Hiking/Trekking - Our trekking blog Jeanne & Peter

Hikes

Whiteface/Passaconaway

Posted on July 20th, 2014
by PeterD in Hikes

These two peaks were the last of the ‘outcasts’ – the peaks we’d left to the end of our list of 48 4000 footers (with the exception of Mt. Carrigan – the peak we’ve been planning to be the one on which we finish the list). Whiteface/Passaconaway were penultimate, not for any particular reason, just that’s the way it ended up in our planning.

View the trail on everytrail.com

View the trail on Everytrail.com

As with many of our other hikes, we scouted for a B&B which we could call home-base for our hike – arrive on Friday night, hike Saturday, and drive home Sunday – yes, we do enjoy our comforts! This time, we chose the Brass Heart Inn, mainly for its proximity to the trailhead – roughly 8 miles from Ferncroft Rd, the trailhead for the Dicey’s Mill trail. The Inn is secluded, said to be visited by Paul Newman, Franklin Roosevelt and others. As it happens, we were the only guests for the weekend.

For the hike, we’d planned a straight loop, leaving from Ferncroft Road on the Blueberry Ledge trail, straight through to Mt. Whiteface.  From there, continuing on the Rollins trail to its junction with the Dicey’s Mill trail, summiting Mt. Passaconaway, then returning to the parking lot on the Dicey’s Mill trail.  A loop of 11.7 miles, with an elevation gain of 3,800 feet and a book time of just under 8 hours.

trailheadWhen we awoke saturday, it was partly cloudy, low humidity and not a puff of wind. After some bacon & eggs at the Inn, we drove the short distance to the trailhead, arriving at 9am to a nearly-full parking lot. Tightening the laces on the hiking boots, we headed out, but not before the usual picture, this time at the Blueberry Ledge Trailhead.

The trail rose gradually through the woods, with good footing, becoming more steep as we neared the junction with the Tom Wiggin trail just shy of 3 miles. From there, we ran into a number of scrambles and ledge, sometimes requiring us to help one another to get up the rock faces. But these sections were short-lived and once scaled, we were rewarded with a number of stunning views of Chocorua Lake, Lake Winnipesaukee in the distance, and the bowl created by the Mts Whiteface, and Passaconaway and the Sandwich range.

Passaconaway view

View of Passaconaway from Whiteface

Ledge

Mt. Chocorua in the distance

Lake Winnipesaukee

Lake Winnipesaukee in the distance

We reached the Mt. Whiteface summit in around 2hr20min, nearly an hour ahead of the 3hr 34min book time. The summit itself is wooded, so after a (very brief!) celebration of peak number 46, we continued on the Rollins Trail for Mt. Passaconaway. We enjoyed a bit of ridge walking on the Rollins trail for a bit but then, unlike many of the other multi-peak hikes, the descent/ascent between Whiteface and Passaconaway was nearly 1000ft of elevation change so we had a bit of work to do. It was on this section that we began to see a number of other hikers, even running into a few members of the Wonalancet Outing Club, taking a tally of people using the trail.

A small cairn marking the summit.  #47 for us!

A small cairn marking the summit. #47 for us!

By 1pm, we reached the junction of the Rollins and Dicey’s Mill trail, where we stopped for a bite to eat before the ascent to Passaconaway. Quickly refreshed, we headed up the .9 miles to Mt. Passaconaway. Again, a wooded summit with hardly a marking, other than the (very small) cairn that someone had assembled. A picture and recognition of our 47th peak, and we were off to retrace the .9 miles back to the Rollins trail junction and the remaining 3.7mi from there to the car. This last section was a gradual grade its entire length and a brief, moderately steep descent before the only real water crossing of the Wonalancet River.

Much to our surprise, we were back at the car at 3:40, nearly 1-1/2hrs ahead of the book time. We knew we were moving, especially on the ascent, but we hadn’t really expected to be back at the car until 5. The extra late-afternoon time was welcome, and gave us time to freshen up before heading out for a nice evening meal.

In all, a nice hike, some challenges in the rocks and steep grades leading up to Whiteface, but mostly sound footing and moderate grades through. 47 peaks completed, and we’re looking forward to completing the list of 48 in a few weeks on Mt. Carrigan.

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