I wasn’t in desperate need of a hike on Saturday, but it was the last day of Yvonne’s school vacation so we opted for what we thought would be a relatively easy hike in the White Mountains. Since we had a place to stay near Campton, Sandwich Dome was a no brainer– very close by, not too long of a hike, and plenty of good views on the loop of the Sandwich Dome Trail and Drake Brook Trail. We may have been a little wrong in assuming an easy hike, though.
After briefly getting stuck in the parking lot, which hadn’t been plowed after a recent snow storm, we headed up the Sandwich Dome Trail. Snowshoes were on the whole way with crusty, half rotten snow underfoot. Even at eight in the morning it was already warm enough to hike in a tee shirt, and I quickly sweated through my base layers. This was going to be an uncomfortably hot day, I thought.
The Sandwich Dome Trail ascends steeply, and we were still sluggish from the beating we’d taken cross-country skiing earlier in the week, so the first miles dragged. We arrived at Noon Peak, a sub-peak of Sandwich Dome, to fine views of the Tripyramids and Sleepers, all with a fresh white coating. Apparently, the blizzard that hit us in Maine on our way back to New Hampshire had dumped quite a bit in the Whites as well.
The slow going continued up to Jennings Peak, another sub-peak with more ledges and close views of Sandwich Dome. By this point, we had to push through spruce and fir limbs that were so loaded down with snow that the clear part of the trail was barely four feet high. There was plenty of snow on the ground, too– a few trail blazes were barely a foot off the snow, though they must have been at eye level in summer.
We were tired enough by Jennings Peak to turn around and head down, but it was so early that we couldn’t justify skipping the main peak. Besides, the higher we went, the thicker the snow coating on the trees, which made for gorgeous scenery. And once at Jennings Peak, all of the hard climbing was done anyway. So on we went.
The last mile of the trail to Sandwich Dome was just beautiful, with rime-coated trees all around and fluffy snow on the ground. There wasn’t much for views of the mountains– the clouds had fallen over the summit– but the summit was pretty enough by itself. And with the relatively warm weather, we were able to stand around on the summit and have a properly large snack before descending. It was certainly colder than at the bottom of the trail, but still nowhere near as chilly as a normal winter day.
I was in bed around 8 PM, pretty well spent. By the end of the weekend, with another drive around the state and visiting family, I realized I’d driven about 900 miles over the course of Yvonne’s vacation week. That probably explained the exhaustion more than the few days of cross country skiing and the one day of hiking. All in all, it was a very full week. I’m kind of glad the vacation is over now, though, because I can settle back in at home and catch up on sleep. Not to mention finishing some app-related stuff, which I will announce shortly.