Grabbing two or more peaks in one day seemed to be the new norm. I had planned to adventure with a hiking friend that I had met last week. Given that I heard the parking lot filled up prior to 8AM the previous day, I arranged a 7:30AM meet up time. This apparently was too early for my friend and there was not much negation in changing the time, so I opted to hike by myself.
https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/new-hampshire/mount-whiteface-and-passaconway-loop I used this to get me to the parking lot. Another hour or so drive. An 11.3 mile loop with 4,038 elevation gain.
The parking lot was basically full by the time I rolled up. I set off for the road, a bit of a flat road walk to start that quickly put you in the woods. I had planned to hike up Blueberry Ledge. I walked up the the trail junction and turned right. It said “Blueberry Ledge cutoff trail.” I didn’t even pull out my map but I had thought I picked the trail that avoids it… My calves were unbearably tight at this point. I tried to stretch and loosen them up. Only continuous walking in slight pain seemed to loosen them up and I was able to walk without discomfort.
This cutoff took me along a stream. There was another junction that took my over a bridge but I kept going straight. Eventually, you walked away from the stream and started to gain a bit of elevation. Even with the amount of cars in the lot, I was relatively surprised, I didn’t see anyone else on this trail. Another reason I thought I had gone the wrong way.
The trail continued up and led me to an open, granite rock space, where I heard other voices and passed some other hikers. I wasn’t exactly sure what they were doing but they weren’t on the trail. Once I walked by, they realized they were following a deer path.
From here, I begin to see more people. I still thought I had bypassed the blueberry ledge trail and my way was last technical and that’s why I finally caught up to people. The trail carried me up more stone steps.
Once climbing the steps/boulders, the trail exposed giant, granite slabs or ledges that I had to scramble and mildly rock climb up. After climbing up one, I realized there was an alternate way around… there was always a way around. This scramble in places was harder for someone vertically challenged but with a few exchanged words, I was able to make it up to the top…. well, what I thought was the top. I was feeling pretty fatigued at this point from all the previous day’s hikes and every time I thought I reached the top. There was more to climb. Thankfully, the views were quite forgiving.
I finally reached the top to enjoy the view and have a snack break. There was only two other people up there at the time. I happened to check Guthooks and realized, I wasn’t even at the top yet…. about 100 feet away. There wasn’t exactly views at the top.
I continued on to the actual summit and was headed for Passaconway next, which was looming in the distance. It always looks so much farther away than it actually is. It was a really nice, gradual woodsy walk compared to it’s brother Whiteface. I enjoyed it and was thankful for that.
The only climb or hardish part was reaching the junction and climbing up to grab the wooded summit. It was gradual at first with a switchback or two until the trail evolved into larger boulders that carried you to the top. The “top” was hard to decipher but I picked the wooded area that looked pretty packed down to stop for my sandwich break. A few other people joined me.
The rest was all downhill, literally. I opted not to do the .3 to the view off of the mountain. I heard it was all downhill and worth it but I didn’t want to add the .6 this trip. I just needed to stick to the plan. I got a few views coming down the side I did (it was a loop).
Descending from Passaconway was just as rocky/steep as the other side. Once you met back up with the junction it was pretty much smooth sailing. I walked pretty quickly. I stopped to drink some water at a water crossing and 2 groups of people had caught up to me. People I hadn’t passed all day. One decided some water was a good idea and I passed them when I was done. The other couple was just ahead and I was quickly gaining on them. I wanted “out.” The girl gave me a weird look when they stepped off the trail to let me pass. They preceded to follow pretty closely behind me, so the first chance I got I took off for a bit of trail running and soon left them behind. I was relived the trail had flatten out and I was relatively close to the car.
It was cool to look back at the parking lot and admire what I had just climbed.
I celebrated with more ice cream.
Arriving back at the house and sharing my hike with John and Declan, it was discovered that I indeed did climb up the Blueberry Ledge trail after all.