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Wonalancet Range Trail -> Walden Trail -> Old Mast Rd

I've shaken my head more than once at some of the easily avoidable situations people get themselves into.
But every once in a while I do something dumb, not by accident you know, but to remind myself of the value of humility ...

Gallery / slide show



I couldnt decide at all where to go hiking Sunday. Actually, I didnt care where - or whether - I went; way too focused on the project I had going on Saturday. So the choice fell to The Lovely Virginia. She proposed a loop over Mt Wonalancet. No problem, I'm usually pretty happy with her choices, so that was set.

Ferncroft is a popular trailhead, but still I was surprised to see how many people were out on this cloudy day ...



The map looked like the less steep descent would be coming down the Walden trail. This actually is correct - on average. So we chose to go clockwise.

The Wonalancet Range Trail is moderate until just past a stretch of boulders; always good footing except a little attention required in the boulder field. Then it becomes steeper.  After the junction with the shortcut, it becomes quite steep, but except for one ledge crossing there are always good spots to step. The ledge is not terrible, but is sloped and open, could be a bit of trouble if wet or icy.

The view was rather limited due to the clouds, but still interesting....



From Wonalancet to the Walden Trail junction the WRT was well decorated with bear scat. We saw a few outlooks, but all clouded in. No bears. Still, a pleasant walk in the woods. We met a couple guys who were blissed out, having spent the night at Camp Rich and gotten up to see the undercast from Passaconaway.

The Walden Trail continued in this vein, with the decor switching from bear to moose. I kept expecting to see one or the other, but perhaps they were hiding from the weekend hikers ...

Eventually the Walden Trail became a steep descent. But the footing was good, steps in some places. A few of the steps were canted, making them a bit challenging in places, but no big deal. But ...

Old Mast Road I knew would be easy, and I'd been on the Wonalancet Range Trail. I'd also been on the Walden Trail between the WRT and Passaconaway. But. Not the section of the Walden Trail between WRT and Old Mast Rd. Hey, how bad could it be? Running late to meet at trailhead. No need to read the AMC White Mountain Guide. Doh.

This was the dumb part. Having not read The Book I completely missed this bit :

" ... including one especially tricky wet broken ledge ...".


So we wound up descending the worst section of that loop, on a nice wet leafy day. At least it wasnt ice. It wouldnt have been that big a deal ascending, but I found descending this ledge to be wonderfully focusing. It's about 20 ft of chipped and broken ledge where if you slip ... well, better to not dwell on that ...
I didnt even take any pictures ... just too focused on getting past it.


Fortunately, we managed without serious mishap, and almost as importantly, TLV didn't berate me for my reading lapse :)
Note to self: RTFWMG. Every time. Duh.

After the scary ledge there are a couple sections where care is required but not particularly scary, these are 3 and 4 foot sections where there isnt much in the way of steps.

Old Mast Road trail out is probably the most dangerous, you could die of boredom on the seemingly endless trail ... but the treadway is clear, slope is gentle, an easy walk out. There was so much yellow in the woods I was glad the clouds muted the light. If the sun had been out, it would have been just too bright!

So ... no spectacular views, but a quiet walk in some pretty woods with TLV, and a couple ledge scrambles for excitement. Not a bad way to spend the day at all.


 

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