Category: Trip Report

Trip Report – Franconia Ridge

Destination: Mt. Lafayette, Mt. Lincoln, Little Haystack
Date: 2-22-2015
Route: Falling Waters Trail, Franconia Ridge Trail, Greenleaf Trail, Old Bridal Path
Elevation: 5,260′ / 5,089′ / 4,760′
Distance: 8.82 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,508′ (approx.)
Time: 8:22 Hours
Equipment: Snowshoes, Light Traction

Report: Snow was excepted the night before our hike. Anticipating this, we headed up to Littleton Saturday evening. By the morning, about 5-6 inches of snow had fallen at lower elevations. The roads had been plowed, but the Lafayette trailhead parking lot was not yet cleared. The weather report was calling for promising conditions including milder temperates, light wind, and moderate cloud cover. We put on snowshoes and started heading up the Old Bridal Path, planning to ascend to the ridge via the Falling Waters Trail. We were the first people on trail, so I started breaking trail through about 5-6 inches of loose powder. As we ascended, the snow deepened and our pace slowed. Approaching the tree-line, the snow was very deep at 12-18 inches in some places. We finally reached the summit of Little Haystack a bit tired, and without having seen another person.  Thick clouds were rolling in reducing visibility significantly as we discussed if we wanted to continue across the ridge, or head back down the Falling Waters Trail. Thankfully however, just as were were deciding on what to do, the cloud cover lifted, and a hiker appeared coming up the Franconia Ridge Trail from the opposite direction. He told us that he had spent the night camping just below the tree-line on Lafayette, and had come across the ridge that morning. We let him know he was completely crazy, but none-the-less, we were inspired and decided to continue across the ridge.

As we made our way from Little Haystack to Lincoln, the ridge was in-and-out of the clouds for a bit. Finally, the clouds vanished and we were treated to fantastic views of Lincoln and Lafayette. Overall the ridge was mostly clear of snow, only small drifts in places. We saw another hiker and her dog pass us making a great pace. We reached Lincoln and stopped for a quick break and photos. We stayed in snowshoes until we decided to switch to microspikes to go down the chimney coming off of Lincoln. The ascent of Lafayette was easy enough and were treated to dramatic views across the ridge.  Winds were relatively mild, and the sun was shining.

Descending Lafayette via the Greenleaf Trail we saw several climbers in both spikes and shoes. It was early afternoon by then, and the skies and completely cleared. Despite the the wind, we were almost a little warm in the direct sun (which is very strange to say at 5000′ in the middle of February). We reached the tree line and switched back into snowshoes for the remainder of the trip. By that time, the Greenleaf Trail has been pretty well packed by many hikers heading up. We made it to the hut for another break before making a fairly rapid decent via the Old Bridal Path. The skies remained clear and we were able to get several great views along the Old Bridal Path.

Overall, it was pretty epic hike. The weather turned out better then we could of possibly imagined, making our hard work breaking trail up the falling waters entirely worth it.

Trip Report – North & South Hancock

Destination: North & South Hancock
Date: 1/18/2015
Route: Hancock Notch Trail, Cedar Brook Trail, Hancock Loop Trail
Elevation: 4,420′ / 4,319′
Distance: 8.95 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,650′ (approx.)
Time: 5:36 Hours
Equipment: Snowshoes

Report: We arrived at trailhead around 7:40AM after staying overnight at the Historic Thayer’s Inn, which is about 35 minutes from the Hancock Notch trailhead.  The weather called for rain beginning around 1PM so we made an effort to get an early start. We arrived at the trailhead around 7:40AM and chatted for bit with an AMC group that was planning on heading up both peaks as well.

After crossing the highway from the parking lot to the actual trailhead we put on our snowshoes. We could of used light traction as the trail was hard packed, but we were hoping to get some more experience with the snowshoes, and a very nice snowshoe track had been set that would of been a shame to tear up with boots.

The approach along the Hancock Notch and Cedar Brook trails was pleasant. Water crossings were mostly snow-bridged over. We reached the Hancock Loop trail without seeing anyone else and eventually made it the split where we decided to head up North Hancock. While I had read the trail description, I couldn’t remember which way was easier so I took a guess. Overall, heading up the north peak was steep and increasingly windy as we approached the top. For the most part, the trail was hard packed with some minor drifts approaching the summit. Unfortunately, there was no view what-so-ever as the summit was entirely in the clouds. We reached the summit where we snapped a few pictures. We didn’t bother going to the outlook, given the lack of view and strong winds, and instead made our way below the tree line for a quick snack and a rest.

