Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mt. Whiteface & Mt. Passaconaway 7-9-11

View from Ferncroft Road
This weekend was a great weekend! The weather had been great leading right into the weekend, so it was a relief to be able to waste no time in getting up to NH after work. After all, this weekend was a family weekend at the lake, so again, Lake Winnisquam was base camp the night before our hike. This time, we were able to hang out with family across the lake. Bill and I didn't stay up all night Friday night. We got a good few hours of sleep and then we found ourselves standing at the base of a picturesque Whiteface and Passaconaway from Ferncroft Rd. at 6:00am sharp.

Immediately, I sensed something different about the area. I think its different than the more northern 4000 footers. There is something about the houses, the land, the hiker friendly signs, and just the views. What a place to be. The air was pretty thick, so it was already warm. Everything was pretty wet still, so there was a little concern about the ledges being tricky, but off we went following the signs to the Blueberry Ledge Trail. Everything was well marked, so just explore around down the road and you shall find the way.

Finally on the trail, we experienced some rocks and wet roots basically, but nothing too difficult for a while. The morning sun's rays were coming through the trees, which really made it enjoyable.

You immediately know when your approaching the south ledges of Whiteface when the path turns into slabs. The sun continued to increase and gave a nice shine as it came over the tree tops. The views started to appear just as it got much steeper. We were looking forward to these rock scrambles. There is a section of trail near the beginning of the ledge that turns right to go up, but has a ledge to the left that must be more than several hundred feet down. This section was still wet with trickling water and had our full attention.

Not necessary to risk getting any closer...
We continued up the ledges using the finger holes where they were. We found that we had to use them, and I actually had to trust my finger in the hole with risk of falling, except falling was not an option.

Me on the summit of Whiteface
After the couple really steep parts, the ledges continue, and you just want to keep on taking more and more pictures, but we said the hell with this, lets get to the summit. So we did, and we found the cairn at the summit of Mt. Whiteface and had a quick break on my 30th peak of my quest. Despite the steepness and great views that slowed us, we were making good time.

On the Rollins Trail, we quickly moved over the ridge headed to Mt. Passaconaway. Ridgeline trails are incredibly fun to hike, and this one didn't disappoint either. Sometimes along the way, the trail hugs a steep section and provides a great view of the The Bowl. The Bowl Natural Research area is an area between Whiteface and Passaconaway that has trees up to 400 years old and has no recorded history of logging or wildfires. Marked on the map, we looked it up, and knowing this made it even more enjoyable. There are not many areas like this left, no matter what region your from. Time on the Rollins doesn't go by super fast; it feels like a while before you see Passaconaway get closer. We eventually passed a junction and began the climb up Passaconaway.

The climb on this section is continuously steep until the summit. There is a view point before the summit that gave us this tremendous view.

There is a sign pointing to the summit, which is a short trail going up to a slightly higher but flatter area. There were some sticks on the ground that were clearly not natural, so we assumed it was the summit, and my 31st it would be.
Me on Mt. Passaconaway
Again, ahead of schedule, we were anxious to continue on and get back down quickly. We descended via Dicey's Mill Trail and arrived back at the car at 12:10pm, finishing the 11.9 miles and 3800 ft of elevation gain in 6 hours, 10 minutes.We started early so that we could get back down quickly. That's because there was great food and family waiting back at the camp. We were back at the lake to go for a quick tubing ride before a feast of steamers, lobsters, and mounds of other food.

Hike Stats
Trails: Blueberry Ledge Trail, Rollins Trail, Dicey's Mill Trail
Miles: 11.9
Elevation Gain: 3800 ft

To view the full album of selected photos, click on the slideshow below.

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