Welch-Dickey Loop (or, ‘Of Foliage and Kate’)
We tackled the Welch-Dickey Loop Sunday afternoon. Heidi and Stephen mentioned it to me ages ago as a great hike, and it promptly slipped my mind (well, remember that was back in the days when I didn’t have my dreamboat hiking buddy, Yen). We wanted to catch more foliage as the peak moves south, but we got a bit of a late start and decided we could only go into the edge of the White Mountains.
This was a fantastic hike. I recommend that you drop everything and go tackle it right now. But a word of caution: attack it counterclockwise.
What makes it so great? Well, it goes through a lot of different terrains in a relatively short area (they claim 4.4 miles, but Yen’s GPS said 5.3).
Sometimes you’re following a creek, then suddenly you’re on a ledge. Sometimes you’re among oaks and maples, and suddenly you’re up to your ears in jack firs.
You get a lot of views for a relatively small amount of effort.
But listen: don’t get me wrong. It’s a challenging hike. You’re scrambling around all kinds of rocks.
And once you hit the actual peaks, you’re going up rockface. It was really fun after Yen explained to me that (a) my shoes are more grippy than I give them credit for and (b) usually there are trees below you, so it’s not like you’re going to fall to your death. Extreme injury and pain, yes; but death, no.
But the best bits are where you’re climbing through cracks and crevices. I don’t know how the guy behind us who had a toddler on his back managed all this.
Check out this couple behind me. You really can’t see them all that well, so I will have to describe them. She is nice and trim, but maybe not terribly fit (where I am the opposite, of course: fit but not trim – it’s a hard life), and he has a cute little round belly. She had a curious walking stick that looked manufactured, but wasn’t really the sort of thing you’d buy on purpose. He had hiking poles. Neither of them seemed to have done anything like this before, and just about the time this picture was taken, she received a phone call that set off a long, loud conversation about mailboxes and keys and whether they should head home (he wisely explained that heading home would be harder than pressing on at this point). I thought they were a couple who had been away for a week, but Yen said there were clear signs that this was a very early date, and he was trying to impress her with his mountaineering skills.
Along about 5:20pm, Yen and I were nearly done and realized it was getting dark, and took off at a pretty mad clip (yes, of course I turned my ankle in the process – shut up about high-top hiking boots, Tanya), and arrived at the car at 5:50pm with serious dark gathering. We didn’t see them behind us, and given the rate we’d seen them keeping before, there was no way they made it down before full dark. We worried about them all the way home, and I feel pretty compelled to write a story about them. We shall see.
Our cuteness is off the charts. Don’t hate us.
Now, I’m going to admit to you that I was pretty nervous on the open rock faces (“Mmmm. Open rockface sandwich.”). I have it so deeply set in my mind that wet rock is always slick rock. I was absolutely convinced I was going to land on my bum every time I saw that the rock was wet. I don’t know, though. I guess that’s one of the virtues of granite – it definitely wasn’t slick (except where it is wet often enough that dark moss has grown on the rock).
Yen, though… The guy fears nothing and is sure-footed as a mountain goat.