On Tuesday Vicky agreed to meet for a hike. We both had peaks to bag in January but we agreed on Whiteface Passaconaway. We didn’t discuss route or anything significant other than I wanted to run/hike. Vicky wanted clarification on shoe/boot type. We both wore boots and spikes. While I had visions of a bit of running it – ha – wishful thinking as always: it was a hike.
However, in the parking lot I told her I wanted to do the counterclockwise route since the granite ledges on the approach to Whiteface on Blueberry Ledge induces anxiety for me going up. Last year I did the loop counter clockwise and it was so much better going down the ledges than going up. I wanted to repeat what worked. Vicky is the most laid back, open for anything hiker friend I know. She didn’t care what route – she needed a long hike. Although I will note that three hikers who passed near the real summit of Whiteface as we headed to the ledges seemed worried for us.
But let’s start from the beginning.
Great weather, clear skies and no wind. Dicey’s Mill to Passaconaway has a bunch of steep parts but doable. Spikes were clearly the best choice. We get to the “boring” summit (sorry but it is), but the views between trees showed us Mount Washington in its glory.
Back to Rollins Trail and the ridge.
It is on this amazing ridge where I realized that I was gridding. Where I knew I was In. I am gridding. I knew these trails. I knew where I was going. I knew this ridge. I knew where the true summit was.
This may be the heart of why we want to know things so intimately. We know the familiarity that brings clarity. In the wilderness, things can change on a dime but yet we know trail junctions (and celebrate them) and can anticipate ledges or difficult river crossings. You know this place so well; and that is why I’m gridding because I love knowing a trail or route because I figured it out. I looked at the map and I hiked/ran/walked it over and over. I figured it out. I got oriented to this place.
Now, I know, I’m so gridding it. Every 4,000 footer in New Hampshire, in every month. Hells Ya. I say.
This Passaconaway-Whiteface Loop is glorious. We saw two cute dogs; the one with a bell that warned us of his presence and number two had the cutest ears. Spikes were the wrong choice when we got to the ridge; soft snow. We should’ve brought our snowshoes.
While we wished for our snowshoes but wondered: would we have put them on if we had them since it was “yeah spikes” more then “we wished we had snowshoes”. I know – it’s a dilemma. So much energy to put them on.
We got to the place on Whiteface where I knew it was going to be tough. Vicky is fearless. She is taking in the views of the Presidentials and grabbing photos. I’m like, “Hey Vicky, I’m going to keep going.” I start the “bad part” and it isn’t really bad, yet. And I can’t remember which is the very hard part because I think there are three sections that are hard.
“Is this the bad part?” I ask Vicky.
“No, it’s coming up,” she said.
We go past the crevasse and it’s okay.
“Was this the bad part?” I ask Vicky.
“No, it’s coming up,” she said.
We get to a part where I butt slide a bit and jump; but it’s not super hard.
“Is this the bad part?” I ask VIcky.
“Yes, that was it,” she said.
“Wow, that was easy,” I said.
And just like that, the bad part is over. I estimate it’s about 1% of the hike. Blueberry Ledge Trail was perfection.
I’m gridding it. I have the best hiking partners. That is all.