|View From Lonesome Lake Hut. August 7, 2012 during my thru hike of the Appalachian Trail|
Franconia Ridge is my favorite. When I was hiking on the Appalachian Trail in
2012, I was giddy with anticipation of the big, bad, White Mountains. Moosilauke for starters, then the Kinsmans,
then the striking Franconia Ridge, where the trail sits above treeline for
about 2.5 miles. It did not
disappoint. The view of the ridge from
Lonesome Lake was arguably my favorite view of the entire trail, and the next
day was perfect as well.
soon as I started working here at the AMC, I said to myself, “I need to revisit
Franconia Ridge.” I put it off again and
again because of timing, or gear, or weather.
But then I realized, I did it once in perfect conditions. I shouldn’t wait for perfect conditions again;
I should experience it in a different light.
As long as I’m prepared to deal with some weather. Accordingly, I drove to the Lafayette Place
parking lot on Monday morning with my bag packed for winter conditions above
treeline. My plan was to do the classic
loop: climb up the Falling Waters Trail, follow the ridge north, and come down
by way of the Greenleaf Trail and the Old Bridle Path. The majority of the notch and the parking lot
are within the Franconia
Notch State Park
Ranger and Rebound enjoying lunch below Mount
Lincoln. August 8, 2012.
There is no fee
for parking at Lafayette Place, but donations are welcome to help with park
upkeep and maintenance.
I worked my way up the Falling Waters Trail, passing
numerous waterfalls and cascades, all of which were still largely frozen and
covered in a few inches of snow from the weekend. I’ll bet this trail is spectacular once
everything melts. Of course, we have had
a handful of warmer days interspersed with blustery weather, so large curtains of
ice shrouded overhung rock.
Franconia Ridge, looking toward Mount Lincoln. An entirely different world from that other
I kept plodding along and came to a sign for the 0.1 mile
spur to Shining Rock.
I recalled the
description in the White
, which described the ledge as wet, slippery, extremely
I figured that checking out
something like that, alone in winter conditions, was a horrible idea.
I turned away and kept heading up, and
eventually poked above the trees.
sure to look back to look over the notch.
I had part of my
lunch, put on my crampons, pulled my ice axe off my backpack, and made the
final push onto the ridge, into the wind and snow.
Hello, old friend.
I’ve missed you.
|Looking up at Greenleaf Hut|
The view across the notch disappeared completely.
The Pemigewasset Wilderness was
Still, hiking the ridge itself
wasn’t as bad as I expected.
from the Mount
had called for temperatures in the teens, with sustained
winds between 30 and 45 miles per hour.
The temperature was about right, but the wind didn’t seem that bad.
Furthermore, the trail on the ridge is lined
with scree walls on either side.
like following a bumpy white sidewalk – one that had seen plenty of traffic
throughout the winter.
Before long, I
had made it over Mount Lincoln and over to Mount Lafayette.
Not bad at all.
I spent a bit of time at the summit and then headed down
the Greenleaf Trail.
It didn’t take long
to descend into slightly calmer weather.
Soon after that, I was back in the trees, passing by Eagle Lake, and
looking up at Greenleaf
The hut is closed until June
3rd, so I sat on the porch and had the other half of my lunch.
The hike down the Old Bridle Path was
uneventful, aside from a blurry, snowy view of Walker Ravine, below Lincoln and
|That beloved view of the Franconia Ridge from Lonesome Lake!|
I got back to my car, swapped some gear, and headed uphill
on the other side of the notch.
followed the Lonesome Lake Trail to the lake, where the trail split.
The Hi-Cannon Trail hooked off to the right,
Trails on the right and
left circled around the lake, and another path cut straight across the lake to Lonesome Lake Hut
I wasn’t in a hurry, so I turned left and
took the scenic route.
Before long, I
was on the opposite side of the lake.
looked up, searching for that view of the ridge that I enjoyed two years
No such luck.
I went into the hut and surprised Becky, who
you might remember from my hut
A couple hours later,
after I had dinner, and second dinner, she pointed out that the view was
bridge headed up the Flume Path|
I crossed the covered bridge and headed up the Flume
Path. Plenty of people had been through
here before me, even earlier that day. I
passed Table Rock and continued upstream to the gorge. I walked as far as I could until the
boardwalk ended, as the state park disassembles the boardwalk for the
off-season. It’s clear why, as it would
quite obviously take a beating with the formation and falling of ice.
|In the warmer months there is a boardwalk that allows for travel in the gorge|
I then backtracked and took the Rim Path to the north end
of the gorge.
With no goals or destinations
for the day, I took my time and ambled down the Ridge Path, which took me past
Liberty Gorge and over to The Pool and the Sentinel Pine Bridge.
The Pool, some 40 feet deep, is a neat
formation dating back to the Ice Age.
The bridge above The Pool is built upon a large pine tree that once
From there, I took the Wildwood Path back to the parking
lot to finish the 2 mile loop. Just as I
was told, this spot is worth a visit. It
felt like the kind of place that is worth checking out during the off-season as
well as during the summer, when I’m sure the area has an entirely different
character. Come spend some time in
Franconia Notch! It’s a great place.
|Sentinel Pine Bridge and the Pool|
As always you can check AMC Conditions
for the latest report from the snow stakes and/or call us here at
Pinkham to see what we're seeing out our windows and for the best trail
advice we can give you! Starting March 23rd we are going to be starting the Bed and Breakfast Tuckerman specials here at Joe Dodge Lodge again for $49!
The next day, I went for a relaxing walk around Flume
, also in the Franconia Notch State Park.
I had never been here, but had heard that it
was a really neat place.
The Flume is a
gorge near Mount Liberty, at the southern end of Franconia Ridge.
The gorge itself is some 800 feet long, with
walls up to 90 feet high.
And the walls
are less than 20 feet apart.
A lot of
water runs through the gorge, and a lot of water drips over the sides.
In the colder months, this means lots of
Naturally, the Flume is a popular
place for ice climbers.
From skiing safety to lodging, check out our comprehensive resource for properly preparing for your trip to Tuckerman Ravine >>
For any general questions, conditions information, or trail advice,
please feel free to contact us here at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center
front desk. We are available by phone at (603) 466-2721 every day from
6:30 AM to 9:00 PM or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To make
reservations at AMC Lodges and Huts, please call (603)466-2727 available
Monday through Saturday 9am-5pm.
Happy Winter Adventuring!
AMC Backcountry Information Specialist
...oh, and I learned that trees are actually sentient beings
similar to giant squid and have a tendency to eat rocks. Nature is bonkers crazy.
Labels: 4000 foot peaks, Alpine Zone, AMC Huts, Appalachian Trail, avalanche reports, Franconia Ridge, Mount Washington, New Hampshire, North Kinsman, Tuckerman Ravine, White Mountains