I wasn't in any of the groups flying the flags, but I did hike for the event to get 2 more 4Ks done and get some great pics of the event.
Mt. Lafayette & Mt. Lincoln
Old Bridal Path --> Greenleaf Trail --> Franconia Ridge Trail --> Falling Waters Trail
Distance: 7.387 mi.
Elevation Gain: 3,557 ft. or 3,787 ft combined round trip
Time: 3:04 (base to Lafayette)
0:42 (lafayette to Lincoln)
5:51 (total hiking)
The trail starts off nice and gentle getting you warmed up. It is mostly smooth and heads uphill only slightly. As you continue though the trail gets steaper and more rocky. It isn't all that hard going but if you do need a break there would be plenty of rocks to sit down on.
Early part of the trail
As the trail continues on it doesn't seem like you have gone very far before you finally start to get some views. At first they are little glimpses thru the trees of the tips of other mountains over the trees. Just a little higher though and you are treated to great views of the summit and the ridge leading up to it. As the trail continues there are multiple nice spots to stop and admire the view.
View thru the trees
Better view just a little higer
From the views here it looked like the first of the "agonies" would be a hard part of the climb. As the trail gets closer it is pretty easy going and not overly rocky. When you get to the "agonies" The trail immediately gets steeper and rockier. After a section of this you get a nice view point that finally lets you see out to the West towards Cannon Mtn. the rest of the "agonies" don't really make the hike any harder since it seems like the trail skirts around them some with no major ups or downs until you get to the Greenleaf hut.
Steep section of trail
From the hut it still looks like you have quite a ways to hike by looking up the ridge. But you do since it is just over a mile and 1000 ft of elevation gain. From the hut the trail doesn't start off too bad. It isn't too rocky and doesn't go to steep. But as you get to the alpine zone you get more rocks and a steeper trail. This was probably the section for me that made my legs the most tired. You are also the most exposed to the wind on this section of trail.
View of Lafayette from the hut
The trail up Lafayette near the summit
Once you do reach the summit you are rewarded with great views in all directions. When I got to the summit there was already a flag flying even though it was around 11am. I heard later that someone had been flying the flag all night at this spot. Before noon it was taken down so the group that had this peak would be the only one flying. It was great to watch the group raise up their flag and also nice to see them sing God Bless America once it was up. Everyone gave them a round of applause when they were done.
Early flag at the summit
Panoramic from the summit of Lafayette
Putting the flag up
The hike from Lafayette to Lincoln was easy as the trail as is easy to follow (lined with rocks on both sides) and it wasn't overly rocky. The climb up out of the dip isn't bad either. But you may not notice how hard it is with the great views in all directions. Since it was after noon, the flag was already flying at the summit of Lincoln. The group flying the flag here also brought a larger flag to fly for the last 30 minutes of the 2 hour period as they weren't sure if their pole would take the large flag in winds for the entire time. It was good to see them raise this up as I got to see a flag go up on two summits in the same day.
The group that brought the flag(s) up Lincoln
Once the flags had come down it was time to star the trek to Little Haystack Mtn and the trail back to the truck. This section of trail was also not too bad and goes around what would have been the hardest part of the ridge.
Looking back up the ridge from Little Haystack
The trail coming down the mountain starts off pretty steep and rocky, but is still not too bad when descending. You just need to take your time and plan your steps ahead of time. There aren't really any views while coming down the trail. As the trail does get a little further down the mountain it does get less steep and has fewer big rocks. And when you get to the lower sections you get to pass right next to and in front of multiple waterfalls. This section of trail seemed busier (even on a busy hiking day) due to the people only hiking up to the falls.
One of the waterfalls on the way down
All in all this hike was a great one with great weather. Even though it was a little windy to start. The views from the ridge are spectacular and make it hard for you to want to leave and go home. I especially like the fact that you can look out to the Eastern side of the ridge and see no signs of civilization and only nature at it's finest.
For all the pictures from the hike, just go HERE