View Full Version : Franconia Ridge trip Report

08-31-2009, 08:13 PM
(Sorry if this is long, I like to talk, hike, and especially talk about hiking)
Just made the trip through the Franconia Ridge trail. It was truly a wonderful trip as the weather was MUCH better than expected.

My plan was to head up Falling Waters trail; descend South up and over Liberty to Flume, then double back all the way to Lafayette, down Old Bridle. For a total of about 15 miles and 6000 ft. (About 10h30m book)

Hoping to get back to the parking area by 6 PM to begin the 2h45m drive back to Worcester, I determined I should start up the trail by 7AM to give myself enough time. Well at 7:50 I began up the trail, late for various reasons(the "snooze" button).
I'll spare the minute details of the trail since most experienced hikers have done this numerous times, but I will say that don''t take this trail after a rainstorm if you want to keep your feet dry as there are numberous "river' crossings.
I new I would be hot while ascending so I ventured from the parking lot wearing shorts and a tee-shirt with cut off sleeves. Long before reaching the top of Little Haystack I was drenched in sweat and steam rising out of the notch.
I was on a steady but not blistering pace when I reached the Shining Rock side path at 9:35. I had already decided that I would go see this marvel because recently I've been feeling that life is too short to be putting things off. I had also thought that I would be able to see Mt. Moosilauke and take a picture of the Mountain while Trish and Alex were ascending. I was a little saddened by the unexpected descent to Shining rock and also that I had NO veiws of anything resembling a mountain due to the still heavy cloud cover(which would eventually clear out). The Shining rock itself though is beautiful and a nice place for a snack to break up the final approach to Little haystack.
Soon thereafter I reached the top of the Falling Waters trail at about 9:50, two hours after I had started, which I thought was pretty good. From the top I could see just about nothing, as it was cold drizzling and very windy. There was a group of three hikers dressed for the weather, one of which scolded me for wearing a tee shirt and shorts(rightly so). I took off my pack and layered up, first swapping my wet tee shirt and then adding a layer of pants.
I found an unclaimed walking stick(branch) and decided to use it on my descent to Liberty and Flume. The trek to Liberty was much longer than I expected and every step downward I knew I had to recover on my way back towards Lafayette which made for an extremely discouraging section of the hike. Descending from Liberty to Flume was more of the same, except that In a few sections I could see the peak of Flume, which got me excited since it meant the clouds were clearing.
After reaching the top of Flume at 12 noon, I sat and had a small lunch with a bunch of incoming freshman from Tufts that had started up Garfield. I also finished off one of my two 32oz. powerades and checked the water supply in my pack, with most of the 100oz. Camelpak remaining.
It was getting hot again so I swapped my longsleeves and pants back for shorts and a fresh cut-off tee. My pack weighed in at 26#, much of which was a variety of tee shirts long sleeve shirts and jackets. I also swapped my winter hat for my Red Sox cap...If you don't like the weather in New England...

Trudging back to Little Haystack was more physically exhausting than I had expected. I hadn't done that kind of elevation gain (above 4000ft) and mileage since June; but however tired I was progressing through the long repetative woods heading back to Little Haystack was GONE as soon as I ascended back above treeline.
The weather was miraculous considering the forecasts. There was just enough clouds to provide occasional shade and to cast gorgeous shadows on the wilderness to the East and the ranges to the North and West.
The ridge above treeline is BETTER than is described in the AMC and on many blogs. Words truly can't describe the feeling when traversing the ridge. I was able to get a lot of pics, including some of Mt. Moosilauke that I had missed earlier. (as soon as I figure out how, I'll get them on the web)

The views made the remainder of my hike to Lafayette a piece of cake, and Iconsiderably and intentionally slowed my pace, one to enjoy the exposure and also because I had just run out of water halfway to Lincoln. I wasn't worried since I knew I was well hydrated and that the hut was coming soon, but I was upset that I went through 164 oz. of fluid in about 10 miles; meaning that for longer hikes I'll need to carry more water and more weight. Also I was disappointed that I was essentially underprepared, which is an uncommon occurance for me.
After spending about a half hour on Lafayette and having a few nice people take my picture, I descended to the hut and refilled my water, which I didn't really drink on the descent, but It was nice knowing I had some if I needed it. On the way down I started chatting with a couple of volunteers that were maintaining the trail at the top. Once I started hiking down with them I knew I'd make good time and reached the trailhead and parking lot at 5:35, about 9h40m after I had started.

