11-20-2021 Parsons-Welsh Mountain

The summit of Welsh Mountain seen from the summit of Dickey Mountain. (ED PARSONS PHOTO)

Every November, I like to head over to Waterville Valley and climb Welch/Dickey, two small peaks with fabulous views from granite ledges. This is a highly popular hike, and late fall is a good time to avoid the crowds. This Thursday was a warm gift for those who like to get outside, and I drove over and climbed them.

Afterward, I stopped at the Museum of the White Mountains in Plymouth to see their latest exhibit, which I will mention after describing my hike.

There had been some ice buildup on Welch/Dickey before my visit, but it must have started warming the night before because by the time I got there it was essentially gone, and the consequent draining of water left many of the ledges wet.

It is wise to climb Welch/Dickey counter-clockwise. The steep ledges on Welch Mountain (2,598 feet) are best ascended rather than descended.

I started up the right-hand loop. In the mild air, I felt that this was where I wanted to be. In 0.9 miles, I reached the flat open ledge on lower Welch Mountain.

For 30 years, efforts have been made to preserve isolated areas of vegetation on the ledges at this location. It has been successful but required permanent signs about habitat restoration and fences blocking the sensitive areas.

I read the present-day signs and stayed outside the low log fence that had been placed there since my visit last year.

The view there is nice. On Thursday, the sound of the Mad River below rose up from below as I looked across to the bulk of Sandwich Dome. The clouds were giving way to sun, but moisture was in the air. I made out the Scrimshaw farm on the lower Sandwich Notch Road through the haze.

I continued up, avoiding wet ledge as the trail wound between confers. Arriving at the first steep and wide ledge, which the trail normally goes up, I saw it was wet and decided to bushwhack up through the stunted forest next to it.

That was an interesting variation. I took my time. Back on the trail and continuing to the top of Welch Mountain, I avoided wet ledge but didn’t need to repeat a scratchy bushwhack.

An interesting aspect of the view from the top of Welch is looking northwest across to the long pale ledge on the west ridge of Dickey Mountain, which is the descent route for the loop.

With the steep ledges behind me, it was much easier descending to the saddle between the two peaks, climbing to the top of Dickey Mountain and then descending the long ridge to my car.

On top of Dickey Mountain, Mount Lafayette to the north had some interesting lenticular clouds covering it. Descending the long ridge was a pleasure, especially walking down the long open ledge, in full view of Welch Mountain across a ravine.

Further down, the long descent on an oak leaf covered trail was relaxing.

That morning I had made a free online reservation for the Museum of the White Mountains at one p.m. I arrived at 1:30 p.m. The assistant director, Rebecca Enman, welcomed me at the front desk.

This photography exhibit is called “New Hampshire Now: Photographic Diary of Life in New Hampshire.” It is comprised of photos taken by 46 photographers over a three-year period. It is simultaneously being shown in various places around the state, and in each location some of the photos show what is happening in that specific area.

This one was geared toward a college audience, and included protests, the homeless, some great shorts of the mountains, as well as people doing their thing around the state. One that surprised me was a military burial of Tamworth resident David Eastman, helicopter pilot and silver star recipient during the Vietnam War. It took place at the veteran’s cemetery in Boscawen.

The exhibit was a refreshing pause after my hike. I recommend it.

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