Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Wildflowers and Waumbek

I was hoping to get in a hike today but it would have to be after my son's baseball game. Heavy rain was in the forecast for tomorrow as a Nor'easter would be forming over New England so there would be no hiking for me on Sunday. A late day hike would mean a short hike and short drive. Mount Waumbek (4,006') met these requirements and seemed to be the perfect choice. I also needed this summit for May.

After some morning sun the clouds started moving in during the afternoon ahead of the coming storm. I arrived at the parking lot and found several available spots. One of the benefits of late day hiking is that the early hikers have already completed their hike and parking becomes available and this is a small parking lot. It was warm and I started out in a short sleeve shirt, the first time this year. I left my winter boots home, also the first time this year but carried my microspikes.

The hike started shortly after 2:00 PM. The first noticeable annoyance were the flying insects. While they might not have been biting they did manage to fly into eyeballs and cranial orifices or ears, nose and mouth. This lasted for about a mile and then they were gone. There were many wildflowers blooming along this stretch of trail. This included trout lily, red trillium, Carolina Spring Beauty, violets, Dutchman's breeches, Downy Yellow Violet and hobblebush.

I met many hikers on their way down as I was going up. I asked some of the hikers if I would be needing the microspikes and got varying opinions. Most thought I would need them. At one point my trekking pole got stuck and I pulled it free only to realize later up the trail that I had pulled the basket off. I knew where it would probably be and I would try to find it on the way back down.

The intermittent monorail started about two miles into the hike and just below the summit of Starr King. I felt this was easily bare bootable and continued on without traction. Just as I came up onto the summit there was a spruce grouse in the trail. It quickly ran into the brush and I was unable to get a photo. The summit was completely bare when I arrived at the fireplace. I stopped long enough to get some photos and continued on.

I was thinking this next stretch of trail might be where I would need the microspikes but it was starting off bare with no snow to be seen anywhere. It wasn't long before I came upon the monorail and then it got deeper. I decided to put the microspikes on. That was short-lived and it was back to bare ground and the microspikes came off. This repeated itself numerous times all the way to the summit of Mount Waumbek. The micropsikes spent more time in my hand than on my feet. There were also many blowdowns along the way to navigate through. I had seen no other hikers and would see no more for the rest of the hike.

On the summit there was a little mud, a little snow and some dry bare ground. I walked down to the viewpoint and could see that the Presidential summits were in the clouds. This was my turn around point and started my hike back to the parking lot. I decided to keep the microspikes in the backpack and barebooted across the broken monorail. I carefully watched my footing and had no problem without traction.

I was able to maintain a good pace and was soon back at Starr King and continued without stopping. I was going to keep a watchful eye out for my trekking pole basket. I knew about where I might have lost it. When I arrived at the spot where I had gotten the pole stuck on the root the basket was nowhere to be seen. I was hoping one of the hikers that I had seen at this spot might have picked it up and left it at the trailhead. I continued down and while the bugs were bad along this stretch of trail on the way up they were not nearly as aggressive now.

Just before the parking lot there was one last mud hole to get around. I got back to the car and took off my pack. When I put my poles in the car I remembered the missing basket. I turned to walk back over to the trail sign and there sitting on top of the sign was the basket! I'm very grateful to the hiker that found this and placed it on the sign at the trailhead. If not on the trail I was hoping that this might be where I would find it, put there by a conscientious hiker. Thank-you very much!

I was glad to be able to squeeze in this hike. It felt great to be out on the trail after thinking this might be a "hikeless" weekend. This was the first time this year that it actually felt like a Spring hike with the warm temps, wildflowers and deteriorating monorail. Trail conditions should continue to improve with the heavy rain on the way and very warm temperatures in the forecast for this upcoming week. I'm looking forward to leaving the traction at home and hopefully lightening my pack load in the next few weeks!

Enjoy the photos!

 Started the hike just after 2:00

Old spring

 Trout lily

 Red trillium

 A patch of trout lilies

 Hobblebush blooming

 More trout lilies

 Carolina Spring Beauty

 Patch of red trillium

 Downy Yellow Violet

 More Carolina Spring Beauty

 Red trillium and trout lily

 Carolina Spring Beauty and trout lily and hobblebush blooming

 Dutchman's breeches

 Small mushrooms on the end of a log

 A piece of remaining monorail

 This monorail is almost gone

 Bare trail

 Deteriorating monorail starts

 Monorail and mud

 Monorail continues

 Mount Waumbek is in sight

 Cloud shrouded Presidentials from Starr King

 Willey Range in the distance

 One of many blowdowns

 Back to a monorail

 Bare trail again

 Lots of blowdowns

 Another blowdown

 Deep snow

 One more blowdown

 Stretch of bare trail before the summit

More monorail before the summit

 On the summit of Mount Waumbek

 View from Mount Waumbek

 On my way back down

 Back on the monorail

 Mount Starr King

 Sitting on a burl

Common blue violet

 Red trillium or Stinking Benjamin

 Blooming hobblebush

 One last mud hole

I was the last hiker off the mountain

A fellow hiker found my trekking pole basket and placed it here

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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