Tuesday, March 20, 2018


Starting late morning to let things warm up a bit, I snowshoed Champney Falls Trail, then climbed over snowdrifts to the top of First Sister. It was a cold and windy but spectacular day with 90-mile views.

The late winter snow and cold has closed Champney Brook back up.

Skiers had carved turns down the trail.

Snow depth at 2500 ft.

A skier had some fun in the glades.

Open glades at the top of the first switchback.

First Sister in sight ahead.

The upper pitch on Champney Falls Trail, which had a well-packed snowshoe track.

Viewpoint spur at the top of the trail.

Approaching the view ledge.

Looking west to the Sandwich Range.

The gleaming Presidentials.

Mt. Carrigain and the Nancy Range.

Looking up at First Sister. It was too cold and windy to stay out on this ledge for more than a few minutes.

Drifts ascending First Sister. The only tracks headed up this way (on some approximation of the route of the Middle Sister Trail) were from a lone skier.

The high peaks of the Sandwich Range.

Heading up more hard-packed drifts (though some were soft and deep, with spruce traps lying in wait).

Summit of Chocorua with Silver Lake and Ossipee Lake in the distance.

Approaching the summit.

Chocorua and the distant southern view, extending as far as Mt. Monadnock.

Summit of First Sister.

Western view. The Sisters, along with Mt. Chocorua itself, are among the best viewpoints in the Whites. Some 32 NH 4000-footers can be seen from First Sister.

A cold-looking Mt. Washington. Winds gusted to 75 mph there this afternoon, and my stay at the summit of First Sister was brief.

Middle Sister with its Forest Service radio repeater and old fire lookout foundation.

The horn of Chocorua.

The south side of First Sister was somewhat protected from the wind, allowing for a half-hour sit-down break in the March sun.

On the way down I made a short bushwhack out to Chocorua's broad, gentle NW shoulder, a favorite spot with its open hardwood and birch forest.

Plenty o' snow out here.

Forest and mountain scene.

Returning to an empty parking lot. After passing three downbound hikers (one of whom stayed overnight in Jim Liberty Cabin) in the first mile going up, I had the mountain to myself.

Saturday, March 17, 2018


An afternoon hike turned into a fine alpine experience up on the ledges - midwinter conditions with deep powder and gusty northwest winds.

Nice hemlock forest down low. The snowshoe track was soft and choppy.

 The only other hiker I saw was a Holderness School teacher who runs the Welch-Dickey Loop almost every day. It was a tough run today with deep snow up on the ledges.

Jennings Peak, Sandwich Dome and Sachem Peak from the first view ledge.

Tripyramid and West Sleeper.

The big south ledge of Dickey.

Looking up at Welch, Dickey and the south ridge of Dickey.

View along the steep face from a ledge south of the main view spot.

Blue sky and deep powder.

Heading up the trail past a nice framed view of the Sandwich ridges.

One of Welch's claims to fame is its extensive colony of Jack Pine, a rare tree in New Hampshire. This area was burned in a forest fire around 1820, and the fire-dependent Jack Pine likely colonized afterwards.

Looking up the big steep slab at 2200 ft. The snow conditions were ideal for going up and down this huge ledge.

Looking back down at the first view ledge with the Campton Range on the horizon.

A WVAIA arrow points the way.

A tight squeeze with snowshoes and a big winter pack.

Through the crevice we go. There is a bypass, which I used on the way down.

On to the expansive upper ledges of Welch.

Wild terrain.

Looking towards Sandwich Notch.

The snow was soft and deep up here, and there was some serious trail breaking through the drifts.

Open and windswept.

The Welch summit ledge.

Dickey Mountain.

Had to dig into the pack for multiple layers to ward off the wind.

A summit Jack Pine.

The ridgecrest is a narrow spine. I had my first-ever experience stepping into a Jack Pine trap. I had climbed Welch in winter before, but never on snowshoes.

Looking down at the great south ledge of Dickey.

Snow blowing off the trees.

Southern ridges of Mt. Tecumseh.

 Dickey Mountain across the notch. Having had enough of trail breaking through the drifts, I opted to return down the Welch side and take advantage of my tracks.

Heading down after a chilly half-hour summit stay. It was great fun plunge-stepping through the powder.

The runner's tracks and my snowshoe tracks on the big slab.

Lower down I enjoyed some off-trail forays into the soft powder.

How often do you see this at Welch-Dickey on a Friday?