Tuesday, June 28, 2011

2011.06.26 - Mt Lincoln & Mt Lafayette Loop

This was expected to be our most challenging hike so far this year - and it was.  Though being surrounded by all of the natural beauty found in the White Mountains was alone worthy of this day long (9-hr) hike, one always likes to be rewarded with spectacular views for all the effort applied to climb these mountains.  Alas, there would not be any spectacular views on this overcast day.

Our hike begins at the Old Bridle Path trailhead located at a parking area nearly dead center of Franconia Notch (elev 1,900').  In total our plan was to complete the loop from the trailhead to Little Haystack - Mt Lincoln - Mt Lafayette - Greenleaf Hut - Old Bridal Path - back to parking lot.  A total of 8.8 miles.

It was only .2 of a mile to the junction of the Falling Waters trail which we would take to Little Haystack mountain (about 3 miles past the junction of the Falling Waters trail).  We would begin by enjoying "Falling Waters" on our way to the summit of Little Haystack.

It did not take long before we came upon our first small waterfall.  This was the baby.  The mommy and daddy and grandmother and grandfather and uncle warterfalls...well, you get the point.  There were many more waterfall views to come.  Enjoy this series of photos which are in the sequence that we got to experience them.

This happy camper is enjoying all the waterfall views!

The falls appear to be getting bigger and bigger.

We finally reached the summit of Little Haystack about 3.5-hrs into our trip.  We would now cross the Franconia Ridge Trail (part of the AT - Appalachian Trail) along this portion of the Presidentials 1.7 miles to reach Mt. Lafayette, our ultimate destination.

 The summit of Little Haystack (elev 4,700').

As we leave Little Haystack other hikers are just cresting the summit.
Note the fog/clouds!

 A view of the path along the ridge.  As you can see, we only had ~100 yds of visibility.

We reach Mt Lincoln (elev 5,050') which sits approximately halfway between Little Haystack and Mt Lafayette.

HOLY COW - I need to climb that?

Looking down, this is about all we could see.

Look'n for the views!  Looks like soup...

We finally a small and very brief opening in the clouds.  Literally lasted about 10 seconds. 

We reach the summit of Mt.Lafayette about 5.5 hrs from our start (elev. 5,250').  We have guests.  In fact, at one point during our lunch break there were no less than 15-20 people and 4 dogs at the summit.

An old foundation remains at the summit.  Nor sure of the origin.

 As we begin our descent we have a 1.1 hike to the AMC's Greenleaf Hut.

We begin our descent and we are about to drop over the edge and begin the "real" descent.

Part way down I turned and looked back up the Mt. Lafayette trail at the hikers headed up.  It is very steep and challenging.

We begin to break below the clouds.

As we descend further you can see the Greenleaf Hut in the distance.

A little closer to the hut and you can see the top of Cannon Mountain in the background.  The building on the top of that mountain is the tramway stop.

Things begin to clear as we get below the clouds.  At the same time the clouds were lifting so we can see some of the peaks we just climbed.

Looking down at Eagle Lake from the deck at the Greenleaf Hut. 

Route 93 passing through Franconia Notch.  The clouds begin to lift further.

A little gem to end our hike.  Some sort of bright orange lizzard at a tree root (the camera flash washed out the brilliance of the orange).

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