Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Fall Hike To Whiteface and Passaconaway

Weather forecast was calling for a cool and windy day. I had Mounts Whiteface (4,020') and Passaconaway (4,043') on my list of hikes I wanted to do in September. It was going to be a perfect Fall day for hiking these summits. My route would take me up the Blueberry Ledge Trail to Mount Whiteface across the Rollins Trail and then up to Mount Passaconaway and down the Dicey's Mill Trail to complete the loop.

It was cool and windy when I stepped outside to leave this morning. I thought if it felt this cool here it would be a very cold one on the summits so I brought plenty of warm layers. The drive to this 4,000 footer trailhead is the longest for me, almost two hours. It was an early start and still dark when I backed out of the driveway.

Daylight was starting to arrive as I went over Pinkham Notch and on into North Conway. I grabbed some breakfast to go on the way through. When I got to Lake Chocorua I had to stop. The scene from the lake was beautiful. I just happened to notice that I could see Whiteface and Passaconaway from the edge of the lake and of course Mount Chocorua was looking majestic in the rising sun.

I continued on and after two hours from leaving home I arrived at the Ferncroft parking area. There were many cars already here. It was cool but not windy at the moment. I could see that Mount Whiteface was in the clear so I made a decision to lighten my backpack a little by removing my down jacket and some other warm weather clothing. I was soon on my way to the trail.

It was a beautiful morning in the woods. As I hiked higher there were occasional wind gusts that were cool but not cold or frigid. As I came to clearings the sun would beat down on me and the warm sunshine felt good. I was able to take off the thin gloves I was wearing. When I arrived at the first view from the trail I was rewarded with a fantastic scene under blue sky with a few puffy clouds.

I was soon at the bottom of the ledges where the trail gets its name from. I stowed the trekking poles on my pack knowing I would need my hands free for the scramble ahead. The last time I was here there was ice and snow to contend with. Today the ledges were dry but still presented a good challenge. I stopped many times to capture some photos, the views were spectacular!

At the top of the final ledge scramble I looked back one final time then was on my way across the Rollins Trail. For some reason this seemed to take a lot longer than the last time I was here. But it was a very enjoyable 2.5 miles across the ridge on this beautiful day. I arrived at the Dicey's Mill Trail junction and stopped for a break. I had a snack and delayered before the climb up Mount Passaconaway.

The air was cool and there were still the occasional wind gusts but not as bad as I thought it was going to be today. I got up to the one outlook with a limited view and there were two hikers resting here. They had passed me back on the Whiteface ledges. They were not sure where the actual summit was so I told them and continued on my way to tag it myself. There is a short side path that leads to a very small cairn that marks the Mount Passaconaway summit. There's no view from the actual summit and I was soon on my way down. It was all downhill from here.

The Dicey's Mill Trail is a continual gradual descent. About halfway down I heard some crashing noise in the bushes below the side of the trail. There was a very big animal trying to get away from me. I'm thinking it was a good sized moose. I could see the bushes moving far below me but never did see the animal. I've seen and heard moose moving in the woods before and this sounded the same. As long as it was going in a direction away from me I was not concerned but I still kept a wary eye out for it.

This was another trail that seemed longer than the last time I was on it. During the last hike on this trail I was joined by two fellow hikers and today I was solo, that may have contributed to it feeling longer. There was one water crossing toward the bottom of the trail that was severely lacking water and a reminder of the drought we are currently experiencing. Further along I emerged from the woods and walked past the private residences that generously allow hikers to cross their land.

Whiteface and Passaconaway were #'s 46 and 47 on my second round of the 48 4,000 footers. Mount Moosilauke will be #48 as it was the first time I completed them. Today was a perfect crisp, cool day for my first Fall hike of the year. I am looking forward to many more hikes this Fall!

Enjoy the photos!

Lake Chocorua on the way to the trailhead with Whiteface and Passaconaway in the distance

Early morning view of Mount Chocorua from Lake Chocorua

Mount Whiteface in the distance from Ferncroft parking area

Tree hangs precariously over the trail

Soaking up some sun

Colored maple leaf

Easy ledges to start

View from the Blueberry Ledge Trail

Enjoying the view

Steep ledge climb begins

Going up!

Mount Chocorua and the Sisters

Mount Passaconaway my second summit of the day

Crossing a steep ledge

Continuing up!

More steep climbing

Pausing to take in the view

More ledge scrambling

At the top of the ledges

I think this is the summit cairn on Mount Whiteface

Mount Chocorua and the Sisters from the Rollins Trail

A very narrow path with ledge on one side and a steep drop on the other

Hobblebush leaves turning color

Looking back at Mount Whiteface

Summit cairn on Mount Passaconaway

Standing on the summit of Mount Passaconaway

The Tripyramids

Waterville Valley ski trails beyond the Tripyramids

Franconia ridgeline in the distance

Mount Carrigain

Low-water crossing

Birch tree burl

Emerging from the woods

Hiker-friendly property owners

A look back at Mount Whiteface in the distance

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

No comments:

Post a Comment