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, April 21, 2009

Franconia Ridge - 4/13/09

Since finishing the 4000 Footers, I’ve been really excited to get back to a certain few places. The Franconia Ridge was at the very top of this list. The first time I was on The Ridge (May ‘08) it was on a very cloudy day. In fact once above treeline, I couldn’t see much of anything, especially not the views I'd heard so much about. So with the goal of soaking these sights in, I set off on a bright, sunny morning with hardly a cloud in the sky.

After getting geared up in the parking lot I set off on the Old Bridle Path. This particular trail is one of my favorites. Built in 1852 as a path for horses, hence it’s name, the lower section is fairly flat and makes for a great warm-up walk through some lovely forest. The going gets a little tougher, and at around the 2 mile mark you come out on a series of ledges with incredible views across Walker Ravine to the peaks along the ridge. After this you ascend the steep little humps along what is known as Agony Ridge. It received this name from the AMC crews that must pack heavy loads of supplies up to Greenleaf Hut. The hut is reached at 2.7 miles and sits right below treeline next to the Eagle Lakes. After taking a refueling break here, I strapped on my crampons, knowing to expect a mix of ice, snow, and rock once in the alpine zone.

Mt. Lafayette rises over the Greenleaf hut

About an hour after reaching the hut I had climbed the mile up the summit cone to the top of Mt. Lafayette. As expected, and forecasted, the wind was very strong today and it was much more so up here. I did however get every bit of the view I was denied on my previous trip here. The view off toward Mt. Washington was amazing, as was the sight of the snow-covered dome of Moosilauke, but the true gem was the greatest perspective of the Pemi Wilderness I’ve ever seen. I especially loved looking off toward the Bonds. I had to duck behind a large rock after snapping a few pictures every minute or so to avoid being frozen in the wind, but it was worth it.

Trail signs atop Lafayette

After finishing with the pictures, I suited up in some more appropriate clothing and set off along the spine of the Franconia Ridge. This is an exhilarating traverse with wide-open views the entire way. After a mile you come to the top of Mt. Lincoln, with a great view back to Lafayette and Flume and Liberty now come into view. A short walk later and I was at the junction with the Falling Waters Trail atop Little Haystack. I looked back, getting my last glimpses from the ridge for the day, before descending down the trail into the trees. This trail is fairly steep and makes quick work of getting back down while passing by some nice waterfalls. Not long after beginning the hike down I arrived at these falls and, shortly thereafter, my car. I was glad I had waited for a great day to get back up on the Ridge. I enjoyed it the first time but truly appreciated it this time. Now I’d like to get back up there and see it when it isn’t covered in snow. Shouldn’t be long now.

The Franconia Ridge seen from Lafayette

View of Mt. Washington and the Twin-Bond Range

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