Since recently being adopted by our two next-door neighbor nine-year-old twins, Janelle and Aaron, we’ve found ourselves adapting our outdoor activities to accommodate them.
This has been a new and challenging sort of adventure – finding proper gear that fits, testing the limits of what a nine-year-old can do (turns out they can do a lot!) and generally re-thinking the way we approach a trail, a valley, a mountain.
It’s slowed us down, but for the better. Having completed the 48, we’re not so peak oriented anymore. And having the kids with us has been a joy to rediscover mushrooms, and trees and shiny rocks and fungus, oh Lord, how kids like fungus!
Janelle is ambitious and decided that she’d like to work on the 52 With A View list, something well within her ability and great way for Meena and I to hike casually and explore a new list of mountains for the sake of exploration. It’s brought us back to nature and the outdoors in a way that’s added to our appreciation of the Whites.
So, on Sunday, we brought the kids to Dickey-Welch Mountain in Waterville Valley. The weather was a perfect mid-40s, light wind, little ice and a real chance for the kids to experience a variety of hiking terrain from ledges to climbing, from forests to boulders.
Dickey-Welch is one of our favorites as well, a quick 4.4 miles that, in the winter, can offer just as great a hiking challenge as many much bigger mountains.
Joining us was our friends Steve and Neil, who brought along Maggie and Phil the Wonder Dog.
Steve and Neil moved much faster than us, so in no time they were off on their own, enjoying the beautiful day.
We moved at the kids’ pace, enjoying the day, rock hopping, making up new video games about the outdoors and generally exploring every nook and cranny along the way.
We hiked counter-clockwise. The Loop Trail is in excellent shape, a little mud in the first half mile or so, but nothing that isn’t easily by-passed. There’s some ice in the col between the two humps, but again, nothing that can’t be avoided easily. The hardest part was the final half mile, mainly because the leaves were so thick on the trail they sometimes covered rocks and other obstacles underneath.
Upon reaching the first ledge, we all settled down for a nice snack of hot chocolate and trail mix. Aaron decided this was far enough for him, and so Janelle and I headed up the mountain while Aaron and Meena enjoyed a picnic and the fine walk back down.
Janelle (aka Tough Cookie) lived up to her trail name, powering up the enormous ledges like she’d done this a thousand times before. The ledges were mostly dry and with no wind it was easy to warm up and enjoy the views.
At a few spots, she needed a hand up, but mostly she scrambled like a monkey and had no problems with the trickier rock hops. She particularly enjoyed the split boulder crawl and even got through it faster than me.
At the top of Dickey, we had lunch and had the summit to ourselves until Janelle shouted, “Oh my gosh, look at that!” And much to our surprise up rode two guys on mountain bikes! We were both duly impressed. They guys were really nice and took the time to explain the types of tires they use to do this sort of thing and that they carry the bikes over the harder parts. It was a real eye opener for her to see a whole different type of outdoor obsession!
We stopped again for snacks at the top of Welch, and again on the ledges west of the summit. Again, right now that trail is in great shape with no ice or snow and no blow downs.
All told, we did the loop in 5 and half hours and Janelle got to check mark her second summit on 52WAV. Her first was Kearsarge.
A great fall hike! We’re looking forward to many more and are thinking about Cardigan for her first 3,000 footer!
For all the pictures from the day, stop by our digital photo album: http://danandmeenakshi.phanfare.com/5361120