I don’t know when I’ve had a more fun year of hiking. I might say that every year, but I really mean it.
Last weekend, I headed with a friend to the loop trail over Welch and Dickey mountains (elev. 2605 and 2734), a short distance from Waterville Valley. This is a well-traveled trail, mentioned in guidebooks as being great for families. I tried to imagine how crowded the parking lot must be on summer weekends. This is fall, though; the leaves are past peak and the morning temps are in the thirties or lower. There were only three other cars in the lot Saturday morning, assuring us a crowd-free day.
My companion for the day was friend and neighbor Lenette. Despite umpteen operations on her knees, she’s indefatigable, and a great deal more fit than I am. She refused to be discouraged by my slow pace and overall wimpiness on hills. We had a great time. It took us about four hours to complete the hike, on a day with a trace of flurries in the air on the summit ledges.
I leave a detailed trail description to the guidebooks that are out there. Lenette had an AMC book with a description of Welch-Dickey, while I had Daniel Doan’s Fifty Hikes in the White Mountains. The trailhead is in White Mountain National Forest, and there’s an iron ranger in the parking lot to receive the modest day-pass fee. There’s a very clean pit toilet there, too, which is always a plus.
We agree with the books: don’t do this one on a rainy day. There’s lots of smooth sloping ledge that would get very slick very quickly. That wasn’t a problem last weekend. We had good weather, dry except for those flurries, with cool but not bitter temperatures.
I carried a map, but the trail is well-blazed and well-beaten, so I didn’t use it. I probably should have brought it out on the summits when I took pictures, just so I could identify what I was photographing. Alas, all I have are shots of pretty views. If readers can tell me what some of those views include, I’ll be much obliged.
About the pictures of me with a pile of rocks: when we got to the top of Dickey, I asked Lenette to take a picture of me next to the summit cairn. I took hold of the big stick in the middle of the cairn, thinking that would make a nice pose. Serves me right for posing: the stick was very precariously arranged amidst the rocks of the cairn, and as soon as I touched it, it fell over along with about a dozen of the rocks. I was mortified – and of course Lenette kept snapping away! We moved along laughing as soon as I’d repaired the mess I’d made.