I got the last Laugh-ayette on NOAA
After missing calm, if not obscured, conditions on Washington this Sunday, I, along with you, and everyone else, was watching the Presidential forecast like a raven over Bondcliff. We all saw potential for Tuesday and/or Wednesday. By late Monday, the various sources seemed to converge on Wednesday being warmer by some 20 degrees, but with damaging winds. Tuesday, however, was a different story, with the winds being anywhere from 8MPH to 45-55MPH with higher gusts. We dissolved our Presidential attempt and called it a night. I promised myself to sleep until the school alarm clock went off, check the forecast, and if it looked good, to tag Lafayette and Lincoln. If you are reading this, you obviously know how things went.
The Agonies, Lincoln and Lincoln's Throat from the First Agony
When I left the house at 7:30, the Cannon Mesonet station read 34+ MPH and -3 degrees. But the forecast was for warming and the winds were to lessen. In the Falling Waters parking lot, it was cold and breezy, but there were other cars and some people were heading up "at least to the hut". I geared up and turned left at the split to get Lafayette first on the idea that the wind at my back was the better choice. I wore snowshoes, although few if any others did. At the Agonies, Drew Peterson caught me while I was taking photos, and we hiked together and chatted for most of the rest of the day.
Greenleaf Hut below North Lafayette, Lafayette from Greenleaf Hut
There was very little wind at all on the Agonies and only a slight breeze at the hut. The sun was very bright, and March-strong, so it was comfortable even without a shell. Right before emerging from the scrub, however, we put on heavier gloves, hats, shells, and pocketed masks, goggles and balaclavas for easy access. Part way up the slope, Drew stopped to put on crampons because there were stretches of blue ice. My snowshoe crampons were digging in to my satisfaction so I kept them on (for the duration of the hike.)
Twin Range and Presidential Range, Garfield
Amazingly, this was only my third time on Lafayette, and the first time with completely clear skies. It was also the first time since January of 2009, making it the least-recently visited peak of the 48 for me. I went around to the east side of the cone and ate a sandwich while enjoying the unlimited visibility and waiting for Drew to catch up. From here to Lincoln, I wore a face mask and goggles, along with a hat and a hood, and was actually quite comfortable. We encountered a few groups coming the other way, but it wasn't warm enough to do more than say hi.
The Bonds, Lincoln
Descending Lafayette for Lincoln there was sufficient snow to leave the snowshoes on, although coming off Lincoln it was a bit thin. It was pretty wind scoured between the peaks, but there were occasional knee-deep drifts. Walking was complicated by enjoying the views instead of watching where I was going We stopped on North Lincoln very briefly before continuing on the Lincoln. The stop here was photos-only, and we skirted the bare rock on our way to The Gargoyles. There was enough snow on them today to make them look even cooler than usual, and we stopped to photograph them from several angles.
The Gargoyles, Lincoln from Little Haystack
One of my favorite pictures I've ever taken is Lincoln from Little Haystack, poking above the undercast. Today you couldn't buy a cloud if your life depended on it, and it turns out the view of Lincoln is every bit as fine. Here, Drew decided to continue on to Liberty and Flume, while I headed down. At Cloudland Falls, I heard voices and it turned out to be Drew abandoning the attempt due to unbroken and deep snow.
I have to say that this is definitely one of the highlight hikes, if not the highlight of the Winter 2012 hiking season. I hope to get the family to do the loop this summer.
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Anna LeBlanc (03-08-2012)