Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, October 9, 2016

A Hiker's Finish of the 4,000 Footers on Liberty and Flume

Today I would be joining seven fellow hikers...Jill, Kate, Mark, Lynn, Cristy, Scott and Laura for a hike to Mount Liberty (4,459') and Mount Flume (4,328'). This would be Laura's hike to summits #47 and #48 to complete her quest of hiking all of New Hampshire's 48 4,000 footers. Our route would take us up Liberty Spring Trail to the Franconia Ridge Trail over Mount Liberty and across to Mount Flume down the Osseo Trail and finally out the Lincoln Woods Trail for a 10.8 mile traverse.

The weather forecast called for slow clearing over the course of the day with possible snow showers in the higher elevations. I left the house before daylight and kept a watchful eye out for any moose in the road. As the sky started to brighten I could see there was a high cloud cover with all the high summits in the clear. As I drove through Franconia Notch there was only a few wispy clouds hovering around the Mount Lafayette summit, the rest of the Franconia summits were clear. I was hopeful that it would stay that way until we got up there.

We were all meeting at the Lincoln Woods parking area. After everyone arrived we hopped into two cars and drove to the Whitehouse Trailhead. The summits were still clear but the sky was still cloudy. We hopped out of the cars and were soon on the trail. The path was covered with fallen colored leaves and the foliage was looking great. There was a short stretch of paved bike path and then we were on the Liberty Spring Trail.

It was just before the Liberty Spring tentsite that we started noticing the clouds move in. There was a foggy mist over the trail and precipitation began to fall, some of it in the form of ice pellets. We stopped and put on a waterproof layer. When we reached the Franconia Ridge Trail we turned right and it was a short rocky climb to the summit of Mount Liberty.

The summit was covered in clouds and there were no views. The wind was blowing and it was a damp cold that greeted us. This was Laura's #47 summit, we got some photos and were soon on our way. It was not a day for lingering and basking. The trail dropped down into a col between Liberty and Flume. At the bottom of the col we stopped to eat lunch out of the wind.

After our break for lunch it was an easy climb to the summit of Mount Flume. Laura was standing on #48, the final summit on her quest to climb all of the 4,000 footers in New Hampshire. The champagne came out and we all had a celebratory toast to Laura's accomplishment. The celebration was short-lived as we still had to successfully get down off the mountain in order for it to be official. So we started the 5.5 mile trek to Lincoln Woods, but it was all downhill from here.

The Osseo Trail is a very gradual ascent that lacks the usual endless rocks and roots that are common to most of the other trails in the White Mountains. There is a series of wooden ladders that have been placed along one section of steep trail that probably makes it a little easier to hike. It is along here that there is an outlook with a sign that says "DOWNLOOK". I'm not sure why this "OUTLOOK" is called a "DOWNLOOK" because you definitely have to "look out" to see the views. After a short break we continued our hike down.

The trail was smoothing out nicely as we descended. Brilliant yellow leaves brightened the trail under the gray sky. After 4.1 miles we turned onto the Lincoln Woods Trail, the home stretch. There were many leaf-peeping tourists on this trail. When we got to the suspension bridge that crosses the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River we found it to be very crowded. The bridge was rocking and swaying with the large number of people that were on it making it difficult to get a photo. I managed to get a couple shots and then weaved my way through the crowd to get to the other side. I found out that I'd lost my sea legs after all those years I spent in the Navy. We all walked up into the parking lot thus completing the traverse we started 8 hours earlier.

I have had the opportunity on a number of occasions to join other hikers on their final hiking destination to complete their 48 4,000 footer hiking goal. It's always a pleasure to be there to experience that accomplishment. While there may not have been any summit views today it was no less exciting to be there with this great group of hikers to celebrate Laura's hiking achievement. Congratulations Laura!

Enjoy the pics!

Colorful bike path just before the Liberty Spring Trail

Scott on a water crossing

Weather report from Liberty Spring tentsite

Somebody has to do it

Arriving at the Franconia Ridge Trail

Rocky ascent on Mount Liberty

Looking across to the summit of Mount Liberty

Cristy looking into a gray abyss

Laura standing on Mount Liberty for #47

A short break for viewless photos

On our way to Mount Flume

Mushrooms are turning

Lunch break in the col between Liberty and Flume

Laura on Mount Flume for #48...Congratulations!

Gathered on the summit of Mount Flume

A celebratory toast on Mount Flume

Starting the descent from the summit of Mount Flume

Cristy and Lyn admiring the "view"

Mark, Laura and Scott descending Mount Flume

Looking down into a gray Flume slide

Mount Flume ledges

Jill captures the moment and Kate has a smile of relief after coming down the Mount Flume ledges

A glimpse of color down below

Standing almost on the edge

Snack time at the top of the Osseo Trail

Bright leaves

A foliage view from the Osseo Trail

Lots of wooden ladders along this section of trail

Another foliage view

Long shot through a gray sky

A view from the Downlook

Mark moseying down the ladder

Single file on the Osseo Trail

Brook full of Autumn leaves

Coming off the Osseo Trail onto the Lincoln Woods Trail...the home stretch

More brook leaves

View from the river bank on the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River

A variety of colored leaves

A view from the Lincoln Woods Trail

Lincoln Woods Trail

East Branch of the Pemigewasset River

A shot from a very wobbly suspension bridge

Back at the Lincoln Woods parking are to complete the traverse

Arrived home after sunset

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

No comments:

Post a Comment