Saturday, November 28, 2015

Mts. Wonalancet and Hibbard, November 26, 2015

Mt. Wonalancet (2,760') and Mt. Hibbard (2,940') via Wonalancet Range trail, November 26, 2015.

Mileage: 5.4 miles (descending via the Short Cut) 

Elevation gain: 2,031' 

Trailhead: Route 16 to Tamworth, left on Route 113, and right onto Chocorua Road for 2.9 miles.  Turn right on Route 113A East (Chinook Trail) for 5.6 miles. Ferncroft Road is on the right where the road takes a 90° turn (past a church). Drive .5 miles down Ferncroft, large parking lot is on the right. 

Mt. Hibbard is on the 52 with a View list (a list I'm not working on but you may be!). Note that the peak is not shown on Map 3 of the AMC 29th Edition map set but is situated north of Mt. Wonalancet and south of the Walden trail junction. (We used GPS tracks and summit photos and reports as well as overall distance to locate the peak.)

This route is a pleasant combination of some steeps and a whole lot of flats. 

Hiked with Jill and Ken today. Warmish temps and clear skies were forecast.  We enjoyed the mild conditions but unfortunately the higher we got, the thicker the mist and we missed that fabulous summit view. 

Parking lot at Ferncroft.  Trailhead is at the far end.

Trail continues past this gate.

Go left here, not over the bridge unless you want to take the long way.

The woods are open, really open due to logging years ago, with Spring Brook below quite audible during the first ten minutes (while hiking up several long switchbacks that bring you up a steep bank). 

The mist above hushed things around us; leaves on the trees were still and those on the ground before us damp and silent.

Open and flat - really mellow.

Heading up.

I wasn't sure what we'd encounter for conditions given the warm weather. There were a few areas of ice flows, easily negotiated via rough side bushwhacks. A layer of wet dribbled down them as they struggled to keep from melting.

 A bit icy here.

The areas of ice on the way up led me to believe the cliff area just below the summit of Mt. Wonalancet would also be icy - or at least wet from melt. 

We decided to chance it anyway, choosing not to ascend Mt. Hibbard via the Short Cut (essentially bypassing the bypass).

Didn't do the shortcut on the way up.

This part of the trail gets steeper and rougher (briefly)

I figured when I read "ledges" in other trip reports that there would be some rock scrambling. Not so, in fact the path heads up your run-of-the-mill exposed rock slabs, which today were dry and without ice.  Wet and icy would certainly complicate things here but don't assume this part of the trail will be icy just because there's ice below. 

Rock slabs just below Wonalancet's summit.

As we left the slabs and re-entered the woods we looked for a summit cairn or sign and didn't see either. Where was the Mt. Wonalancet summit? The only indication that we'd summited was the sign we saw just as the trail met back up with the upper portion of the short cut.

Guess we walked right over the summit!

Heading for Mt. Hibbard we continued up the Wonalancet Ridge trail in the mist. On the ridge we enjoyed a flat, leafy trail.

Old trees in open woods "field" on the ridge.

We ascended for a bit and soon came to a fork in the path.  We went left as it looked like the way to go and topped out on the summit of Hibbard.

Jill and Ken on summit in front of what we hear is a  nice view (not today).

The area looked like the photos I'd seen and it was the height of land but we couldn't avoid our second guessing.  We backtracked to where the trail split and there was a nice overlook (no view for us, of course).

Trail to the overlook.

We'd achieved our goal  - to summit Hibbard - and after a little lunch we headed down.  This time we took the Short Cut.

Icicles on our right.

Heading back down. Note the open woods.

The path is so mellow that occasionally we wondered if we'd ventured onto an old road - until we found another blue blaze.  Nice, mellow day!