Overall I though I had a great day, but I did learn that I drink A LOT of water. Next long hike I attempt I will have to pack a few extra pounds of fluids to be on the safe side.

thanks for readin'

08-31-2009, 08:22 PM
Awesome TR! Long TRs are definitely OK in my book (as I'm sure many here can attest to) and it is impossible to say enough about Franconia Ridge. I think that you made *great* time for this route and sounds like you still had a chance to really soak it in (no pun intended). Can't wait to see the pics. If you haven't chosen another method yet just get a (free) Picasa account and upload to there. You can get the free Picasa app for your PC as well (but it isn't necessary). We're hopefully going to get up to Franconia Ridge this fall and I need a fix in the mean time...

Thanks for sharing the journey!

Snow Miser
09-01-2009, 08:02 AM
Great TR JC. I really enjoyed reading it. And I agree with Mark, TRs can never be too long. I know I always get so engrossed in reading them that I forget about anything else around me.

Looking forward to seeing your photos. I started posting my pics to a free hosting site (Flickr) and it worked out great. There are many to choose from out there.

09-01-2009, 08:25 AM
A most enjoyable T/R JC. I am thinking of doing that hike next week if I can get away from my vacation at home. It sounds like it could be a great hike. I feel your pain about the long drive I usually leave my house (Dartmouth Ma.) @ about 3:00 am to try to get an early hike. I am aslo looking forward to seeing your pics. when you post.

09-01-2009, 01:11 PM
Thanks for sharing; it sounds like you had a great hike and really enjoyed... the ridge around that area is beautiful and I can't wait to see your pictures!

Mount flume is one of my favorites; I usually just come up the slide and then down liberty springs which is nothing compared to what you did, but I tend to have more of a problem with the alarm snooze button... Anyways, just for comparison, here is a picture I had sitting around from late last winter; it is of the same view of Flume from Librety and should be interesting to see the winter / summer aspect

09-02-2009, 01:56 PM

This should be a public link so you can see them even if you don't have facebook. Please correct me if I mis-named any peaks or valleys. Thanks!

Snow Miser
09-02-2009, 08:32 PM
Very nice photos John! It looks like you had a great day - some clouds, some blue sky, and everything in between. Thanks for sharing them. Look forward to reading your next TR.

09-02-2009, 10:33 PM
Awesome pics John. Nice guided tour of the whole hike! Thanks for taking us along for the ride.

Bretton Woods Brat
09-03-2009, 07:04 AM
John, thanks for the tour (facebook) and giggles!:p

09-03-2009, 01:54 PM
you're welcome everybody, it was a great day. My next hike i'l do the same although it will be less dramatic; somewhere in the Waterville valley.

09-03-2009, 07:57 PM
Beautiful pictures. They confirm my idea that clouds often make a landscape much more interesting than a pure blue sky. Very nice.

09-04-2009, 06:32 AM
you're welcome everybody, it was a great day. My next hike i'l do the same although it will be less dramatic; somewhere in the Waterville valley.

If you haven't done Welch and Dickey that's a really good one. Not very long or high (particularly compared to what you just did) but pretty dramatic in its own right. Lots of beautiful open ledge walking with great views.

Anna LeBlanc
09-04-2009, 08:08 AM
I agree 100% Welch-Dickey would be an excellent choice.We've done it in the summer and the fall.The fall is my favorite time for that hike.With the colors of the foliage and snow on the higher summits the view is beautiful.
Great photo ops too.If you have little ones with you just keep an eye on them on the open ledge sections,they can be really slick in spots.