After looking at the last post, I realized that I hadn’t been hiking in two months! Between the weather and family/church events, finding a Saturday to go hiking wasn’t easy. This weekend my calendar was free, so we looked at the list of peaks still needed to be hiked and chose Whiteface. We chose Whiteface for several reasons: the weather had been dry for the later half of the week, there was only a 30% chance of rain on Saturday, the snow was almost gone, and my son had new gear for the season he wanted to try out. I also figured at 8.4 miles round trip, the mileage was just right for my young hiking partner’s first hike of the season.
Even before the hike began we had a nice surprise wildlife sighting. Just we passed a bog north of the Rattlesnake and Morgan/Percival trailhead parking lots on Rt. 113 on the way to Ferncroft Rd., we saw a male moose out for an early morning munch. We pulled the car over, got out and took some pictures. At first I thought it was a female moose, but then I noticed that this moose was just starting to grow some antlers.
We eventually ended up at the trailhead parking and started out toward the Blueberry Ledge trail. Even though you need to walk through a residential area to get the actual trail, it is well signed as to where you should go.
The trail itself was easy and gentle up to the Blueberry Ledges. From the Blueberry Ledges we got our best views of the day, as it was overcast all day.
After the Blueberry Ledges, the trail grade gets a little more steep, with nice rock steps in some sections. This section was interesting because there were no leaves on the trees yet. The trees below the Blueberry Ledges had leaves, but these only had buds that were barely starting to unfurl. After a break, a snack and more walking, we were at the junction with the Tom Wiggin trail.
After a quick break at the trail junction we were ready to tackle the ledges. The ledges were interesting and fun in a way – different than just following the dirt and rock path through the woods. My son did a great job figuring out how to get up the rocks and didn’t need any help.
Once we were up the ledges and at the south summit, we took a break for lunch. We couldn’t see anything as we were socked in by the clouds, but really it wasn’t a bad thing except for the lack of views. (I have promised that the hike to Passaconaway will be on a sunny day!) The temperatures were cool and there were very few bugs, so we couldn’t complain too much! At lunch time, we started to see more people – two men who started out as we pulled into the parking lot and were now headed back from the Whiteface summit, and then a few other small groups who were headed over to Passaconaway. After lunch we headed for the true summit.
The true summit is not at the south summit ledges, nor is it just a bit north of the summit on the Rollins trail. The true summit is .3 miles north of the south summit ledges on the Rollins trail. You must pass the Kate Sleeper Trail junction first, at .1 miles north of the south summit ledges and then continue another .2 miles or so north on the Rollins trail. It is fairly easy walking, although you will drop down to col at the Kate Sleeper trail junction and the climb easily out of it. Right after the south summit is where we encountered the most snow and ice. There was monorail that was very narrow and rotting, almost too narrow to walk on, crumbling on the sides with posthole potential. My son seemed to do well with it, but he wore microspikes on the way back just for a little added traction and confidence.
We found the true summit. It is marked by a cairn on the right side of the trail when heading toward Passaconaway on the Rollins trail, and by a very small, very narrow little sign on a skinny tree on the left side of the trail. The sign is no wider than 2″, and about 10″ long, with Whiteface and the elevation scratched into it.
Once we got our summit pictures, we talked about continuing the trip to Passaconaway, but my son decided that he was ready to go back to the car and did not want to add another 2.5 miles to the trip. We were happy with bagging the one summit and since Passaconaway wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, we headed back down to the car. It just started to rain about a mile from the car, and it wasn’t even enough to pull out the rain jackets.
It was a great day – we were safe during the hike, enjoyed the challenge of the ledges, and bagged one more peak!
Here’s the trip in my son’s words: “On our way there, we saw a moose! He was a small boy with little tiny knobs as antlers. The ledges were fun to climb but scary at places. We saw more and more ice and snow toward the top that I did not think I would see. I was sort of disappointed because I wanted a view of “the bowl” area from the ledges. Overall I thought all the hike was great.”
Interesting what things about the trip caught the attention of a ten year old.