Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Welch Dickey Hike

It doesn't seem like two peaks in the White Mountains of New Hampshire named Welch and Dickey would be anything to write home about, do they? Lots of mountains in this state are named after well known people, including an entire Presidential Range. Then there are the mountains named after wildlife, including a couple of Rattlesnake Ridges, in a state without any poisonous snakes.

Who were Welch and Dickey anyway? That question will remain unanswered for now. There are lots of websites describing this hike, but I couldn't find any explanation of these names. Then again, I didn't try very hard. Mr. Welch and Mr. Dickey will remain a mystery for now.

There were four of us ladies and two small dogs on this hike. Wanda, our intrepid leader, had originally planned an easier hike,but when only a few of us signed up she asked us if we wanted to try something a little more challenging, and we said sure.

We drove up to exit 28 on I-93. Not far off the interstate we found the trailhead. I was uncertain at first whether to let Harper off leash. I brought her favorite cat treats with me and stuck them in my pocket. I thought with another dog along she would probably be okay. After a couple of minutes I let her free and off she went.

She did great! She would run ahead, and then wait until we caught up. Occasionally I would call her just to remind her who was boss, and she'd come running right away to get a treat.

The four of us followed the trail up through the woods. At first it was just a nice trail heading up the mountainside. Our plan was to go up Welch first because it was easier to go up that way, and we soon found out why. About half way up Welch we started to run into these granite ledges and rock faces. We didn't have to do any real rock climbing, which is good, because I don't know how, but we did have to do some scrambling and occasionally squeezing through narrow places between the rocks. Andy, the miniature schnauzer, was a very experienced hiking dog, but there were a few places where he needed a boost. Harper only needed help once, but she had a couple of pounds and inches on Andy.

I on the other hand, didn't have too many problems physically, but my fear of heights got to me in a few places. We'd have to scramble or scoot up a rock face, and then walk along a bare granite expanse. It was the bareness, with the edge of the rock face disappearing into space, and the distant mountains beyond, that had my heart in my throat occasionally. Plus in some places the rock was wet and my hiking shoes started showing their age by slipping on the wet granite. Sometimes I ended up using all fours, or even scooting on my rear end. I had no shame!

We reached the top of Welch a little before noon, and contemplated stopping to eat lunch, but Wanda looked at the sky and suggested that it would be better if we continued on to Dickey before stopping. It looked like it might rain later and she thought it would be better to be on our way down if it did. It wouldn't be fun to be stuck on one of those bare granite ledges in a thunderstorm!

It was a short down and up again to get over to Dickey. We found a cool breezy stopping place and ate our lunches. It would have been wonderful except for the black flies. I had Avon Bug Guard slathered on me liberally, so they didn't bite me, but they buzzed and fussed around my head. They were very persistent and you had to be careful while you were eating not to accidentally injest a bug. They weren't fun, but supposedly they disappear later on in the summer. I hope so!

With storm clouds gathering we headed down the mountain. There were more bare rock faces and beautiful views of the Franconia Notch in the distance. We could see a rain storm coming closer too, but by some incredible stroke of luck we were back in the trees when it started raining. We stopped for a moment to put on our rain jackets and backpack covers. Andy even had a little hiking raincoat of his own, but I didn't think to bring one for Harper. Not long after we got ourselves all suited up the storm ended and we had to stop again to remove our gear cause we were getting hot.

Not long after that we were back at the parking lot. We piled our tired dogs into the back seat and before we were back on the highway they were sound asleep.

This was a very enjoyable hike, even with my moments of terror. Once we were off of the granite ledges I found myself forgetting how scared I had been and thinking that I'd like to do this hike again.

Of course I found myself thinking about hiking in Hong Kong. This hike boasted better weather for the most part, fewer steps, flies instead of mosquitoes. The views were easily just as beautiful too. Of course it wasn't as exotic as Hong Kong but it was pretty darn nice, and I'm eager to do more hiking in New England whenever I get the chance.

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