MT. STARR KING & MT. WAUMBEK: 3/8/13
The snowshoe trek to Mts. Starr King and Waumbek in the Pliny Range is one of my late winter favorites. The moderately graded Starr King Trail leads through beautiful hardwood and conifer forests, and the views from both of these wooded summits have opened up considerably in recent years. On a 30-degree day with a high grey cloud deck, I parked in the designated area across Route 2 from Starr King Rd. and walked up that gravel road to the end of plowing, where I strapped on my snowshoes.
The snowshoe track had a few inches of partly broken powder on top, making for good 'shoeing. The lower half of the climb to Starr King leads through open hardwood forest, which becomes particularly fine after the trail wends its way up onto the broad SW ridge of the mountain.
There are some neat gnarled old trees in this mature stand.
At 2900 ft. the trail veers left and abruptly enters the conifers.
The 'shoeing was powdery along this mile-long traverse. Partway along I chatted with AMC trip leader Doug Hunt and a friend, who were descending from Waumbek. They left a beautifully packed snowshoe track in their wake.
Winter wonderland section approaching the summit of Starr King.
A scene to remember on a hot, humid day in July.
Just past the summit of Starr King, an over-the-trees view of the western Whites.
The main viewpoint at the old shelter clearing, which had become mostly overgrown in recent years, was opened up sometime last year by unknown parties. The Presidentials are once again in full view. Thomas Starr King, the 19th century prose-poet who wrote the classic travelogue, The White Hills: Their Legends, Landscape and Poetry, would have been pleased by this vista from his namesake mountain.
The higher Presys were cloaked in pure white.
The fireplace is all that remains of the old hiker shelter up here. Some friends and I spent a night in this shelter in 1979. It was removed soon after that.
From the top of Starr King, the trail meanders down through the beautiful open fir forest typical of the ridges in the Pliny and Pilot Ranges.
A great old blaze tree.
The trail dips to a low spot just below the Starr King-Waumbek col.
On the approach to Waumbek, a framed view of Hutchins Mtn. in the Pilot Range.
Beautiful up here! On the way to the summit I stopped to talk with Al Thompson, a store customer from Long Island who had driven up through a snowstorm to bag some winter peaks in the Whites. Waumbek was his 28th winter 4K.
The summit of Waumbek, a clearing in the woods.
The snow was fairly deep up here.
The view from a blowdown opening along the Kilkenny Ridge Trail 50 yds. east of the summit has really opened up. Wow!
Looking towards Mt. Osceola, Bretton Woods, Mt. Bond and the Twins.
East to the Carter-Moriah Range, with Mt. Pliny in the foreground..
King Ravine and Mt. Adams.
Whenever I visit Waumbek, I like to continue 0.2 mi. along the Kilkenny Ridge Trail to the mountain's east knob, which is only a few feet lower than the true summit. I followed the lonely tracks of an uber-hiker who goes by the name "Bombadil" on the Views from the Top forum. The day before he had broken trail from Mt. Weeks across to Mt. Waumbek through several feet of powder.
Love those Kilkenny Ridge woods!
With the deep snow of late winter, the east knob of Waumbek offers some interesting northern views.
Nearby is the huge rounded mass of North Weeks.
There's a fine view of Mt. Cabot with its great talus slope. The Horn juts out on the right.
Looking towards Terrace Mountain and Unknown Pond Ridge, with peaks in the Dixville Notch area on the horizon.
A peek at North Percy Peak and other summits in the Nash Stream region.
Back at the Starr King viewpoint, a bit of late day sun was starting to peek out, partly illuminating the sharply-etched peaks of the Whites.
Near the summit of Starr King was a look back at the two summit knobs of Waumbek.
This spot also offered a neat framed view of South Terrace, with its slide overlooking Willard Notch.
Back down in the hardwoods, I had an unexpected treat as the low orange sun lit up the forest with alpenglow.
If I hadn't started late in the morning on this hike, I would have missed this magical time of day.
A final burst of color as the sun dips to the horizon. A nice finale for what might have been the best snowshoe hike of the season.