A Winter (or is that Spring?) trip to Waumbek, #18, 3.13.12

With the carpool switched for the day, I felt that I could either take a longer hike or hike farther away from home.  With the weather forecast for clouds and possible rain, I chose a shorter hike but one farther away, and one that I needed for my winter 48 list, Waumbek.   Waumbek, although not on everyone’s favorites list is a nice hike and has some distinct sections of forest, plus a nice ridge walk.

I took a chance that the summer lot would be accessible, and drove up the road to find out.  Sure enough, it was easy to get into, with just a bit of ice still hanging around.  With the warm temperatures, this might be gone soon.  It was in the 50’s when I arrived this morning!

Summer parking lot for the Starr King Trail to Waumbek, with some ice remaining.

The first section of trail was a bit muddy, and I wondered if starting off in the microspikes was such a good idea.  Within a few minutes the ice appeared and microspikes were the right decision.  They were the perfect traction for the trail today, an icy, packed sidewalk for much of the hike.

Icy, packed conditions of the first portion of the trail.

After passing through the open, previously logged forest, and then into the mostly coniferous forest the trail started to change, with a bit of soft snow over the ice.  The coniferous forest section of this trail is my favorite part and soon I arrived at the spring.  There had been reports of a section of blue ice after the spring, and sure enough it was there.  It was a little longer that I had anticipated, but was not difficult to navigate, either by just walking on it with microspikes or making a few slight detours into the woods.

Blue ice section, just past the spring. It is easy enough to navigate over or around with traction.

After that it was on to the summit of Starr King, and then on to Waumbek.  There was only one small view of the Presidentials near Starr King, and since it was still early, Madison and Adams were in the clear.  This would not be the case later, as all the higher summits were socked in by the time I was on my way home.

Madison and Adams in the clear in the morning. Washington never did clear up this day.

The ridge walk today was nice, with the snow being a bit soft, but nicely packed.  It wasn’t quite soft enough for snowshoes, so I didn’t go to the trouble to change to them, but certainly could have.  As long as I stayed on the already packed portion of trail, the soft snow was easy to walk in.  As usual, if you step off track, you posthole!

Upon arriving at Waumbek, I snapped a few photos, checked the temperature – a nice 46 degrees F –  and was on my way back to Starr King, where I had planned to eat lunch by the fireplace and then descend.

Summit of Waumbek. I know there is a cairn somewhere under that snow.

Time to head back!

Lunch by the fireplace, fire not included.

The descent was quick and uneventful, except for the 2o minutes or so of light rain.   I had my pack off, open and was reaching for a jacket when it stopped.  Figures, I knew I should have waited a few more minutes!  The descent was where I saw the only other hiker of the day, another solo hiker.  We exchanged greetings and trail info and I was on my way to the car, happy and grateful to have had a nice, safe day out and another peak to add to the list.

Very cool burl on a tree that I noticed on the descent. I'd never noticed it before, probably due to all the foliage around it in the warmer seasons.


4 thoughts on “A Winter (or is that Spring?) trip to Waumbek, #18, 3.13.12

  1. Hi Summerset
    Overall, it sounds like you had a decent day of trekking! But, I can empathize with you about stopping to put on rain gear, and then the rain stops! I sometimes think the “weather-gods” do stuff like that just for kicks, and are having a good chuckle somewhere behind the scenes!

    Regarding the snowshoes strapped to your pack as seen in one of your photos, those are MSRs, right? For whatever reason, I thought you used the Tubbs Flex.


  2. John, yes I’m sure somebody got a laugh out of me reaching for that jacket! Yes, those are MSR’s, the Evo Ascents. So far, so good with them, and I like that the crampons are pretty aggressive and they have televators. They’ve got better grip than my husband’s MSR’s, which are the Lightning Ascents. If I have to replace them, I’d probably get the same ones, except in red, if possible. Yes, I’m pretty shallow when it comes to color selection when I have a choice in the product that I want. 😉

  3. Great post Summerset. Looks like an interesting track with the continuous “ice sidewalk”. We did Waumbek for the first (and only) time two winters ago and enjoyed it immensely. It was on the last day of winter and didn’t technically count as a winter peak since we were only back to Starr King when spring arrived but was quite different than the conditions you experienced this year with the serious lack of snow. I thing the ridge walk between Starr King and Waumbek in the winter is one of the prettiest walks in the woods we’ve done anywhere. It may not be on many people’s favorites list, but it’s on ours. 🙂 Thanks for sharing another journey


  4. Thanks so much Mark! The ice sidewalk was actually a quick hike *with* microspikes. Do go back to Waumbek in the summer, the spruce and mossy forest section with the spring is absolutely beautiful and the ridgewalk in the summer is just as nice, but different with the heavy growth of ferns.

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