Summer Solstice Whiteface/Passaconaway Loop

By David Metsky

This hike was organized by Eric, as part of his regular summer series of hikes. He had posted a notice on the GO New England message board of the entire slate of summer hikes, and several people had come, plus the usual suspects. Our objective for the day was a loop over Mts Whiteface and Passaconaway, although not everyone was up for the whole thing. In a bizarre summer soltice tradition (that I suspect Eric just made up) we were supposed to have herring and potatos on the summit. I don't ask, I just hike.

We carpooled as best we could, gathering about a dozen folks at the Ferncroft Rd parking area. There we were greeted with a sign informing us that Camp Rich was no more. I wanted to make sure we visited there so I could see the wreckage of this fairly well abused piece of White Mountain hiking history. We headed up the Blueberry Ledge trail, a pretty standard route for Whiteface. The bottom is mostly nice woods walking, and since many of this group didn't know each other it was a good time to get aquainted. At the intersection with the Wiggin trail I noticed some bear sign about 5 feet up a nearby tree. The section from there to the summit involves going up some ledges with bare rock, but everyone made it with ease. You even get a fine view of Mt Chocorua in one place. At the top of that section, right before the summit, is Camp Heermance, one of the three (now two) shelters maintained by the Wonalancet Out Doors Club in the area.

The summit ledges of Whiteface were pretty much empty except for us. We rested and drank water, eat our lunch, and followed it up with herring and potatos, an occasion laden with significence for the assembled throngs. Then we pulled out the maps and tried to figure out what we were going to do. One person opted for a trip back down Blueberry Ledge, but the rest of us decided to push on to the Dicey's Mill trail, at least, with the possibility of going up Whiteface. It's pretty hard to identify the exact summit of Whiteface, the Rolliins trail leaves the ledges, passes Camp Shehadi, and climbs again. Somewhere after that is the true summit, but we must have passed right by it. I don't remember ever seeing a summit cairn on several trips there.

The ridge connecting Whiteface to Passaconaway is nice hiking, in the woods the entire time with occasional views towards Passaconaway to break up the greenery. We hit the Dicey's Mill with plenty of time. Here we split again, with the non-peakbaggers headed down and rest of us grabbing one more summit. On the way we passed the late, lamented Camp Rich, now with much less headroom. Along the way to the summit we lost Kyjie, the Wonder Pooch but after Eric yelled for a while he showed up again, wondering what all the fuss was about. The summit of Passaconaway is 50' off the trail on a little side path, just a pile of rocks in the woods. There are views from the ledges just beyond. The trip down was uneventful, and we all gathered at the cars and decided to hit the Common Man in Ashland for a festive post-hike dinner. Yum.

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