Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Over the Twins to Galehead

Cooler and drier air was in the forecast for today putting an end to the heat and humidity of this past week. I would be joining fellow hikers Jill and Brian for a hike to three summits, North and South Twin Mountains over to Galehead Mountain. Our route would take us up the North Twin Trail to North Twin Mountain across the North Twin Spur to South Twin Mountain then down the Twinway Trail to the Frost Trail to the Galehead Hut and up to the summit of Galehead Mountain then back down the Frost Trail and Galehead Hut. Our final descent would be on the Garfield Ridge Trail and down the Gale River Trail to complete the 12 mile hike.

The drive to Twin Mountain took me past views of the high summits that were covered in clouds. We all met at the Gale River trailhead parking lot for a car spot and then drove over to the North Twin trailhead, about 7 miles away. It was a cool morning but knowing it would warm up quickly I started with shorts and short sleeves. We were on our way up the North Twin Trail!

We avoided the first two water crossings of the Little River by taking the bushwhack. The water level is very low and the crossings are easy but we chose the bushwhack which can hardly be considered a bushwhack as it is a well-beaten path on the east bank of the river. Crossing the river is necessary at the third crossing and we easily made it over the river without any problem.

While it is an easy to moderate climb there was still a hint of humidity in the air creating a good sweat factor. There is a few small rock ledges to climb up and over but not a problem at all. As we were nearing the summit we heard what sounded like a rumble of thunder. This was very unnerving as we were about to reach the exposed summit. That was the only time we heard it and as we stepped up onto the exposed ledges there were no signs of thunderheads forming although there were plenty of clouds.

The wind had picked up and it was very cool. We all put on a long sleeve layer. There was a brief stop for photos then we took a side path that leads to an outlook with views to the west. It was clearing with every passing minute and summits were in and out of the clouds. There were more photos taken then we continued our hike to South Twin. The North Twin Spur dipped down into a col and then up to the exposed summit of South Twin Mountain.

It was still very cool and I found myself looking for a spot that was out of the wind to have a quick snack. After a break for photos and lunch we started our descent to Galehead Hut. This 0.8 mile drop is very steep and we passed many hikers climbing up. I was glad to be going down and not up. At one point on the trail there was a great view of Galehead Hut and Mount Garfield in the distance.

We reached the hut and dropped our backpacks for the one mile round trip hike to the summit of Mount Galehead. It felt great to be hiking without a pack on my back and it was a quick ascent to the summit. With just a summit cairn and no views we stayed long enough for a photo and then started our descent. We made a stop at the outlook on the way down for more views and photos. Continuing our descent we were soon back at the hut. There were a number of hikers that had arrived at the hut and after another short break we began our descent to the trailhead parking lot.

It was a 0.6 mile hike on the Garfield Ridge Trail to the final 4 miles down the Gale River Trail. There were many hikers along the way and most were probably staying at Galehead Hut for the night. After 12 miles and 8 hours on the trail we arrived at the Gale River trailhead parking lot. Although there was a chance of showers today we never felt a drop of rain. It was a beautiful day for this hike with spectacular views. Another great hike with Jill and Brian!

Enjoy the photos!

 Unique clouds over the high summits on my drive to the trailhead

 The hike starts here

 A nice set of steps in the woods

 Brian starts the water crossing

 Jill mid-way across the Little River

 Small waterfall  beside the trail

 Mushroom "meltdown"

 Ascending North Twin Trail

 A view from the trail

 On North Twin

Cloud layer just above the peaks

 Vose Spur and Carrigain

Low clouds

 South Twin

 Zooming in on the South Twin summit

A view from the North Twin outlook

 North Twin Spur Trail

 Next destination up ahead

 South Twin summit

Coming down a steep drop

Clintonia borealis or bluebead lily

 Looking back at North Twin

Jill and Brian in photo mode on the summit of South Twin

South view from South Twin

Mount Garfield

Zooming in on the summit of Mount Garfield

Franconia Ridge

Zooming in on the summit of Mount Lafayette

Mount Flume and Mount Liberty

North Twin from South Twin

Brian on the top of South Twin

Cairn as we descend South Twin

Galehead Hut far below

Lots of mushrooms were seen along the trail

We make a brief stop at Galehead Hut

View from Galehead Hut

Galehead Hut

View from Mount Galehead outlook

Zooming in on Galehead Hut

Mount Galehead summit cairn

A view from an outlook along the Frost Trail

Indian pipe

A final view from the Garfield Ridge Trail

Crossing a log bridge on the Gale River Trail

Above ground tree roots

The hike ends here

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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