Saturday, December 3, 2022
Start/End: Ferncroft TH
Elevation Gain/Loss: 4764′
Peaks: Whiteface, Passaconaway
After climbing Tecumseh, I drove the hour over to Ferncroft trailhead, stopping at Dunkin on the way for a snack and a bathroom break. The Ferncroft lot was perhaps half full when I arrived. I packed up my bag and headed out into the chilly ~40-degree rain.
The first few miles went relatively smoothly, but once I got up towards the ledges, conditions were challenging. The ledges were often covered in slick sheet ice that microspikes couldn’t really grip. I passed two young people with tiny string backpacks who were struggling and going slowly; I worried about them for the rest of my hike and my drive home.
I made the summit of Whiteface and then had even rougher conditions between the two peaks. The lighter rain became insistent and at least 0.5 inches of rain fell in only a few hours. The ice was beyond slick and much of the trail was under 3+” of water. I fell a few times but mostly kept my feet. My hands were sodden, despite mitten shells; it was raining so hard that no amount of waterproofing would hold up for long. It was also ~35 degrees actual and ~10 degrees windchill, so I was riding the razor edge of my comfort level. I kept up a hard enough pace to keep my hands warm until I made the summit of Passaconaway and swapped in a dry pair of gloves and mittens shells.
Then I descended as quickly as I could. Thankfully, that side wasn’t as icy and I ended up on bare leaves fairly quickly. The rain also tapered off and I got a bit warmer. I caught up to 2 of the 6 people I’d seen at the Passaconaway Spur trail intersection and beat them to the parking lot by 20 minutes. I quickly changed into dry clothes and then headed home.