Whiteface and Passaconaway 5/19/12
Whiteface and Passaconaway
With a beautiful day on the horizon, we headed north to battle the ledges on Whiteface. Passaconaway was just there, so we figured we might as well do them both. Apparently we like long drawn out hikes lately!
We passed through beautiful Holderness, around Squam lake, and into Sandwich. If anyone is looking for a summer home or a new place to live, every other house up there is for sale! Such a pretty area, although a little bit off the beaten path.
We hit the Ferncroft Parking lot and headed for the trail around 8:30. It?s a very pretty trailhead, with both mountains looking down on us above a big old farm house and lots of fields. It was a great day and already nice and warm, so there was no layering off or on throughout the day! We headed up the road, past some houses, envying those that lived there.
We headed up the Blueberry Ledge Trail. Nice trail, nothing too technical or difficult on the bottom reaches. We hit a section of rock stairs, then another, and another. Each one was anywhere from 20-40 steps long, and fairly steep. I can?t imagine how long it took to put all these in place, but was glad they were there! We stopped at many ledges with views into the Lakes region, and enjoyed the view. The ledges were calling, and since Melissa wasn?t looking forward to them and couldn?t enjoy her day till we were past them, we continued on.
We finally met up with the 1st infamous ledge. The one you see pictures of in the trip reports, the one that can be tricky at times. Lucky for us we had a nice dry day, and we made it up over this one with no real issues. Melissa didn?t love it, but did a great job with it. I was having a blast, I thought all the ledges through this top section were fun! I felt like a kid, scrambling around and pulling myself up over things.
The ledges and scrambles went on for longer than we expected, which I was fine with. Melissa just wanted them to be done! We finally hit a great open ledge area which we assumed was the summit. It?s the one with the geological marker and the plaque. We stopped here for a while, had lunch, and enjoyed the views, the sun, and the light breeze blowing through. We took summit pictures and even convinced other hikers that it was the summit (sorry!). The map said otherwise, but who believes those things anyway??
We finally packed up and headed over to Passaconaway. All the signs pointed to Passaconaway, none convinced us that the real summit was over that way too. We did find the real summit soon enough, and felt a little bad that we mislead others (unknowingly of course). The ledges were way nicer anyway and should be the summit!
We continued on over to Passaconaway. Now, since these summits are only a few feet of elevation difference, we couldn?t understand how we kept going down. The further we decended, we knew we would have to climb back up eventually. At least one would think anyway. This is not your typical ridge walk that a nice meandering jaunt through the woods. It drops for quite a while and doesn?t seem to stop doing so. We kept waiting for the climb that never really came.
We reached the junction with Dicey?s Mill Trail after what seemed like forever. I had drank all my water and just realized it. I would have been fine, but I forgot my 32 oz Gatorade in the fridge at home, so didn?t have any reserves. Melissa gave me a half bottle of water, and I figured since we only had a mile up to the summit of Passaconaway, then the rest was all downhill, I would be fine. I don?t drink much on the way out usually.
We dropped the packs and headed up Passy. It?s so liberating to not have the pack on! The trail started out with great footing and a gentle rise. I thought to myself that if the whole trail was like this, it would be a cake walk back to the car! Soon enough, the trail turned rocky and steep. It wasn?t bad compared to anything else we did earlier, so we hopped along and made it to the ?summit? in short order. The summit here is very uneventful, so we took a quick photo and headed back to our packs.
We took one last break and headed down the Dicey?s Mill Trail. What a great Trail! Two thumbs up from me! It was nice and mellow, not very rocky at all! And the grade was pretty mild. We did the first two miles back out to the Tom Wiggin Junction in an hour, which is great speed for us this late in the day with hurting ankles and knees. We slowed down a bit after that, as I usually do at the end of almost 11 miles. We came to the last junction, a bridge that goes over to the Blueberry Ledge cutoff and there was a sign stating .8 miles back to Ferncroft. We slogged on, thinking we had at LEAST a half hour left, only to see a big white farmhouse through the trees after a hundred yards! It may be .8 miles, but we were back out on the road and somehow felt like we were done with the hike at that point! It was nice being spit out into a couple of large fields with a big farmhouse and a nice dirt road. A really nice spot. We fantasize about living here, and being able to just go have a drink on the screened in porch?But instead we fought a giant swarm of killer mosquitos on the way back to the car : (
Overall, it was a great day. Dicey?s Mill was a great way to end the hike, I can imagine it would make a great hike in, and even a nice snowshoe jaunt in the winter. The Ledges were great fun, at least for me. And that makes #30 and 31! 17 left to go!
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Anna LeBlanc (05-25-2012)