For this hike I had some company. Both Iquest (without his dog Marlie this time, home with paw trouble) and HossInNH (who needed Whiteface for his anytime 48 list) had said they would come along a few days out, and we had a late addition in Satchboogie, also from the Hike-NH forums. We had briefly discussed passing on this hike as Mount Washington was calling for -10F temps with 60-80mph winds, but ultimately we decided to give it a go and perhaps it wouldn't be anywhere near that bad. This turned out true, as while it was cold, it was far from -10F on the ridge (more like 7-8F). And the trees mostly sheltered us from the stiff winds (which were howling overhead all day).
Off at 8, we immediately put on the snowshoes after the short road walk to the trailhead, and they stayed on until we returned to the road 8.5 hours later. We had a nice broken trail all the way up the Blueberry Ledge Trail. Moving steadily in the initial moderate grade, we soon hit the steep parts of this trail, where my legs were absolute jelly from 2 prior days on snowshoes. But I was determined to keep going if I could, and while it was slow, I made my way up just fine, with the rest of the guys. Eventually the trail starts to yield some views, which made stopping more frequent, but welcome to me! Also on the bright side, my camera was working all day this hike, whenever I pulled it out.
|Initial peek-a-boo view through the trees to the South|
|Southern pano from Whiteface ledges|
|Chocorua off in the distance|
|The guys checking out a view of Passaconaway and Chocorua|
|Passaconaway - looks a long way off!|
From Whiteface, the Rollins Trail drops 800-900 feet to the Passaconaway-Whiteface col near where it intersects the Dicey's Mill Trail. Along the way we passed through the knot of blowdowns caused by Hurricane Sandy a couple months before. Many people have cleaned out the worst of this, but we still had to do a little over-and-under work to get through it. Really, though, it wasn't that bad. From there it was a fairly easy trip to the Dicey's Mill Trail, though a few times it was hard to pick out the trailbed as it had drifted in. Luckily, the corridor isn't hard to follow in here. Shortly before the Dicey's Mill junction, we ran into the bare-booters heading to Whiteface...chewing up the un-packed trail way worse than what I had seen on Waumbek the day before, despite being far fewer of them (5). At least on the way down we were able to clean up the trail some...
The last 7/10-mile push to the summit of Passaconaway starts innocently enough, but soon steepens right up to near the top, but slowly but surely we made it up. We didn't go to any of the view points past the summit spur (though IQuest did head over briefly to the NE view ledge), just the one on the Dicey's Mill Trail just below the summit. A quick jaunt into the woods at the sign pointing towards the summit, and a snack break later, and we were off for the cars.
|Tripyramids from a ledge near the summit of Passaconaway|
|Carrigain and the Hancocks from near the summit of Passaconaway|
Thanks to the guys for putting up with my awful pace on the climbing (at least going down I was mostly fine). Everyone got checkmarks of some sort on this one, with everyone but IQuest checking these off for winter (grid checks for him, haha!). These were Sachboogie's first winter 4K's, Hoss's #s 2&3, and my 31st and 32nd peaks. A great weekend start to this winter for me, and just 9 more hikes left to complete the NH Winter 4000-Footers!
|Whiteface off in the distance as we cross a field to the cars|
|The lower part of the trail passes through private land - generous landowners|
Peaks: Whiteface (4020', NH4K), Passaconaway (4043', NH4K)
Trails: Blueberry Ledge Trail, Rollins Trail, Dicey's Mill Trail
Mileage: 11.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 4250'
Book Time: 8 hours