Well, it seemed like Old Home Days up on the Rollins Trail, because we saw a lot of hikers we knew! With Monday’s Plan A not working out, I took up an another offer to hike Whiteface and Passaconaway as a Plan B with Schorman and LadyDi. We had a relaxed start for a winter hike, getting on trail at 8:30a, and saw way more cars at the Ferncroft lot than we’d thought.
We started our trek from Ferncroft, heading up the Blueberry Ledge Trail. We lightened our load at the trailhead by not taking snowshoes, and pretty soon it was clear we might not need traction for a while, either. There was plenty of bare ground! Seems like we’ve had a December thaw this year, and there wasn’t really much snow to speak of. The woods looked like April, not December. As we made our way to the ledges, there was some snow and ice, but enough clear, bare ledge to still not need traction. Any ice was so thin that traction wouldn’t have bit anyway.
After meeting the Blueberry Cutoff at the top of the ledges, we decided to use traction, as we figured the snow would increase with altitude and this was the right decision – there was plenty of firm, packed snow for light traction. This made the travel easier, at least for a while. Before long we came to the ledges. Without snow, the ledges are not too difficult, just requiring a little thinking before going up them. In winter, this changes depending on the amount of snow and ice present. At times, there are lovely snow ramps, which make walking up very easy. Other times, there is nasty ice on the edges of the ledges, preventing a good grip with either hands or feet. Today, there was a little snow, a little ice and overall, we had a pretty easy time hoisting ourselves and packs up and over the ledges. Many places even had nice steps kicked in, which made walking up more like a staircase.
We arrived at the southern peak’s ledges and quickly continued on to the wooded summit, down the Rollins Trail. After a few photos, it was off to lunch rock, further down the Rollins Trail.
Up until this point, we’d only seen one person, LeftyE, who was kind enough to give us a report of the ledges before we actually had to ascend them. After lunch, it became Old Home Days, with a few new faces mixed in, including Phillip from Quebec.
We met Hiker Ed and Fran on our way over to Passaconaway and exchanged greetings. Then at the Dicey’s Mill Trail junction, we saw GuyJ., GaryT. and Karen. Then JohnG. and Paul showed up on their way down from Passaconaway. After a chat and some photos, Schorman and I headed up to the summit, while LadyDi headed on down with the others since she decided she didn’t want or need to bag another summit.
It was quick trip up, and faster trip down! Then the real fun began, the very fast trip down to the parking lot. In less than two hours from the summit, we were back at the car and headed home!
Since I wouldn’t be able to hike the next two days, this was my last hike of 2014, and it was a good way to end a great year of hiking in New England!