It being the start of foliage season in NH I was anxious to go peep some leaves.
Having been out to Zealand and a few other places, it looked like the foliage this year was either really late or just plain blah for some reason. Seemed like that was all the conversational buzz in North Conway ... that the foliage was kind of not what was expected so far.
Couldn't do anything about blah, but late ... the remedy for that is to go farther north. Hmmm ... maybe Waumbek ... Starr king Trail ...
Sunday I had a chance meeting with Tom Ryan ( and I was very pleased to see Atticus too - he's getting pretty grey but was sitting up straight in the passenger seat )
and I mentioned I was considering Waumbek as a possibility ... he said the col between Waumbek and Starr King was one of his favorite trail sections.
With a recommendation like that, the decision became much easier
Gallery / slide show
Yes, the 29th WMG and various blogs say not so much for views, but not having been there before I wanted to go look. And it seemed the best choice at the time. Starr King Trail sounded mellow, which suited me particularly fine , being a little tired from the Rocky Branch hike 2 days before.
It actually turned out to be pretty interesting. There were 3 more cars than I expected ( that is, there were 3 cars) at trailhead. It being Monday and a nice day I really thought Waumbek would be deserted. But it wasn't at all. I wound up counting 22 people, all pretty blissed out to be in the woods on such a nice day :)
As advertised, the first segment of trail ascends gently thru a pretty and open hardwood forest. Not a lot to say about it, an old stone cistern and wellspring were interesting. And there is a maddeningly tempting section that looks like there might be some views east off-trail ... but no desire today to go chasing a will o' the wisp. Onward!
The trail eventually switches to a conifer forest, dark and gloomy with the sun blocked by the ridge above. Hard to be as upbeat here. The trail passes a spring ( signed) and a rock perfectly fitted for a short rest - unsigned, you have to find it for yourself, and your fit may very :).
The trail is rougher in this section, but still good footing. Eventually the trail turns and is a bit steeper and then breaks out onto Starr King.
The WMG mentions a 'resticted view west' ; restricted is the operative word. Sigh.
Anyway, the view and pleasant little opening at the old cabin site ( cabin is long since gone, by the way) were better than I expected from the WMG description, so that brought my spirits back up to par.
After a short break ( no need to linger, I was coming back in a little while ) I headed over to Waumbek. Yup, wooded summit. Thank goodness I knew about the blowdown beyond the summit ! Lovely view from that spot. On arriving there, I found a party going on ... Waumbek, party of 10 ... a group was there hiking & celebrating with one of their buddies who was finishing the 48 on Waumbek. Quite a surprise to see so many people there, but a pleasant one - they were a pretty friendly group and it was fun chatting with them. And inspirational ... the finisher has had a recent knee replacement. Turns out another hiker ( who arrived later) has had a hip replacement. Did I mention inspiration? Everytime I trip and do a face plant or get a blister I figure that's it - over the hill, hiking career is over , waghgh... Huh. Knee replacement. Hip replacement. Still hiking ... Maybe I can eke out a few more seasons after all ....
So anyway, eventually everyone left and I was alone for a bit. I soaked up the view, took a few shots in the haze and then headed back to Starr King.
Tom's comments on the col were right, it is a pleasant cheery woods walk, and soon I was back at the Starr King cabin site. I hung out there for a while, had a snack and took a few more pictures. I knew this was the last good view, hard to not linger.
But ... eventually had to leave and headed on out. Actually met a few people headed UP ... it always surprises me to meet someone ascending in the afternoon. Personally I hate headlamp finishes
Turns out the best scenery was in the drive to & from. Waumbek overlooks a huge intervale, with a magnificent farm below it.
Can you picture working in the fields surrounded with views like this?
Sure must beat working in a mill!
On the way thru Crawford Notch I decided to stop at the Silver Cascade. Maybe the first time ever. I still had some appetite for photography after hardly taking pictures on Waumbek, so I spent a little time here before finally heading for camp ... great day!