out may regret the choice. I dont think we saved much time going south of the brook via the old logging road as compared to the spur but I will leave it up to the next adventurer to decide. Heading up the brook especially when its dry is probably the way to go. Unless we missed the viewpoint Red Rock Pond ravine is far more impressive.

Over all a fun day.
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