Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Wet Muddy Hike to Flume and Liberty

Early morning showers and mid-morning showers with clearing toward noontime was in the forecast for today. Not a total washout but it might get a little wet. I would be joining Mark, Jill, Amy and Jim for a hike to Mount Flume (4,328') and Mount Liberty (4,459'). Our hiking route would start at the Lincoln Woods Trail onto the Osseo Trail up to Franconia Ridge Trail over Mount Flume and continuing on to Mount Liberty then down Liberty Spring Trail to Whitehouse Trail where a car spot would be waiting.

When I awoke this morning there was a steady rain coming down. I thought this must be the early morning showers that were in the forecast and hoping they would be passing by before I left for today's hike. Sure enough, by the time I started loading up the car the rain had just about stopped. It was gray skies and what looked like threatening rain all the way to the trailhead.

I met Jill and Mark at the Whitehouse trailhead and we carpooled down to Lincoln Woods where Amy and Jim were getting ready for the hike in the parking lot. We geared up and started the hike at 8:24 AM. As we crossed the suspension bridge over the Pemigewasset River there was a mist over the water. We set out on the Lincoln Woods Trail with many other hikers.

After 1.4 miles we turned left onto the Osseo Trail. The air was warm and humid with an occasional breeze that felt refreshing. This trail makes a gradual climb until it reaches a set of ladders. We stopped briefly at the "Downlook", not sure what that means but that's what the sign says. There were good views over toward the Bonds with some amazing cloud formations. A few photos and we continued up.

After the last set of ladders the trail flattens out for a bit providing a short break from the previous steep section and before the next steep section of trail. It was along this flat section of trail that I felt the first raindrops. The sky had gotten very gray and dark. I stopped and put a waterproof cover on my backpack then continued on. It wasn't long before a steady rain was falling and I put on my el cheapo rain poncho. I had forgotten to bring my waterproof rain jacket but actually preferred the poncho as it was much cooler in the warm, humid temps. It also covered my backpack and camera case.

When I reached the Franconia Ridge Trail junction Mark and Jim were waiting. Amy and Jill arrived a few minutes later. The rain was starting to let up a little as we started the 0.1 mile to the summit of Mount Flume. Out on the exposed ledge the wind was whipping. I carefully watched my footing as the ledges were very wet but I had no problems reaching the summit without incident. There were many hikers on the summit and I thought I heard one or more of them was completing their 48 4,000 footers on this summit today. I paused briefly for a photo but did not linger and kept moving on making the descent into the col between Flume and Liberty.

I dropped down off the summit out of the wind and found Mark waiting beside the trail. We waited there for a few minutes until Jim, Jill and Amy arrived. When we got to the bottom of the col we stopped for a lunch break. After the break we started our ascent of Mount Liberty. There was some tricky wet ledges just before the summit but they did not present a problem for any of us.

Up on the summit we were not alone. There was quite a few hikers enjoying the views that were starting to open up under clearing skies. I put on a dry shirt and socks. I then took my customary panoramic video and several summit photos. After a nice break we started our descent and it would be all downhill from here.

It was a quick 0.3 mile to the Liberty Spring Trail and 2.9 miles down to the trailhead. As we dropped in elevation it started getting very warm. There was a few easy water crossings along the way on the lower part of the trail. Crossing the bike path bridge I noticed the Pemigewasset River was running a little high. We turned into the woods on the Whitehouse Trail for the home stretch to the parking lot.

We arrived at the parking lot at 3:40 PM after 10.8 miles and two summits. This hike had a good variety of weather conditions including clouds, rain, wind, warm temps, humidity, sunshine as well as wet, muddy and dry trails. I've done this hike several times and in every season. Each time the conditions are different and the hike is interesting. This was another fun hike with some great hiking companions!

Enjoy the photos!

 The hike starts here

 East Branch of the Pemigewasset River

 On the Lincoln Woods Trail

 Mist rising from the river

 Jim leading the way up the Osseo Trail

 First view from the trail


 Lots of ladders along this section of the Osseo Trail

 More ladders

 Jill and Amy about to ascend the ladders

 Clouds rise over Bondcliff

 Muddy trail

 Arriving at the Franconia Ridge Trail junction in the rain

 Jim coming up onto a cloudy, windy, wet Mount Flume summit

 More water and mud

Wet ledges

 Amy's slippery ledge technique

Amy and Jill pondering their next move

View from Mount Liberty

Standing on the summit in passing clouds and a cool breeze

 Hikers can be seen on Bondcliff from Mount Liberty

Amy, Mark and Jim pause on Mount Liberty

Jill stepping up onto the Mount Liberty summit ledges

Looking back at the summit of Mount Liberty

Descending on the Franconia Ridge Trail

Arriving at the Liberty Springs Trail junction

 The spring at Liberty Spring tent site


At the Flume Slide Trail junction

Liberty Springs Trailhead

Whitehouse Trail and bike path

Pemigewasset River

The hike ends here

Wild iris on the drive home

A field of lupines not far from the wild iris

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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