Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Hiking the Southern Presidentials

With clouds and rain in the forecast the weather seemed a little sketchy today. The plan was to hike up Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail to Lakes of the Clouds Hut. From there proceed up Mount Monroe (5,372') to Little Monroe down to the Crawford Path. Continue on the Crawford Path and over Mount Franklin (5,001') then further on to Mount Eisenhower (4,760'). From Mount Eisenhower drop back down to the Crawford Path to Mount Pierce (4,310'). Depending on the situation a determination would be made at this point whether or not to go on to Mount Jackson (4,052') or continue on the Crawford Path back down to the Mt. Clinton Parking area.

I would be joining fellow hikers Brian and Jill for this multi-peak hike today. With three cars we did three car spots. We met at the Mt. Clinton parking lot and left one car there, another car was parked at the Edmands Path trailhead and then left the last car at our starting point in the Marshfield Station hiker parking lot. Usually there is someone collecting a parking fee but no one was there today.

We walked up to Marshfield Station and past a cog train that was warming up for the day, black and white smoke was pouring out of it. We got on the trail and were on our way. The first part of the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail is a nice warm-up for the steep section ahead. There was a good flow of water coming down the Ammonoosuc River from recent rain. We arrived at Gem Pool and the trail just beyond began its steep climb.

While the sun was a hazy orb through the clouds when we started it was now completely out of sight. The cloud cover kept things cool and it was a pleasant climb on what would be the steepest trail of the day. The cascades and waterfalls high up on the trail were spectacular. The Lakes of the Clouds came into view and we were soon inside taking a break. Breakfast at the hut was over and there were leftover pancakes piled on a tray being offered for free. I took one and it was very good!

There was a cool wind and I put on my fleece. We then began our ascent on Mount Monroe. There were several hikers coming down and when we reached the top we had the place to ourselves and our first summit of the day. There were descent views in every direction with occasional lower clouds rolling over the summits. We didn't stay long and were soon on our way to Little Monroe. This would be my first time on this section of trail to Mount Eisenhower.

When we got back down to the Crawford Path there were two hikers coming toward us. One of the hikers was Brian's friend Jesse hiking with his friend JD. They were doing a Presidential traverse from south to north. We chatted for a while then it was time for us to go on our way in different directions. An easy ascent and we were on top of Little Monroe our second summit.

After a short descent we were back on the Crawford Path. It was an easy and gradual ascent to Mount Franklin our third summit. We barely made a stop on this summit and contimued on to Mount Eisenhower. Once again it was a gradual descent before making a short ascent to the trail junction below the summit of Eisenhower.

Lots of hikers were coming down off the summit. Once on top there was still many hikers, this was a popular destination today and our fourth summit. Jill and Brian were busy informing some of the hikers of the importance of staying off the fragile alpine vegetation on this summit.

With a cool breeze blowing we agreed to drop below the summit before stopping to eat lunch. We started our descent off of Eisenhower and down below out of the wind there was a flat ledge that made a good spot to eat. We could see our next destination in the distance, Mount Pierce. We finished our lunch and the first rain drops began to fall.

As we got closer to Pierce the rain picked up. When we arrived at the trail junction to the summit it was a quick dash to the top. We put on our waterproof shells. The clouds and rain had quickly moved in and there were no views to be had on our fifth and final summit of the day. We didn't linger long and began our descent to the Crawford Path down to the Mount Clinton parking area.

There were many hikers on their way up to the Mizpah Hut. The rain had stopped but was still dripping off the trees. The green moss on the forest floor was enhanced by the low light. We made a quick stop at Gibbs Falls and then our next stop was the parking lot. Hordes of black flies were waiting there to greet us.

Even with the clouds and the rain this turned out to be a spectacular hike. I would like to do this hike again on a clear, blue sky day. Maybe a foliage hike along the beautiful southern Presidentials this Fall. Great hike today Brian and Jill!

Enjoy the photos!

 Saw this turkey at the Mount Washington resort on the drive to the trailhead

 Cog train smoking as it gets ready for the day

 The hike begins here

 Ammonoosuc River

 Yellow Warbler

 Gem Pool

 Brian climbing the ledge ladder


Waterfalls and cascades high up on the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail

 Mountain is erupting

 It's the cog train

 Lakes of the Clouds Hut

 Lingering snow from two days ago

 A view of Mount Monroe from the hut

A view from Lakes of the Clouds Hut

 A view of Mount Washington from the hut

 Taking a break inside the hut

 Beginning a Mount Monroe ascent

 Looking back down at Lake of the Clouds Hut

 Cairns on the ridgeline along the Davis Path

 Almost to the summit of Mount Monroe

 Photo time

 Standing on top of Mount Monroe

 We cross paths on the trail with Brian's friend Jesse hiking with his friend JD

 Mount Washington looms over a ridge

 Ascending Little Monroe

 A quick stop on Little Monroe

A view south on Little Monroe

 The trail continues along the top of the ridge

Onward to Mount Franklin

 Mount Franklin up ahead

Clouds moving back in behind us

 On Mount Franklin

A look back at Mount Washington with clouds moving across

A well-defined Crawford Path

View of  Mount Eisenhower

Moving closer to Mount Eisenhower

Lapland Rosebay

Eisenhower ahead

More lapland rosebay

Odd place for a small ladder

Pointing at the view

Descending in the rain

Wet Crawford Path

A lush green forest floor

Tree burl

Gibbs Falls

Waterfalls on Gibbs Brook

Lady Slipper

End of the trail

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