Baldface Circuit (June 15, 2014) - 7 hours - Click on pictures to enlarge!

What better Father's Day gift than to go for a hike with my son. Alex is home from college this summer working at Bretton Woods and joined me for the Baldface Circuit hike. This is a beautiful hike and would be a classic except that it's so out of the way. No big deal though because I figured Alex would sleep in the car - he's been good at that ever since he was born. The Baldfaces would be anonymous 3.500 footers except for a fire in the early 20th century that cleared them of vegetation and gave them views. I can think of a few other 3.000 footers that would benefit from fire. The trailhead is the lowest in the Whites (530' so it makes for a substantial climb. We did the loop going up South Baldface and down from North. On the way we did a side trip to Chandler Gorge (left). Just above South Baldface shelter at 2,150' we broke into the open, climbing steep ledges “dangerous if wet or icy” (right).
I tend to put Alex in a lot of pictures - as I tell him, any picture looks better when he's in it. Here he is showing how steep the slabs are (left). I have a long hiking history with Alex in helping me climb all the 4.000 footers of New Hampshire (here he is climbing his 48th). The Baldface Circuit had special meaning because we had done it with Janice and Oscar back in 2003. The ledges are so steep that I'm very impressed that Janice did it. The view from the ledges is beautiful, spreading over the mountains of Maine and Evans Notch - but it's always important to check your cell phone! (right).
We got above the steep ledges and onto a broad shoulder of South Baldface (left) and the wind started howling. It was so strong as making hiking difficult - iconic White Mountains weather on steroids. Alex thoroughly enjoyed it (right). We met two hikers on the shoulder who decided to bail out, figuring the winds would only get worse further up. I openly wondered to Alex if we should bail out too but he would have none of it - "this is adventure!" To which I replied "as long as adventure ends well" - but that's the 56-year old in me.
So we climbed on to South Baldface (left) and the wind didn't get worse. In fact it calmed down a bit. We again saw two hikers at the top of South Baldface and they took our picture looking towards the Presidentials (right). Tuckerman Ravine was still full of snow.
From South Baldface we dropped into the col separating it from North Baldface and as soon as we got into the woods it was balmy and downright warm. We took time to admire the flowers, in particular the small rhododendrons (left) that I had previously seen that time of year at Owl's Head. The saddle from South to North Baldface was wonderful hiking, with ledgy footing and many views (right, to North Baldface).
Eventually we got to North Baldface and back into the wind (left), but it had abated some and it was easy to find shelter and enjoy the view (right).
At the top of North Baldface is an odd "fence" with string between poles to fence off vegetation but it's not clear what the purpose actually is. I like trail oddities so I took a picture (left). From North Baldface we dropped into Eagle Crag and then took the Bicknell Ridge Trail to complete the Baldface Circuit. This is a very scenic trail that provides views across to South Baldface down to 2,000' (right).
From there we dropped into the woods for the long descent down. At 900' we crossed Charles' Brook (left) and got back on the Baldface Circuit Trail. Alex did not remember much of his previous Baldface Circuit Trail in 2003 but he did remember Emerald Pool, just 0.1 miles off the trail. We paid it a visit and he jumped into the pool (right). I'm impressed by my kid - there's little to scare him. From there it was a short hike back to the trailhead.
It’s really great having Alex around this summer. The following weekend we worked on the Loop Trail around Mt. Washington Place in Bretton Woods (left, building a rock staircase) and caught dinner in the Ammonoosuc (right). Great father-son time! I'm so lucky.

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