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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mt. Lafayette (#31) and Mt. Lincoln (#32), May 16, 2009

Old Bridle Path, Greenleaf Trail, Franconia Ridge Trail, Falling Waters Trail.

8.9 mile loop.

We had originally planned to do a different hike today -- but a slew of circumstances pointed us toward these two summits instead. Once we figured out where we were going, we invited Gwynna and happyhiker of VFTT and Rocks to join us. We were planning on dinner with Gwynna in the evening and thought it would be fun to have her meet us on the trail instead of at the restaurant. It wasn't clear to me if and when she and happyhiker would join us, so I texted our route and time of departure (early!) to her cell phone the morning we headed out, in case they wanted to catch up with us later in the day.

We arrived at the trailhead, excited to hike. Alex has heard a lot about these two summits, mainly info regarding accidents and lost hikers. She was therefore both apprehensive and eager to get up there.

Old Bridle Path is lovely. We started off on a nice, flat trail...

....and soon came across this interesting tree...

...and the lovely wooden planks/bog bridge (Alex loves these)...

.....and then the beginning of the rocks and boulders...

.....and some beautiful white flowers...

....and a lovely glade of birch trees...

....and then the work began. The trail had been gorgeous and fine up to this point. It remained gorgeous and fine past this point, but things got a wee bit steeper and a lot rockier.

After much careful climbing, we came out of the trees and scrub and were treated to a nice view of Lafayette before us.

We could also see the Agonies, a series of steep bumps we'd have to hike over before reaching Greenleaf Hut.

Onward we went toward the first (and steepest) Agony. There were lots and lots of rocks to climb over...

...and a few steep bits to climb up.

The remaining Agonies presented more of the same in terms of trail, except they weren't quite as steep. Somewhere along the line we were treated to a beautiful view southward.

We reached monorail before arriving at the hut. The snow was firmly packed in the middle, and it was nothing we couldn't handle with ease.

After the Agonies comes a short climb upward and then all of a sudden, we were looking at the hut.

Of course, we had to go in and check it out.

Greenleaf Hut felt nice and cozy. Everything looked and smelt new, though the croo inside informed me that it was renovated several years ago. It feels like it was just built -- 'twas a nice place to visit.

After using the facilities and buying a couple of Snickers bars, we headed out. I stopped to take a picture of the little lake by the hut before we continued onward.

Greenleaf Trail dips down toward the lake, and then back upward toward the Ridge. After obtaining some height, I turned to take a picture of the hut. The mountaintop to the left of the hut is Cannon. I found it cool that the hut is almost on the same level as Cannon's summit.

We dipped back into the trees for a tiny bit, just enough to say hello to a bit more monorail (again, nothing that wasn't easy to handle).

Then we were out of the trees and heading up the summit cone of Lafayette. The day was clear and lovely, albeit a bit windy. Fantastic views all the way toward (and including) the Kinsmans and Moosilauke.

Up, up, up we climbed...

...'til we reached the top! A nice man offered to take our picture on the peak.

The skies were clear and the views were phenomenal. Looking east...

...and west...

...and south toward Lincoln (thanks to the lady who took our picture).

Here's Alex with Lincoln in the background.

We hankered down in the stone-wall-area to take a break from the wind...which was usually okay but sometimes mighty gusty. We hung out and ate our Snickers bars, then Alex took this picture of the wall (and an unidentified hiker).

I stood and took a short video of the views.

When we felt like it, we moved on toward Lincoln.

Somewhere between Lafayette and Lincoln, I turned back to take a picture of Greenleaf Hut in the distance, and of Cannon.

We hiked onward with Lincoln getting closer...

...and Lafayette getting farther and farther away.

We reached Lincoln and stopped to take a break and a couple more pictures.

A group of guys reached the summit shortly after we arrived, and we stayed and chatted with them for a while. A few of them were working on the 48, just like us. Then a nice surprise -- Bill and Sheep (VFTT lurkers) arrived. Sheep is a great, friendly dog, and Alex had a fun time playing with him while Bill and I exchanged pleasantries. Later, Alex said Sheep was one of her favorite parts of the hike -- thanks, Bill. After last week, it was really nice for Alex to come across such a great, friendly dog that was so incredibly affectionate.

After a fair bit of time, we picked ourselves up and headed along Franconia Ridge toward Little Haystack.

Upon our arrival at Little Haystack, I turned and took a shot of the Ridge and Lincoln behind us.

Before I turned to head onward, I noticed two familiar bodies heading our way...Gwynna and happyhiker!

As they approached I got another shot of Cannon.

They arrived, and we got a nice picture of the two of them, with Lincoln in the background.

It was nice to see them. We joined forces and began hiking down Falling Waters Trail.

As we began our descent, I realized Alex was getting very tired. Though the mileage of this hike is less than some of the other hikes we've done, the total elevation gain exceeds anything Alex has yet experienced in one day. In addition, Falling Waters Trail is steep, wet, and not the easiest thing to descend. Especially when the upper bit is still covered in snow...we had to don the microspikes at one point.

She was fine and completely capable of finishing, but her behavior became more and more giddy and almost manic. I'm not sure how much of this was due to her being excited about hiking with Gwynna and happyhiker (and meeting a gazillion other people on the trail), and how much of it was due to her being overly tired.

We stopped to check out Shining Rock -- which was pretty, but I think we were all too tired to properly appreciate it.

Down we went, and here came a nice surprise...DiamondRidge, who had come up the Falling Waters Trail to meet and hike down with us. She was a welcome addition to our merry crew.

We made our way through the snow, playing name games with Alex and enjoying nice conversation. Finally the snow ended. This was nice -- though the snow had presented no postholing issues, it was slippery and soft, and it had been difficult to hike on it while descending such a steep path.

Falling Waters Trail soon became quite beautiful, especially down near the water crossings. The crossings were all easy, and most were close to gorgeous waterfalls.

Here's happyhiker going down one of the slabs...

...and here's another nice waterfall.

All the steep bits finally ended, and we came to the bridge close to the intersection with Old Bridle Path.

The last 0.2 miles flew by. We were all happy to arrive at the trailhead. It had been a fantastic hike, but we were properly tuckered out.

Alex wanted to take a picture too...

We trudged back to the car and said our farewells to happyhiker. Gwynna, DiamondRidge and I left to go get the kids (and Hugh), and then had dinner in Plymouth. It was a great day, from start to finish.

Alex enjoyed this hike, but not nearly as much as I thought she would. I think it was the elevation gain -- it was the most she's done in one day, and it was obvious that she was beat at the end of the hike. Actually, she started to seem really beat just before we reached Little Haystack. It's a good thing she won't need to do that much at once on any of our remaining hikes -- I want to make sure it's all enjoyable and not overly tiring. This one seemed to push her limits...but she made it and was proud of herself for doing so.


  1. Hi Trish and Alex,

    I was part of the group of guys that you met on top of Lincoln. Thanks for taking our photo and the awesome job of documenting the hike. We have always done that hike counter clock wise (I guess because we are all right handed lol) and it was nice to see it from the other direction. Good luck to you and Alex/hope we run into each other on top of another mountain some day. (Pete, Paul, Bob, Bob and Addy)

  2. Hey guys, it was really nice meeting you up there! Thanks for being so kind and for finding our blog. I do hope we run into each other again sometime. Happy hiking!

  3. Another wonderful accounting of your travels!! LOVED the video you could almost feel the wind!! Great pictures and thanks for sharing again!!

    Douglas Albanese
    West Lebanon NH

  4. Hey thanks, Douglas! We hope to meet you out there sometime!


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