Are you experienced?
Mounts Lincoln 5089' and Lafayette 5260'
Falling Waters Trail, Franconia Ridge Trail and Old Bridle Path
9.9 Miles 3600' Elevation gain
Kevin, Judy and Emma
I'm ashamed to admit it had been over five years since we had been to Lincoln, longer than that since we had been to Lafayette. Far too long to go without visiting these magnificent peaks. We had perfect July weather. Cool temps considering the time of year. Good cloud cover to keep Emma from overheating. A great day to be in the mountains, but what day isn't?
This was one of our first "big" hikes when we were just breaking into it back in '98. I remember that hike well and the subsequent hikes. I remember thinking then, "Wow, this is fantastic! This is what my life has been missing!" I felt much the same on this hike. In review of these hikes I realized Jude, Emma and I had never crossed the ridge between these peaks together. We had been to each singularly, but never both together. It's what's great about these hills. There's always something you haven't yet done!
Mountain Sandwort Minuartia groenlandica
We met up with USFS Garth Dickerman in the parking lot. I had met Garth a couple of times before, once on an infamous trip to the Tripyramids. He took one look at Emma and questioned Jude if her dog had any experience. His fears were quickly relieved. Later on we met up on Lafayette and spent some time sharing stories with Yves, a trail steward I had met on Little Haystack. I know a lot of folks would prefer it if these guys weren't there policing, but you know what? I'm glad they are. They're knowledgeable, friendly and very, very committed to preserving the fragile areas I love to visit. It's not an easy job. Some of the stories we shared of things we had seen on the trail were truly remarkable. Good guys!
The Falling Waters Trail lived up to its name on this day. There was an excellent amount of water splashing and tumbling and the falls along this route were gorgeous. The push to get above treeline on Little Haystack was as always a little longer and tougher than memory serves, but once up in the open the air the views made the tough climb a faded memory. There were loads of hikers on the trail, but it wasn't obnoxious. Quite pleasant, actually. I used unknown hikers to add scale to many of my photos. If anyone recognizes themselves drop me a line and I'll send you a copy!
Mountain Cranberry Vaccinium vitis--idaea
Along the ridge the summer flowers had set in and were in full blossom. Mountain Sandwort, Mountain Avens, Labrador Tea, Three-toothed Cinquefoil, Mountain Cranberry. It was gorgeous. Like walking through a garden. I love these walks that just fill up my senses. Flowers at my feet. Distant mountain ranges. Dramatic skies. I hiked with Yves for awhile and we spoke of the rejuvenation we feel when we're here in the clouds. Pretty deep stuff for two guys to be discussing. I managed not to belch. It's OK to admit I have feelings, but like a baby's smile, it's usually gas.
Emma was the star of the day. Everyone ooohed and ahhhed at her. I had forgotten how impressed people are with her. We usually hike where we don't see anyone, or just a few people all day. "Oooh, look at the puppy!" "She's almost ten." What's his name?" Her name's Emma." "She looks tired." "No, I'm tired. She could do this forever." "She needs water!" "No. She just had some." "But she's panting!" "Yes. That's how dogs cool down. They sweat through their tongues." "Eeeeewww!" "What a little trooper!" "Yes, she is!"
We spent a good amount of time on Lafayette. I talked some more to Garth and Yves. Wish I had a job like theirs, though I suppose the sedge is always greener! We started down to Greenleaf. The mountainside was covered in flowers blowing in the breeze. Heaven. At the hut I left a note of encouragement for Leaf who was attempting a hut to hut traverse this day to raise money for MS research. There was no doubt in my mind she would make it there and get it. She didn't. Not through any fault of her own, but the weather turned unexpectedly later in the day and she wisely called it quits before reaching Greenleaf. When speaking to the caretakers at the hut they were very impressed that a "civilian" was attempting this fifty mile hike. I can still smell the bread they were pulling from the oven for the evening meal. As we descended from the hut we ran into some of the "Croo" hiking up with supplies. Oh to be young and strong again! We ran into Brian Clarke, a friend who I met through his association with the Mount Washington Observatory. If you have ever listened to their morning reports you know his voice. He's been an observer at the weather station for a few years now. We also ran into a volunteer trail crew building some steps on the Old Bridle Path. Thanks guys! We had a great day because of unselfish folks like you!
Fly Honeysuckle Lonicera canadensis.
Full set of pics here: