Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Waumbek Wellness Hike

Having not felt well for the past two days it was doubtful if I would be hiking this weekend. I was feeling better this morning so I thought a short hike was in order. Maybe some fresh mountain air would help clear up what was ailing me. I chose Mount Waumbek (4,006') for it's short, easy climb and also has a couple of good views of the Presidential Range. So it would be up and back on the Starr King Trail for a 7.2 mile hike.

 Just before sunrise

 At the trailhead

 Tree burl

 Sun coming up on the trail

The weather forecast called for fair skies with unseasonably warm temps in the 40's. It was a slow start leaving the house this morning. I was taking my time and still feeling a little drained. It was a pleasant drive to the trailhead with low clouds clearing and the high summits in the clear. I was the first one in the parking lot and was actually surprised there would be no hikers ahead of me on this beautiful morning. It was almost 8:30 when I stepped on the trail.

 Ice on the trail

 Time for the microspikes

 View of the Presidentials from Starr King

The trail was completely clear of snow and ice as I started up. After a nice dry stretch of trail there was sections of mud that I had to navigate around. Very small patches of snow began to appear before there was finally some ice buildup on the trail. As the ice became more difficult to walk around I decided it was time to put on the microspikes. They would stay on up to Starr King, over to Waumbek and until I got back down to dry trail again. 

 On the summit of Starr King

 Gray Jay waiting

The microspikes were getting a workout and I was able to pick up my pace by walking straight up the ice-packed trail. I didn't want to push myself too much as I was still not feeling up to par. On top of Starr King the sun was shining down and there was a spectacular view of the Presidentials. The Gray Jays were also here to greet me hoping I'd give up some snack food. After a few photos I looked around and the Gray Jays were gone, probably got tired of waiting.

 On the summit of Mount Waumbek

I continued on with my final mile over to Mount Waumbek. About halfway across the Gray Jays descended upon me from out of nowhere. I stopped and broke out the mixed nuts I was carrying, now how did they know? As they landed on my outstretched hand I was able to capture some photos. They're a big bird and have an insatiable desire to completely deplete your stash of snacks. I abruptly ended the handout session and continued my hike.

 Bretton Woods ski area

 Mount Washington

I reached the Waumbek summit cairn and there is nary a view to be seen from here. I was determined to find a view so I kept going past the Kilkenney Ridge Trail sign. Much to my surprise there was a beautiful view of the Presidentials less than a minute past this sign. This was my fourth time on Waumbek and I never knew this outlook was here. Usually when there is snow on the ground the trail is not broken out past the sign.

 View from Mount Waumbek

 More Gray Jays on Starr King

While I was at the outlook I could hear hikers at the summit. After a few photos I started back. Up till now I had not met any hikers on the trail, that would change. There were several hikers and dogs that I met on the way back over to Starr King. I made another brief stop when I got to the summit of Starr King where I saw three more hikers and two dogs. The Gray Jays came swooping back in again. I gave out a few more snacks and then it was time to make my descent.

Ready to swoop down

The trail was now getting busy. I passed hikers that were coming up as well as passed some going down. I was actually feeling much better and had no more symptoms that I was experiencing for the past two days. The microspikes came off when the trail ran out of ice. Then it was back to dry ground with an occasional section of mud and water on the trail that I could easily walk around.

Snow and ice on the way down

The parking lot was full when I returned. It was nice to be the first one here this morning and have the summits to myself. This is exactly the hike I was looking for and it seemed to be the treatment I needed to get me feeling well again. Today's great weather definitely helped.  With only eight more days until Winter Solstice there are really no signs of any major winter weather arriving before then. The hiking conditions this Fall have been fantastic and today was no exception. It was tough getting myself out the door this morning but well worth the effort and I enjoyed a great day on the trail! 

Final stretch of mud

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!


  1. Another pleasant journey. I enjoy your blog thank you for taking time to share your adventures. Starr King and Waumbek are must do hikes next year.

    1. Thanks again for visiting. This is also a great winter hike...if someone else does the trailbreaking!