Things worked out just beautiful for this trip up to Franconia Ridge. I missed out on going to a show of a band I liked in NYC, but I wouldn’t trade my experience in NH for any band, past or present. I thought late November was too late in the season to go climbing up in the White Mountains without a bunch of winter gear, but a week of “warm” weather and rain made everything just right.
I went up in October looking to do this climb, not really knowing what to expect. I was expecting some snow, but when I got there the whole mountain was covered with snow. I went along the Old Bridle Path, which was clear of snow for the most part, and made it up to a view of Mt. Lincoln through the trees, before agony ridge. After that I encountered ice on the rocks, and had to go back because I had nothing to help me deal with the ice.
Seeing how nice it was with the snow, I made up my mind that I wanted to go back. I would get some crampons, and I would get past that ice. I asked summitpost member nartreb for some advice. Here’s a guy I never met before, and he took the time to send me a good reply to my questions. That’s what I like about summitpost; there are some good guys who take the time to answer questions and help a new climber out.
Now I asked at work for Saturday off, and Friday night off a long time ago, to go to that show in NYC. After keeping an eye on the weather, it dawned on me that Saturday was going to be nice, so I should go back to Franconia. I could try and make it back in time for the show; if I did cool, and if not well it wasn’t a big loss, since I seen the band before, and I paid for the tickets awhile back anyway. So I got up around 0200 Saturday morning after sleeping quite a bit on Friday, and headed the 350+ miles to NH.
After doing some research, I found that general consensus was to go up the Falling Waters trail, and to go down the Old Bridle Path. It rained a lot all that week, so I knew that it was going to be wet in areas, and that all those water crossings were going to be interesting. They were very interesting, so interesting that I had a lot of curses for them!
To me, it was real tricky on some of those crossings. The rocks you were supposed to step on were under water, some spots you only had this little twig to step on, or you had to make jumps to get to certain spots. Thank goodness for all the “technology” they put in boots nowadays. They went through all this water and mud, but my feet didn’t get wet. It was great looking at the bottom of my pants after the day was done; they were just covered in mud.
I was glad I did the Falling Waters trail up; I would have been annoyed with having to deal with all those crossings at the end of the hike, rather than the beginning. So I continued on, encountering a bunch of people on the trail as it headed towards Little Haystack. There were some patches of ice near the top, and on the sides of Mt. Lincoln, but other than that there was no signs of snow. It was all clear on the ridge leading to Mt. Lafayette, providing some great views. What made it nice was that there was a layer of clouds underneath, so you were above the clouds with nice views, making for some nice pictures.
It was fairly cold in the morning when I started out, but once I got into the sun on Little Haystack, do I dare to say it was warm? Maybe it was because I was all bundled up, and just did a bunch of climbing uphill. There really wasn’t any wind, and it wasn’t even cold walking the ridge to Mt. Lincoln. On top of Mt. Lincoln, it was really calm as well. However on the way to Mt. Lafayette it started to get cold. Things began to look all frosty near the top, and then once you got to the summit, everything had a layer of frost on it.
Mt. Lafayette was cold, but it was mainly because of the wind up there, which was absent on the rest of the hike. It was cool because it was like there were two totally different sides to the mountain. Going up it looked nothing like winter, but going down to the hut everything had a layer of white. There were patches of ice, but it didn’t require anything special to get around it. The poles I had helped a great deal. Once again thanks goes to nartreb.
I was surprised to see a bunch of people on the summit. I’m guessing that the number of people was like 30. A lot of folks were sitting in that trench they built up there. I didn’t mind all the people that much, I was just happy to be out there. I left and had the trail to myself pretty much the whole time going back.
Take some time to look at the pictures with this TR, and tell me what you think.