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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mt. Whiteface (#26) and Mt. Passaconaway (#27), March 28, 2009

Blueberry Ledge Trail, Rollins Trail, Dicey's Mill Trail.

11.8 miles.

Our family is going through a rough time right now, due to some unsettling news received the day before our hike. I had festivities planned for Sat evening, but I cancelled them, knowing I would not be good company for anyone.

Alex and I went ahead with our planned hike. We had at first decided on Passaconaway. However, I read a trail conditions report on Whiteface before we left the house -- all trails sounded like they were good to go. When we arrived at the trailhead, I gave Alex the choice of doing either Whiteface or Passaconaway. She studied the map and decided to go for both.

Blueberry Ledge Trail begins easily, but toward the blueberry ledges the pitch steepens a bit.

Snow is receding up there -- we were both happy to see snow-free cairns and bare rock.

The amble through the blueberry ledges is picturesque. And it looks as though the bears are awake -- we saw a ton of footprints and a lot of scat.

Past the blueberry area, the trail changes back to all snow.

We arrived at the first of the ledge scrambles -- there's a very nice view at the bottom of the first challenge.

Said challenge is made rather easy by the addition of a rope currently fixed along the path.

We made it up and over with no problems.

Nice views are afforded along the way to the second scramble.

The next bit was the most challenging for me. There's little ice, but the snow is still so deep in places that postholing while climbing is very possible. Foot placement was tricky -- the danger was not sliding down the slope, but sinking and twisting while trying to ascend. Alex scampered up with no problems -- but my greater weight made me sink repeatedly. I ended up walking on my knees and using my poles to push myself along -- it was much safer than trying to climb on my feet.

Here's a look down that section, once I reached the top.

We stood and enjoyed the views for a while before continuing onward.

The third scramble was a complete non-issue. There was little ice and plenty of grip in the snow.

We made it to a nice outlook. There's a giant boulder here, of course we had to climb it.

From here it's a jaunt through the woods and up another hill toward the summit.

The high point is unmarked and difficult to figure out. In addition, we had to fight our way through branches to along the Rollins Trail.

We found a section of trail that was higher than anything else we could see, so we decided we had found the summit.

We continued down the Rollins Trail.

Up to this point, we had both survived in microspikes by staying directly in the center of the trail. However, the snow on the Rollins Trail was soft, and snowshoes became absolutely necessary. Alex didn't need hers, it was just heavy me that needed flotation.

The Rollins Trail dragged on and on for us -- but it was a good trail to discuss the unfortunate things which we were emotionally dealing with. We talked together and cried a bit while we hiked. The tears were initially due to dealing with our personal issues -- and then they became tears of frustration as branches repeatedly smacked both of us in the face and scratched up our bodies as we forged on toward Passaconaway.

Along the way, we had a nice view down into the "bowl."

After a million years and some emotional cleansing, we reached Dicey's Mill Trail.

A short rest here, then up to Passaconaway's summit.

There's a little viewpoint just before the summit.

We found the sign pointing toward the high point...

Then we tried to find the summit -- another unmarked, viewless spot. We walked around a bit, to make sure we had hit it at some point...then took a picture.

We headed back down with little fanfare. Dicey's Mill Trail was a nice walk, nothing steep or out-of-the-ordinary.

It was nice to see rocks with blazes poking through the snow.

The trail comes out to a road, by someone's (very beautiful) house.

There's a giant rock on the property -- Alex thought it looked like a turtle and took the following picture.

We continued along, passing the turn for the Blueberry Ledge trail...

...and arriving back at the car a half hour before sunset.

It was a good hike, just what we both needed. Alex showed no signs of fatigue and felt strong throughout the day.

It was very nice to feel warm today. Neither of us needed gloves, hats, hand warmers or fleece. Seeing rocks, mud, and bare trail made both of us very happy -- winter has been fun, but we are now looking forward to summer.

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