I had a glorious spring day for this classic ledgy 4.4 mile loop near Waterville Valley. It was a typical mixed bag of April conditions with plenty of ice, mud down low and posthole snow up high (more of these than I expected), and lots of sun-warmed bare ledge.
The first mile on the Dickey side of the loop was hardwood forest with bare ground!
This ice flow below the first outlook ledge is one of the last spots to melt.
It was great to emerge on the first ledge - the top of the impressive Dickey Cliff - in the strong spring sun
Looking down along the top of the Dickey Cliff. Great distant visibility today.
Looking up at the summits of Dickey and Welch.
The mysterious stone circle on the next ledge up the ridge.
I stopped for a lunch break a bit farther up, gazing west to Mount Moosilauke.
The vast slab on Dickey's south face.
Nearing the summit of Dickey, where there was deep, soft, postholed snow around a rotting monorail, I admired this view of Mount Wolf, the Kinsmans and Cannon, with Fisher Mountain in front.
To the west, Mount Moosilauke reigns supreme. Note the prominent ice cliffs on the headwall of Jobildunk Ravine.
At the summit of Dickey (2734 ft.), you look north to the many wild spurs of the Mount Tecumseh range.
Several peaks in the Sandwich Range sprawl off to the east: Scaur Peak, the Tripyramids, the Sleepers and Mount Whiteface.
A closer view of the Tripyramids and Sleepers. It was surprising to see the South Slide still snow-covered after a string of warm sunny days.
Sandwich Dome and its wide-spreading spurs.
Looking across at Welch with the Lakes Region beyond.
The "Tricky Dickey" pitch descending towards the col, near a geocache of that name.
Another look at Welch, quite a nubble from this angle.
In the Dickey-Welch col.
Layered slabs heading up Welch.
Soft-snow postholes are one of the "joys" of April hiking.
Looking back at Dickey, with Tecumseh to the right.
View of Sandwich from the brink of a cliff.
The summit of Welch (2605 ft.) commands a wide view to the west and a good look down into the bowl enclosed by these two mountains.
Welch is one of the few places in the Whites with a colony of the rare (in New Hampshire) jack pine. This one is thriving close to the edge.
There are a number of steep slabs to negotiate while descending off Welch. This is the biggest of the bunch. It's generally recommended to do the loop by climbing Welch first, as these slabs are easier to ascend than descend.
Sandwich rising above Acteon Ridge, one of its prominent spurs.
The summit of Welch seen from the lowest outlook ledge.
Islands of fragile subalpine vegetation are protected with wooden borders.
On the way down I made a detour for some hardwood bushwhacking up into the bowl between Welch and Dickey.
The nameless brook that drains the bowl was in pretty good flow.
It was wonderful to see a free-flowing stream after the long hard winter.
One of several attractive waterslides along the brook. The lower 0.8 mile of the Welch loop was unpleasantly muddy and icy, so I covered most of that distance bushwhacking through open woods along the west side of the attractive brook, a nice way to end a fine spring day.