July 8, 2012. The end of a journey that started Labor Day weekend of last year. What a great ride this has been. From Fall to Winter and Spring and ending in the summer. I have seen all four seasons of the White Mountains while attempting to accomplish this goal. Something I never imagined I'd do, especially the Winter. Waumbek is one of the smallest 4K's on the list and the hike is probably one of the easiest and quickest. The trailhead is just off of Route 2 in Jefferson, NH and the trail is 3.6 miles to the summit crossing over Mt Starr King on the way.
The usual waking up time of 3:30 AM and out the door by 4:05. The skies are clear as I leave and I am hoping that this is the way that they are when I get to Waumbek. But as I get closer to Franconia Notch the peaks there are socked in and the clouds look ominous. My only hope is that once I get on the other side of the notch that the weather will be different. My wish is granted and at 6:30 I have arrived at the the trailhead to number 48! Fifteen minutes later and I am on the trail. It is an immediate climb along an old logging road and shortly after starting there are two separate stone foundations of some old springhouses.
As I continue up this old road in between the wells, sometimes buried and sometimes exposed, is the remnants of a rusty 1-1/4" pipe. I can only assume that this at one time connected the two wells. The trail is a continuous uphill and muddy climb for about half of the distance to Mt Starr King. Looks like this area of the trail could use a trail adopter as there is water on most of the trail making for a mud hopping adventure. About halfway to Starr King and the trail changes from a continuous incline to a gradual incline skirting around the side of the mountain. One spot is dark from the absence of sun and everything has that mossy green appeal to it.
A scant hour and twenty-five minute from starting and I come upon a small ledge/boulder that has a very small cairn on top of about a dozen rocks. Curious as to what this infers I climb up on top and it is the official top of Starr King marked with an elevation marker.
A few yards up ahead and another ledge offers a view of Garfield and Franconia Ridge. Just beyond this and I reach the fireplace of the old cabin. A quick search turns up nothing on this cabin.
A view of the Presidential Range is afforded at the old cabin site and Mt Washington is stuck in a cloud.
Off towards Waumbek I go and across the ridge between the two peaks. The ridge is a great short hike with one area open and sunny covered in ferns that are waist high.
Down into the col which is not very deep and then back up for the short one mile trip and I have finally finished. Number 48 is complete.
It is only 8:40 in the morning when I arrive and the feelings are mixed. It has taken a short 10 months to get here and sights too numerous to recall all of them. The beginning was on Tecumseh, a wooded summit with no views, and the ending on Waumbek, another wooded viewless peak (OK views are fifty yards down the trail in a blowdown section). I have accomplished what I set out to do and now it is time to begin preparing for my next adventure, The Appalachian Trail! Less than two years left til that journey begins.
Final numbers: 7.2 miles, 3 hours and 45 minutes, 1 peak, # of peaks to date - 48.