Friday, January 20, 2012


A gorgeous winter day, sunny, twentyish, and light winds. A good day for a short hike up to the first open ledge on the south shoulder of Welch Mountain near Waterville Valley.

I was surprised to find an empty (and well-sanded) parking lot on such a nice day.

A familiar trail sign.

The brook crossing a short way in on the Welch side of the loop was fairly well-frozen.

The trail was a sidewalk of crusty snow - perfect for Microspiking.

This was the only nasty ice flow on the way up to the ledge. Thought there'd be more of this.

A trailside look at the nameless brook that drains the Dickey-Welch bowl.

Neat boulder beside the trail.

Where the trail makes a right turn at about 0.9 mi., the cliffs on the SW ridge of Dickey can be seen up through the trees.

Tread lightly on the ledges.

The final approach to the big flat ledge at 1.3 miles.

Major revegetation efforts have been ongoing up here.

The revegetation areas are well-delineated.

Looking back to the Dickey SW cliffs. The Dickey side of the loop runs along their top edge.

For a short hike with an 800-ft. climb, this ledge on the south shoulder of Welch rewards with fine views, especially looking up the Mad River valley to the Tripyramids, with Scaur Peak on the L and the Sleepers on the R.

A closer look at the Tripyramids and West Sleeper, with the long ridge of Snows Mountain below. You get a good angle on the Tripyramid South Slides from here.

Looking up at Dickey (L) and Welch (R).

The big snowy slabs of Dickey.

The steep, ledgy south face of Welch.

The huge spread of Sandwich Mountain seen across the Mad River valley, with Acteon Ridge below in front.

Sharp Jennings Peak and the summit of Sandwich. Ledgy Sachem Peak is below the summit.

The two Black Mountains - the massive shoulder on the L is the Black Mountain traversed by the Algonquin Trail, with many great views. The lower peak to the R is also called Black Mountain and has a good view ledge accessible by a fairly short bushwhack. The Algonquin Trail comes up into the col between them. The dark ledge-spotted hump in front is Bald Knob at the lower end of Acteon Ridge.

Rocks and oaks along the trail just beyond the Welch ledge.

The flat expanse at the brink of the ledge. With bright sun and little wind, I was able to spend an hour up here, part of the time chatting with a local couple who were the only other hikers I encountered.

Afternoon light in the hemlocks on the way down. This short hike is highly recommended in winter, and has no steep and potentially tricky sections like those found on the upper cone of Welch.


  1. Oh, man.

    First time I was up there was the day after Thanksgiving, 1998. My son was 7 years old, and despite the conditions, I kept climbing up. He wanted to turn around, but I wanted to climb the mountains, so I insisted we keep going. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

    We lost the trail twice, although the place seemed to be crawling with other hikers. Some of them helped Cam get up a particularly icy ledge that if he had ever slipped off of would have been the end of him. He would have just been over the precipice and gone.

    We made it to the top of Welch, and I felt it was too risky to go back the way we’d come, so onward to Dickey we went. We mistakenly followed some footprints down a long ledge just after summiting and the trail, of course, disappeared at the bottom. I was really getting worried by this time, and even shouted for help, but there was no one to hear.

    I realized we would have to go back up, which was difficult, but once we did I saw a cairn — the trail! — and we were home free, except that Cam’s gloves were wet and his hands were cold and we still had several more ledges to traverse, including that real big one with the scary drop-off on the left. That one also had a line of icy footprints along the top, and the sun was right on the horizon as we walked along, but once we were back in the woods we just hustled as best we could and got back to the car before it was too dark to see.

    No wonder I was spooked for years afterward whenever I’d read about some mountain I wanted to climb which had a steep ledge.

  2. Wow, Raymond, that is quite a tale! Thanks for sharing. If there's ice present, Welch-Dickey can certainly have its scary moments.


  3. Excellent choice for a short hike in winter, and especially with the type of winter we've been experiencing! As your photos demonstrate, you were blessed with some good viewing conditions, which recently seem to be in short supply. And wow . . . what a surprise to find the trailhead parking lot completely empty, especially on a good-weather day!

    Thanks Steve for another report that was not only enjoyable to read, but also instructive in terms of the peak identification notations included in your text!