Peaks: East Sleeper (3840', NEHH), Whiteface (4020', NH4K), Passaconaway (4043', NH4K)
Elevation Gain: 5000ft
Book Time: 10 hours (actual 7.5)
With afternoon showers in the forecast, I struck out for Ferncroft on this day hoping to beat the rain and still get some views from the awesome Mount Whiteface ledges. I'd done the Blueberry Ledge Trail twice before, once in winter 2013, and once about 8 years before that. Both times the trail kicked my butt, but had some great views, and I was eager to scramble up the ledges again. In my attempt to beat the rain, I got to Ferncroft early enough that I was the first one out, though as I set off a trio of guys and a dog pulled in, and would later catch me near the top of Whiteface.
I started off hiking up the road and onto the Blueberry Ledge Trail, but in the interest of visiting a new trail, I took the Blueberry Ledge Cutoff, which parallels the main trail for 1.4 miles before re-joining before the main climbing begins. This trail was clearly much less traveled, and took some care in one or two spots to follow (the trail shares a treadway with a small brook in a couple spots), but was an interesting alternative. Along the way I checked out the bridge over the main brook that connects to the Dicey's Mill Trail, where the water was flowing well. This bridge offers a way to avoid the one main crossing on the Dicey's Mill Trail in times of high water.
|At the Blueberry Ledge/Blueberry Ledge Cutoff junction|
|Minor peek through the clouds from the ledges near the junction|
|Time to start climbing|
|Great trail work here|
|The summit of Passaconaway hiding in the clouds|
|Below one of the ledges|
|Atop the same ledge|
|Passaconaway's summit and a peek of blue skies now|
|Blowdowns en-route to East Sleeper - major trailwork done here, all with hand saws!|
|Also some nice blue skies mixing in|
|Google Earth recently updated their imagery around East Sleeper. Note the massive areas of blowdowns, and the trail (blue line) doesn't even pass through the worst of them!|
The views here were the best of the day (oddly I didn't take any pictures, I just relaxed for 5-10 minutes), but I could see that the rain was on its way so I quickly visited the summit (follow the sign, there is a clearing with a small cairn and a stick sign on the back of a tree in the small clearing), and quickly headed down. The rain started less than 10 minutes down, and continued steadily for about an hour, by which time I had made it down to the flat part of the trail. The sun was even back out as I walked along the field through Ferncroft back to my car. All in all, a fun day on the trails!
|The Bowl from the Rollins Trail|
|Icy ledge on the Dicey's Mill Trail|
|4th time here, finally found the stick sign (I've stood right here several times, not sure how I missed it!)|