With such a nice day forecasted I thought this would be my last chance this year to make another run on White Ledge which Scott & I did back in May '09. The sky's were clear as we came to the White Ledge Campground where we would park at the gate. Unfortunately the entrance was not plowed and there was no place to park on the road. I pulled my trail book out and got the details to the secondary trailhead which starts across the street from the Pine Knoll Campground Sign. We parked on the side of this street and headed across Rt. 16 at 10:00am. The only sign at this spot is a sign saying "White Ledge Campground Ahead", the trail follows an old town road which starts between 2 driveways. The trail was not broken in which made for some tuff footing right off. We passed a house on the left and a cabin on the right before the road narrowed slightly and made it's was past a large boulder on the right.
We made it to the Loop trail at 10:30am. Unfortunately the trail wasn't broken in here either, the problem being we don't have snow shoes which would have made things much easier in the 4-6 in. snow cover. We followed the logging road grade, first gradual before climbing steadily up to the top of the bluff marked by a large clump of rock on the right, a boulder field on the left and an erratic just past this on the right. Now all that work climbing was erased as we made our way down the other side of this bluff, our ankles and feet frozen from snow getting into our boots. Snow shoes and gaiters would have been helpful! We thought about turning back but we were determined to make the loop.
The ledges now visible on our left we trudged on eventually turning left and up the North-East side of White Ledge. I had expected semi-bare rock and some ice on the ledges but we encountered more snow, getting deeper now, knee high in spots. The ledges on this side not being steep, hold right on to the snow apparently! Views now opened up North to the Moat Mountains, Cranmore, Peaked & Middle Mountains and a glimpse towards what looked like Crawford Notch and the Pemi Wilderness. After snaking our way through the various ledge areas we finally reached the White Ledge Head at 1:30pm. We took a much needed break and ate our lunch, views East into Maine at a dramatic, secluded mountain "clump" in the distance which I am going to guess is the Pleasant Mountain Range? We cleaned the snow from the boots and put our foot warmer insoles on that we keep in our bags for just such an ocassion.
Heading back down was nice. We crossed more ledge and views down to Ionna Lake and Whitton Pond. Our feet began to warm up now too, YAY! We soon came to the Chocorua view I was excited for! And even got a tiny patch of a rainbow to the left of it! We quickly decended coming down to the stream which was in prime photo condition with just enough ice to make the running water a photography heaven! Past this the woods open up and after reaching our trail junction made our way back down the road and reached our parking spot at 3:30pm. We barely, bare booted this loop! VERY EXHAUSTING!!
Pics of this hike here> http://www.flickr.com/photos/excape1/sets/72157623032737636/
Total Mileage - 4.3 miles
Elevation Gain - about 1400 feet
Time - 5.5 hours
Weather - 29-26 degrees all day, no wind / mostly sunny am. to mostly cloudy pm. / Snow 4in.- 1ft.