We began the day not knowing what to expect. Snow, sleet, ice pellets, and freezing rain had recently pummeled the White Mountains, so we assumed we'd be pushing our way through at least a couple inches of heavy, wet snow.
We arrived at the trailhead just after sunrise and were surprised at how warm it was outside. We'd gotten used to frigid temperatures; the 25 degrees felt downright balmy.
The Ferncroft parking area looked lovely in the morning light.
Alex played in the ice/slush as I finished gearing up.
Traditional trailhead shot...
The beginning of Dicey's Mill cuts through private property. It was nice to see this sign...
The trail was packed, but covered by an icy crust. We barebooted the first 3.7 miles, leaving footprints but not postholes.
The snow depth increased with elevation; I donned my snowshoes at the intersection with Rollins Trail.
Alex made pictures in the snow while I chugged some water.
Onward, to the top of Passaconaway! Breaking trail wasn't difficult, the new snow was never more than three inches deep.
On the viewpoint by the summit...
Finding the summit itself...
Mt. Passaconaway, winter 4K #33!
We returned to the viewpoint, admired the scenery, then descended to the intersection with Rollins Trail.
Rollins leads to the summit of Whiteface. Normally, we'd have ascended Blueberry Ledge Trail to Whiteface, then taken Rollins Trail toward Passaconaway. However, the ledges on Blueberry Trail are covered with ice in the winter, and I didn't want to risk a fall. Hence our decision to tag Passaconaway first, then do an out-and-back on Rollins for Whiteface.
I don't have any pictures of Rollins because I was too busy struggling. I'd never gone west on this trail before...I was not mentally prepared for the uphill slog. The highlight of this section was running into VFTT's "Pepper and Me." We enjoyed speaking to them and were sad when they departed...both of us wished we could have turned around right there and gone (downhill!) with them.
Eventually, we made it to Whiteface. Unfortunately, I dropped my camera in the snow and couldn't properly dry out the lens for quite some time.
Here's a blurry Alex by the summit cairn...
...and a blurry, unofficial summit sign.
From here, it was 6.1 miles to the car...but most of that trek was downhill, so Alex and I picked up speed and made it back to the trailhead earlier than I'd expected. I thought we'd be in headlamps for most of the descent down Dicey's Mill, but we only needed the lights for the last mile and a half. The only slightly problematic issue was my ankle, which twisted the wrong way before we'd finished with Rollins. Luckily, there was no pain with this twist, only numbness. I didn't feel my ankle for the rest of the hike, and even now (four days later) there isn't much sensation in that joint. I can walk just fine, though, so hopefully all will be well for the next outing.
Here we are, back at the trailhead. If you look closely, you can see Alex in the middle of the picture below (I must learn how to take photographs in the dark!).
'Twas a good, albeit tiring, hike. 14 more mountains, 7 hikes to go before March 20.