Mounts Whiteface and Passaconaway
4020 feet and 4043 feet
- Date: June 18 and 19
- Trail: Blueberry Ledge Trail, Rollins Trail, Dicey's Mill Trail
- Total hiking time: Day 1: 8 hours, Day 2: 3 hours
- Weather: Cloudy, Brief thunderstorm
"We reached the Blueberry ledges that many had warned me would be challenging. Rain had held off long enough for us to pass sections that might otherwise have been too much for us when wet and slippery."
Read more about Randy's thoughts on these mountains here.
Our group of 5, Randy, Tracy, Aimee, myself, and Quinn, met at the Ferncroft Road Parking lot at 7:00am on Saturday June 18th. After greeting, packing up, and visiting with a man attempting the final two mountains of his 48, we were off. We made great time on the first few miles, slightly faster than a mile an hour pace. When we reached the ledges of the south summit, our pace significantly slowed for the hands and knees scrambling. We worked together to pass packs up the steeper ledges. We encountered a solo hiker with a dog who we assisted get up the ledges as well. At around 1:40pm, we reached the south summit ledges where the Rollins trail begins. We took about 30 minutes here for lunch.
At 2:10pm, we continued on the Rollins trail, passing the junction with the Kate Sleeper Trail, and arrived at the Whiteface summit at about 2:30pm. We briefly stopped for pictures in front of the cairn marking the high point. We continued on the Rollins trail, which lost more elevation than expected and seemed to go on forever. At around 4:15pm, rumblings of a thunderstorm could be heard. We were on the ridge but luckily in a heavily wooded low point. Between 4:30-4:45pm, it began to rain and lightning grew closer - with the overcast skies, we could not see the flashes but based on the sound the storm was growing nearer. Around this time, Randy fell and twisted an ankle. He was in significant pain at the time but after evaluating and standing on the ankle, he felt good to go. Though there was maybe a 15-minute period of steady hard rain, enough to get out pack covers and rain coats, we were sheltered enough that we never felt the full brunt of the storm which must have slightly missed us to the south.
At about 5:40pm, we arrived at the Camp Rich site, our camping location for the evening. At that point, we gathered as a group and decided to attempt Mt. Passaconaway summit, .7 miles from the camp. A number of factors played into this decision, including Randy's ankle and the possibility of it feeling worse in the morning after tightening up overnight, and my own anxiety about a job interview early Monday morning. As a group, we hoped and wanted to be off the mountain in good time on Sunday. With this in mind, we set up our tents, had a snack, and re-filled water. I carried a smaller pack with water, first aid, and food, while Aimee, Tracy, and Randy went pack-less. We left camp at around 6:20pm with a decided upon turnaround time of 7:30pm. I human guided Randy through the switchbacks and some steep scrambling in the final .2 mile to the summit.
At 6:55pm, to our amazement, we arrived at the fine outlook of the Tripyramids and points northwest, just 40 yards before the summit. By 7pm, we were on the unmarked summit and celebrating with summit cookies. After a brief celebration and rest, we headed down, arriving at camp at roughly 8:20pm. Dinner, Passaconaway stories, bear hang, and bedtime ensued. We woke at 5:00am the next morning and were on the trail slightly before 7:00am for our 3.6 mile hike out. The trail was surprisingly easy, with solid footing and moderate grades. We made great time, arriving at the cars by 10:00am. Overall, a very successful hike. A sore ankle and slightly bloodied and bruised knee for Randy were our only minor incidents. Tracy had a slight fall on the Blueberry Ledge Trail but no reported pain or injuries.
Pre-hike page:Mts Whiteface and Passaconaway Pre-hike Information
Blog posts about the hike:"Whiteface and Passaconaway lift us above last year!" by Randy
"Scary Mountain Ledges and Trust" by Tracy