Whiteface and Passaconaway


Fred Knight, Mike Pineault, Steve Sawyer, Scott Stuart

Panorama from View atop Mt Passaconaway (click for higher resolution) (or all the pics)
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After some planning and an evolving forecast for the high elevations, we decided on an 2-day hike to Mt Whiteface and Mt Passaconaway with tenting at the abandoned Camp Rich, just below the Mt Passaconaway summit. We had planned a hike from Crawford Notch to Marshfield Station with an overnight at the base of Mt Eisenhower. However, the forecast winds of up to 80 mph on Mt Washington and the exposed traverse at or above 4000′ from Mt Pierce to Lakes of the Clouds Hut argued for an alternative, with shelter from winds and still with challenges and good views of the southern Whites. A further potential complication was the expected snow in Boston, but we started just after it began and outdistanced the storm as we drove north.
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Our hike took the Blueberry Ledge Cutoff to Blueberry Ledges up the Mt Whiteface. There were a few sketchy locations on the ledges, but we got through them safely. Then we had the couple miles along the ridge from 4000′ down to 3500′ and over Dicey Mills Trail to the ascent to Mt Passaconaway. Just after we met the Dicey Mills Trail, we got to the location of Camp Rich, with a clearing but no shelter. The arrival was at 3:20, after 5 hours of hiking, and I welcomed the end of the day. We got down to setting up tents and getting dinner. A stream nearby provided water, and Scott and Steve got their stoves going to heat water for dinner. My Spaghetti with meat sauce from Mountian House freeze dried was pretty good, but I remembered my previous meal more fondly than I found this one. Still it was piping hot and good for 440 calories. Steve dined on macaroni and cheese; Mike on lasagne, and Scott on some of his varied menu, which included an evening adult beverage, shared to celebrate Burns Night.

We had two tents and my tarp arrangement. Everybody had a good, long night, after we turned in at 7:30. My new idea for piling snow on my bivvy did not work and was compromised more by the poor design than the lack of snow. The snow depth down to the icy crust layer was only 6″, so I settled for the uninsulated tarp over my Tyvex bivvy. The crossed tent poles holding up the tarp were insufficient to hold up the snow, so I settled for piling on the three sides and not on the top. As it was, I enjoyed a cozy night after I switched my sleeping bag to cover my head. Previously, I had wanted to keep it at my neck to allow free rotation of my head in my parka hood, but this proved too leaky. The new method was beautifully leak-proof, and I was very warm. (Mike’s suggestion!) The wind picked up during the night with some good gusts, but the forest around us provided good protection—much different than if we had been at the base of Mt Eisenhower where the wind would have been atrocious.

Our first day had high clouds, complete overcast, and some snow, just a dusting compared to the 5″ in Wayland. The second day was cooler, clear, and breezy—a super day in the Whites. We were back by 1pm and got a final view of Whiteface from the parking lot.

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Pics

See all the pics here.

Summary

A fun 2-day hike, ~13 miles, 3100′ rise, 2 peaks (Whiteface and Passaconaway), overnight at Camp Rich

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