Click on pictures to enlarge.
Bretton Woods had received a dusting of snow a few days before and was expected to receive a one-foot dump that night. Roger Gagne headed for a hike up Cherry Mountain before the weather set in. We spotted a car at one end of the Cherry Mountain Trail on Cherry Mountain Pass, and started from the other trailhead in Twin Mountain. We climbed up Mt. Martha (3,400') and were pleased to see that the views at the top had improved since our last visit. Some chainsawing was evident. The top of Mt. Martha now boasts a classic view of the Presidential Range and Roger and I had to get our portraits taken with it (left and right). No joint portrait because there was no one to take it - in fact we saw no one all day.
A patchwork of mini-trails on top of Mt. Martha leads to different outlooks. The view to the south (left) offered a mountain panorama stretching from the Willey Range in the east to Cannon in the west, with the Bretton Woods and Cannon ski areas covered with snow. The view of Bretton Woods (zoomed at right) provides an unusual perspective from the west, different from the standard view available from the Presidentials.
From Mt. Martha we took the Martha's Mile Trail following the ridge to Owl's Head, the other peak of Cherry Mountain. The birch trees were completely bare but the ash trees had clusters of red berries (left). The spruce/fir trees were covered with Spanish moss - the ridge is fully exposed to the westerly winds and obviously gets a lot of moisture. Martha's Mile is overzealously blazed, every 50 ft or so (right) so getting lost is not an option - quite a contrast with most trails in the White Mountains where there is no blazing to preserve the "wilderness experience". Getting lost is apparently part of the experience.
After a final steep climb made tricky by ice we arrived at the top of Owl's Head, which has excellent views from several broad ledges. At left is a view looking back to Mt. Martha, and at right is a view north towards Jefferson and the North Country. There are also the same views of the Presidentials as from Mt. Martha.
We traced back our steps to return to Mt. Martha and from there took the Cherry Mountain Trail for the long walk (3.8 mi.) down to Cherry Mountain Pass. I had never done that trail so was interested to check it out. It is more of a snowmobile trail than a hiking trail (left) and obviously receives very little use during the summer - lots of overgrowth in places. Roger had done it before and recalled it as very muddy; we verified that experience as soon as we got down far enough for the ground to thaw. Overall this trail is really not very interesting but it's one more checkmark in my hiking log. At Cherry Mountain Pass is a pond with a view of trailless Mt. Deception (3,700') to the east (right). I had read on the web about someone who had bushwhacked Mt. Deception starting from the pond, and we explored the surroundings for any indication of a herd path. We could see none.
That night we did get a foot of snow in Bretton Woods and the following day I hiked up the mountain with my snowboard (left). Mt. Martha was now in the clouds (right). This is the earliest in the season that I've ever snowboarded at Bretton Woods! Unless we get a warm spell this may be it for the hiking season, but I look forward to a great snowboarding season featuring the Adventures of the Snowboarding Professor.