Sunday, March 13, 2011

Welch and Dickey Mountains - Winter Hiking

Mt. Welch:  2,605 ft 
Mt. Dickey:  2,734 ft
Total elevation gain:  1,859 ft
Trails:  Welch Mountain and Dickey Mountain trails loop
Difficulty:  Moderate

This 4.5 mile loop hike took our group across the summits of the Welch and Dickey Mountains.  We first took the Welch Mountain trail from the parking lot. We crossed a small brook and our ascent took us along side of that brook for some of the way. When we got to the slabs it started to snow lightly. We took a break here, resting for a few minutes to snack. I took photos from the tops of the slabs and more clouds rolled in. Route 49 into Waterville Valley town center can be seen from these slabs.

As we made our ascent to the peak, there were more slabs to scramble over. The slabs were icy and MicroSpikes provided traction. I got to lead our group to the peak, scrambling over the slabs and keeping the group on the trail. The trail was a maze as it twisted and turned around the icy granite slabs and squeezed between narrow cracks in the giant granite boulders.  When we reached the peak, we made our way around the top to the side where its descent is the toughest part of the trail. At this point, the trail is rocky coupled with icy spots and makes for a slow-going descent. There weren't many clear places on the rock for my hands, so I trusted my feet and descended the rocks backwards as this made it easier to make my own footholds in the ice.

There was a scary moment when a couple of my hiking companions slipped coming down the rocks. Steve, our organizer, came to their rescue to give them a hand down. A couple of them wanted to turn back, but Steve assured them that the descent would be harder if they turned back. Finally our entire group made it safely down with no injuries and some 'fear factor' to recall. At the col we looked for a spot under the Evergreen trees to take a few minutes for lunch.

We continued on and made our ascent to Dickey Peak scrambling over more slabs of granite. At the summit, we took more photos, taking in the views of the Welch Peak as well. On our descent on the Dickey Mountain trail, we made sure to follow the trail past a small cairn, then up and over another slab. A few yards on this part of the trail lead us to the tops of the rock climbing walls named Dickey's central and upper ledge and Dickey Traverse. The views from here were spectacular! I was ecstatic with all that slab I was standing on, I couldn't stop giggling! I wanted to rock climb them right then and there! The sun had come out and I not only took several photos, but I managed to get a video clip with my camera.

You can find the vid here:  
http://eastcoasttropics.com/MtWelch/MtWelch_2011.mov


We continued our descent down the steep trail and just a few yards off the slabs was a wall oozing with ice flows! <squeal!> I had no idea I would find ice flows here and I couldn't believe how fat a couple of them were! Of course I took photos! On the rest of our descent the sun shone brightly and the trail started to get slushy. We took a few minutes break to rest on the log bench before continuing on. Our hike ended in the parking lot and just in time. The clouds rolled back in and it looked like it would start to snow again.

On this hike, the summits were exciting. But not as exciting as scrambling over the slabs of granite and finding those all gorgeous ice flows! WOOT!


 ** Click on the photos to see a larger view 

Slabs near the summit of Welch Mountain (3)

Welch Mountain from Dickey Peak
 At Dickey Peak
 Descent Dickey Mountain Trail (3)


Atop granite slabs (6)
 





 Ice Flows (3)