Passaconaway was the mountain of choice for Monday’s hike. I needed it for my winter list and since I’d left it behind on the trip to Whiteface, it was time to go back and get that peak. The weather forecast was finally for some temperatures above zero and light to no winds, so it was ideal. It was also supposed to snow, but I don’t mind being snowed on.
There was no one in the lot when I pulled into the Ferncroft parking lot. The lot faces east and the sun was trying desperately to make an appearance before succumbing to the grey clouds that would soon bring snow.
I finished getting ready and headed up past the houses and barns and into the woods. The trail was nice and hard packed, I wasn’t sinking in or chopping up the trail, so I left the snowshoes on my pack and was able to make nice progress up the trail. I passed the Tom Wiggin Trail junction and lost in thought, was surprised when I came to the stream crossing. The ice bridge was much better than a few weeks ago, and since I still didn’t trust the icy log, I went across easily on the ice.
Now for the ascent up to the Rollins Trail. The clouds were thickening up, but I still had good visibility to the ridge across from me, so I could gauge my progress. Steadily I gained altitude and some time around 10:00a it started to snow. At first, just a few flakes and then I realized that I could see it snowing on the summit cone of Passaconaway, just ahead. No problem, the air temperature seemed a bit warmer and I had plenty of warm and dry layers so I continued up to the Rollins Trail junction.
I hung a right at the junction and headed up the last section to the summit. I’d been on this section twice before in the summer, and it was easier than I remembered. I came to the last section and remembered there were three steep, but short sections. I was able to recognize the last section by the rock outcroppings and realized I was almost to the summit! Sure enough, I passed by the outlook rock, and the sign for the summit path was close by. Quickly I went down the path, over to the summit in the woods, such as it is, and I was there. After a few quick pictures, changing of jackets and rearranging of gear, I was on my way back down to Ferncroft.
The snow continued to fall, and the woods were peaceful and quiet. I had noticed a few trees along the last mile or so that had some obvious bear scratches on them. Since the snow around the trees wasn’t disturbed at all, and we’ve had some really cold temperatures recently, I was praying that the bears would be peacefully hibernating somewhere else. Which, thankfully, they were.
I continued down quickly, and soon was passing all the landmarks back to the parking area: the gigantic rock right before the stream crossing, the stream crossing, the Tom Wiggin Trail, and the bridge over the stream to the Blueberry Ledge Cutoff Trail. I went out on the bridge for a few minutes to admire the interesting ice and snow sculptures formed by the action of the water flowing underneath. Back on the trail, I passed the Sandwich Wilderness boundary and then was out of the woods and headed back down the road. I had seen no one all day, but did note one set of tracks headed in to hike while I was hiking toward the parking area on the road and two more cars in the lot.
I had a great morning out, was able to relax and refresh, enjoy the beauty of creation in another season, and got a little bit of solitude in what looks to be another busy week!