Whiteface-Passaconawy Loop

By David Metsky

Map of trip

Elevation Chart of trip

This was the first hike of the season for me, and frankly, I wasn't really in good hiking shape. Andrew and I had a weekday off so we drove up early to Ferncroft, having a fun drive up in his BMW. When we started up the Blueberry Ridge trail it was still cool, and the hike was fine. Andrew was kicking my butt, so I let him go ahead (like I had a choice) and he waited for me on occasion. A short ways before the junction with the Tom Wiggin trail we met two members of the WODC volunteer trail crew. We stopped and helped out for a while, chatting about trailwork and a variety of issues of the day. They seemed to be having a great time, two guys who got together once a year to do trailwork and discuss literature. Fun stuff. Eventually we pushed on to the South summit ledges. Camp Heermance was gone, removed as part of the Wilderness Area cleanup. The signs said that Camp Shehadi was to be removed soon, and now (as I write this) is gone.

We hung out on the ledges, the views were OK, pretty hazy actually. The two trail crew guys showed up and we swapped stories about the history of the area and they showed us some neat details around the ledges. They were headed back down so we bade them goodbye and pushed on. I wanted a final picture of Camp Shehadi before it was removed, then we set out in search of the true summit of Whiteface. It's just the high point on the Rollins trail headed across the ridge, and it's pretty hard to spot, no sign or cairn. I'm pretty sure this is it. Nothing to see here folks, just move along. I like the ridge, the last time I'd been up here was in winter under much different circumstances. It was easy to pick out our camping site, the memory is pretty strong. We did visit the late, lamented Camp Rich as well, then climbed on up. There's a small spur trail to the Passaconaway summit, don't miss it. We stopped for a second lunch at the ledges, and watched a pair of A-10s dogfight and drop flairs and chaff. Interesting to watch.

For the trip down we chose to take the Walden trail to Wonalancet Range trail because neither of us had ever taken them. It's a bit longer and quite a bit rougher, we found out. I was begining to flag from the heat and being out of shape. Somewhere on the climb up the final peak on the Wonalancet Range trail I ran dry of water, but kept taking photos. At the very end, just before the parking lot, the trail runs along side a stream as another trail comes in on the other side. I was tired and thought the trail crossed the stream, so I ended up slipping off the rocks and right into the water, soaking my legs. Fortunately, we were practically in the parking lot already. The bugs were horrible, we had to run around the car and dive through the open doors. But once back in the car with the A/C blowing and the sunroof open, Gatorade in hand, tunes on the radio, life was good again.

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