Winter Welch/Dickey Loop - 31/Jan/98

By David Metsky

I was headed up north for a weekend of winter hiking. My plan for Sunday was to go up Lafayette with Brenda and Dave, but I had Saturday to myself. I was looking for a hike near I-93 because I was picking up Brenda at Loon at the end of the day, so I settled on the Welch/Dickey loop. It's a 4.5 mile hike with some nice view and above treeline travel. The lenghth and features make it a good recomendation for people getting into hiking so I wanted to do it myself so I could speak knowledgably about it. To get to the trailhead, take NH 49 six miles to Upper Mad River Road and then Orris Road. The lot was full of snow and had several cars, but I managed to slam my way in there and put on my boots and fixed up my pack.

You have a choice when you start out, and I choice to go counter- clockwise, over Welch first. Down low the trail wanders through some nice hardwoods and the snow was hard enough that I didn't break through at all. Leaving my snowshoes in the car wasn't going to haunt me afterall. After about 20 minutes I came to a sign which confirmed that this trail goes through some open and exposed terrain. From here the softwoods were growing in and it felt like I was gaining some altitude. The trail came out to a clearing with a tent off on the side. I could see the cliffs of Dickey that I would pass on the way down. There were some excellent views of the Sandwich Range just to the south of NH 49 and a clear shot east to the Tripyramids.

From here, the climb gets much steeper, heading up the bulge of the Welch summit cone. Someone had been up here with skis just recently and had had some fun on the snowfields. As I climbed up higher and onto the rocky summit area, the view of the Sandwich Range just got better. Once I got to the top I could see across to Dickey, just .5 miles away. It was quite chilly so I threw on all my clothes and grabbed my sandwich from the pack. Unfortunately, the store bought sandwich had gone bad :-( so I had to live on GORP and water. I was getting cold and the clouds looked much more threatening so I pushed on, down the steep but snowy trail to the col. It only took about 5 minutes, thanks to some great boot skiing, and the steep climb to Dickey only took another 15.

From the open summit of Dickey I could see back to Welch and beyond. I noticed a lone hiker following my tracks down and waved to him. It was the first person I'd seen all day on the trail. After about 10 minutes up there, I started back to the car. It was obvious that more people had come up to Dickey and turned around than had gone to Welch. The trail came down through lots of open snowfields that looked like they could be fun on skis. As I hit the cliffs, I met two women sunning themselves on the rocks on their way down. They were just enjoying the afternoon sun and soaking it all up. Below the cliffs are some nice ice flows. The rest of the trail is very pleasant open hardwoods that would have been fun on skis. Has anyone out there ever skied this trail? If so, drop me an e-mail. I made it back to the car and out the parking lot without incident. At Loon I met up with Brenda and her friends who also had a fine day.

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