May 2, 2022
Today's Sabbath Hike was on the Welch-Dickey Loop. In spite of being two peaks (Welch and Dickey) it counts as one hike for the "52 WAV" list. This is my 7th so far on the list. The trail is roughly 4.4 miles but one should expect to get a bit lost going up Welch thanks to the large amount of exposed rock ledging where the blazes (yellow) have worn off. There are a number of false trails on Welch where people thought they were in the right place, realized they weren't...and drift to the correct location. My one big suggestion comes from my experience with those ledges. Some of them are steep and could be treacherous in less-than-ideal conditions. Definitely go up Welch and down Dickey so that you are working against gravity on the worst bits. That said, be sure to pause a bunch and look behind. The views were constant.
I had a beautiful day for the walk. The threat of rain did not manifest until my drive home. I did--as you might have guessed--get lost a bit at various times on the open rock, but a combination of the map, the All-Trails app, and just keeping my head up pretty much did the trick. The first stop of import is an overlook on the way up Welch. Right before the view was a kiosk with a sign warning people (and their dogs) to beware the "crevice communities" living on the rock shelves. According to the sign "Crevice Communities are small pockets of vegetation that are uniquely adapted to thrive on the harsh conditions of rocky terrain on exposed mountain summits. They find footing in the thin soil in the crevices and depressions protected from the strong winds." The overlook had a fairly unique set of these communities so disturbing the vegetation is not a great idea.
In addition they put a number of logs around key areas. I respected them, of course, and took my time checking out the tenacious plots on the other side of the symbolic barrier. It was certainly a case of life finding a way. It was also a good reminder of our own obligations to live close to nature and understand our relationship with it. I am not entirely sure we learn that in the cities or suburbs where most people live. There may be a class from time to time. However, the way we move across the landscape and order our lives shows that we--influenced by our culture--believe nature is something to be managed or manipulated for our immediate benefit. The simple act of placing a log around a tiny ecosystem indicating to passersby that "this is not for you" may be the beginning of deeper understanding for some people. Of course, it may also just be ignored, right? Let's not be that guy.
I have been thinking quite a bit lately about how we interact with our environment and, frankly, it is depressing. That said, being out in the relatively remote environment of the White Mountains on the off-season was pretty darn restorative. I took my time and I suggest you do, too. The first overlook opens up a phase of fairly challenging hiking and scrambling, first to Welch and then through a lovely ridge filled with spruce trees and then up Dickey Mountain. Dickey's views from the top are pretty nice, but a bit underwhelming after what has gone before. That said, there is more to come! The descent passes over more open rock and more awesome views. Finally--after a ledge walk--the trail dips back into the trees for the walk to the parking lot. Looking back from the ledge one can see the giant bowl that makes up the loop itself.
The hike was awesome and I did not do it justice with the pictures here. I suggest you go try it out yourself. I will say that it isn't an easy stroll. The mileage is much shorter than--say--Mount Shaw, but that that means the inclines are steeper and in this case do require a bit of gumption. My knees hurt a bit when I got home and I used poles! I would also note that this is a very popular hike in-season so spring is a great time to get out there so you can have it mostly to yourself.