Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Had part of the afternoon free, so I headed down to an old favorite on a cloudy day when the promised sun never materialized. There was only one car parked at this normally busy trailhead, and I saw no one on the trail today.

The lower mile of the Dickey side of the loop climbs through hardwoods, with lots of oak. With the bare ground, it looked like early November.

 Impressive rock step work.

The first ledge on the Dickey side is a good destination for a short hike (2.2 mi. round trip with 1050 ft. of elevation gain). Views include Sandwich Dome and Black Mountain seen beyond the south ridge of Welch Mountain.

The rocky summit of Welch.

From the top of the slab, you gaze up at the steep slabs on the south face of Dickey Mountain. My last time I here I watched skiers descending these slabs!

Looking back down the big slab, which dominates the SW ridge of Dickey.

I continued up the ridge, hoping to make the summit, depending on how icy the upper ledges were. Farther up, the trail started to get slick. I was able to pick my way around this ice on dry rock patches. If it gets to the point where fragile subalpine vegetation must be trampled to skirt the ice, I turn around.

At the big, water-streaked slab a quarter mile below the summit, some of the wet spots were starting to freeze over as temps had dropped into the 20s. Visually, it was hard to distinguish a coating of water from a glaze of ice. These ledges can be dangerous if icy; a slip could lead to a long slide. I had Microspikes with me, but didn't want to abuse them walking for hundreds of feet on rock. Stabilicers would have been the right tool for the job, but they were in the closet at home. So I turned around.

On the way back down, a view west to Mt. Kineo and Mt. Cushman.

A rare break of sun illuminating the top of Welch.

The mysterious stone circle of Dickey is found on the ledgy area above the big lower slab on the SW ridge. I've seen no definitive explanation of how this was created, whether human-made or natural.

Maybe a UFO landed here. The distant horizon reminded me of the mountains of Mordor. Must be the Hobbit movie is coming out soon.

A look across at the Campton Range before descending into the woods.


  1. This is a great hike. You captured an exceptionally beautiful moment in that second to last photo! Thanks for sharing.

  2. "If it gets to the point where fragile subalpine vegetation must be trampled to skirt the ice, I turn around." Steve, I wish that everyone who hikes in the Whites understood the what and why of your statement. Near Lakes of the Clouds this summer my brother and I saw groups of teens AND adult leaders trampling all over the delicate grasses in the area. Nobody had a clue. Heck, I've even been above treeline with friends who are unconscious about how to behave in those spots. Very frustrating.

    1. Steve,

      Thanks for your comment. I've seen the same thing up by Lakes, and on the summit of Moosilauke where the "lawns" are particularly inviting. It seems to be mostly a matter of awareness, or lack thereof.


  3. Great report on one of my favorite hikes, Steve. As usual when I read one of your reports, I learn something new. Although I've been up to Dickey several times, I've never seen the stone circle, nor did I know of its existence. Now I have to go back up and see it (not that that's a bad thing).

    1. Thanks, BC. I'd been by it a number of times before I somehow found out it was there. Definitely worth checking out.