After a short break, we headed out along the ridge trail. The decent from the north peak was a little steep. We came across another hiker and her dog headed in the opposite direction, and then another pair of hikers a few minutes later. After some time we came across the AMC group who was coming down off the south peak. The walk along the ridge was nice, with a few minor ups and downs. We reached the south peak and stopped again for a few minutes for pictures and rest before heading down the south peak side of the trail.

The south peak trail was much steeper then the north side. It was very slow going and was quite difficult. After struggling for 10 or 15 minutes I was startled by a hiker yelling as she came up from behind me doing a butt-slide down the mountain. She was quickly out of sight and looked to be having a lot of fun. We carried on at a snails pace for a few more minutes before finally deciding that the butt-slide was the way to go. Laura went first and I followed. It was awesome, and made quick work of what would of otherwise been along and painful decent.

The trail finally leveled out enough where we could no longer slide, but we soon reached the intersection with the north peak trail and made our way back towards the Cedar Brook trail. We passed a few hikers heading up. As we made our way down the rain finally hit. It really started to pick up after we re-joined with the Hancock Notch Trail. By the time we were about 1/2 from the trailhead, we were both pretty soaked. The trail was starting to get a sloppy because of the rain and boots. Water crossings were fine, but starting to look a little sketchy.

Despite the less the ideal weather, it was overall a great trip. We had a ton of fun and bagged two 4000 footers!

Trip Report – Mt. Lafayette

Destination: Mount Lafayette (Attempt)

Date: 12/26/2014

Route: Old Bridal Path, Greenleaf Trail

Elevation: 5,249′

Distance: 8.0 miles (approx.)

Elevation Gain: 3600′ (approx.)

Time:  6 Hours (approx.)

Equipment: Light Traction

Trip Report – Mt. Moosilauke

Destination: Mount Moosilauke

Date: 12/14/2014

Route: Glencliff Trail, Carriage Road

Elevation: 4,801′

Distance: 7.8 miles (approx.)

Elevation Gain: 3100′ (approx.)

Time:  6 Hours (approx.)

Equipment: Light Traction, Snowshoes not necessary

Report:

We drove up Saturday evening and stayed at the lovely Historic Thayers Inn in Littleton, NH where we received a great rate (thanks Groupon) on a comfortable, if very slanted, room. The plan was to get an early start up Moosilauke via the George Brook Trail.  After some consideration we decided that since Ravine Lodge Road was closed, and we were not in the mood for the extra 3 mile road walk, we would change our plans and head up the Glencliff.

The following morning we got up pretty early and were able to hit the road before the sun was up. It’s about an hour from Littleton to the trailhead. Unfortunately we were detoured several times and didn’t end up hitting the trail until around 8:45AM. Regardless it all worked out because the hiking was great, and a later start turned out to be to our benfit. It was a truly beautiful day to be on the mountain. All the tree branches were covered with snow. Weather was cool, but not too cold. Some cloud cover, but it cleared as the day progressed.  We wore microspikes as the trail was mostly hard packed. We passed one other couple and a dog going up the Glencliff. We also met a solo hiker coming down about 1/4 mile from from the junction with the Carriage road. He let us know that the conditions were great up there. After reaching the Carriage Road junction, we put on extra layers, and may our way the last 0.8 mile to the summit. Above the tree line the wind picked up a bit and it was chilly, but beautiful. Lots of rime covering the branches and rocks to the point where you couldn’t tell the difference between a tree and a cairn.

We reached the summit around 12:45. Another group of 4 and their dog arrived at around the same time as us. They had come up the George Brook. We snapped a few photos and headed back down. I also decide to put on my snowshoes mostly because they were new and I wanted to give them a try. We made it back to the junction and then made a very speedy decent. We passed several people coming up as we were coming down, some were wearing snowshoes which may of been helpful as the midday sun was loosening up the trail.  We reached the trailhead around 2:30PM.

Overall, it was a great day on one of best peaks in the Whites.

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