Here I will share my travels throughout the majestic White Mountains of NH and also delve into some of the area's rich history and forgotten places. I do this in hopes of getting others excited about exploring these wonderful places.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mt. Liberty - 1/13/09

After finally getting a little snowshoeing experience on my trips up Indian Head and through the Flume Gorge, I felt ready to try one of the closer 4000 foot peaks. I decided on Mt. Liberty for a couple reasons, 1) It’s the closest peak, in fact I see it’s summit from work everyday, 2) It combines some nice, easy sections with some relentlessly steep calf-burning sections, and a little above treeline exposure to fully experience the winter elements, but it’s also an easy peak to retreat from should the weather turn sour, and 3) It has a great view (but it turned out to be a foggy day later on).

Pemi River seen from Whitehouse Bridge

I set off from the Whitehouse Trailhead parking area under grey skies but was still excited to finally attempt a winter 4000 footer. The trail was well packed so it made for easy snowshoeing. I was again caught off-guard by how unfamiliar this trail, which I had traversed twice already this past summer, looked when dressed in white.

Wintry scene on Liberty Spring Trail

The burning that starts in the calves on the steep section of the Liberty Spring Trail remained the same however, no matter what season it is, and I began to imagine how tiring it must feel to break trail on this particular stretch of trail. The tunnel of snow-laden branches that adorned the trail was a sight to behold.

The tunnel of trees

After reaching the junction with the Franconia Ridge Trail, the summit is only three tenths of a mile further and I came out above the trees not much later. The incredibly cold and fast wind that the trees had previously been blocking came out in full force up here.

The best view of the whole day, just above treeline

I added extra layers of clothing and marched on toward the summit, which was completely hidden from me, in the fog ahead. It was almost startling how fast the wind drifted snow, covering the tracks I was making almost as fast as I made them. The seriousness of the moment set in rather quickly as the summit appeared out of the fog much like the hull of the Titanic materializing out of the darkness of the ocean depths.

The "Titanic" summit of Liberty emerges from the fog

It was exhilarating to know that I was fully prepared to deal with these conditions that seemed so brutal, and even crazier still, I was enjoying it. I stood on the summit ledge staring into the fog from what is a very precipitous drop, not being able to see twenty feet in front of me but still enjoying the view.

A map of the route to Mt. Liberty; via Whitehouse, Liberty Spring
and Franconia Ridge Trails

See you next time!

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