2014  HIKING, CYCLING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

 

   
 
Runtrails' Web Journal
 
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   FRANCONIA RIDGE LOOP HIKE, p. 2: FOLLOWING
THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL ALONG THE RIDGE

WEDNESDAY, JULY 30

 

Continued from the previous page . . .

My attitude about the trail vastly improved when I finally reached the ridge. My favorite part of almost any hike is the part above treeline, where I can see expansive, beautiful vistas -- and I have very fond memories of hiking this ridge nine years ago.


View north from Little Haystack Mountain to Mt. Lafayette

Too bad Franconia Ridge comprises just under two of the nine miles of this loop. Fortunately there is another mile above timberline on the way down to the Greenleaf Hut from Mt. Lafayette.

Since rain didn't look imminent, I made my time on the ridge last as long as I reasonably could. I dawdled all the way from the summit of Little Haystack Mountain (4,780'), over Mt. Lincoln (5,089'), and up to the summit of Mt. Lafayette (5,260'). Most of the photos on this page are in chronological order as I hiked north from Little Haystack.

It was interesting to look down into Franconia Notch, across to Cannon Mtn., and beyond toward the south and west, the Pemigewasset Wilderness to the east, and clouds moving through the valley to the north (toward the Twin Mountains).


View to the east


View to the west (Franconia Notch)


View to the northwest


View north, the direction I hiked

Continuing north, toward Mt. Lincoln:

 

 

 


Looking back south to Little Haystack Mtn. from Mt. Lincoln

Here's a refrain that's becoming my mantra this summer:  the Franconia Ridge Trail, which is also the Appalachian Trail, was rougher than I remembered from nine years ago.

There were lots of rocks and rock outcrops to climb up and down along the ridge. I just kept following the white blazes and rock cairns:

 


Looking back to the south, where I already hiked

 


Looking back again


Franconia Notch, framed by rocks on the ridge


Hiking up to the summit of Mt. Lincoln behind some other hikers


Looking back from Mt. Lincoln


Almost to summit of Mt. Lincoln; Mt. Lafayette is the pointed peak in the background.

When I got done I realized that hiking up and down and around the rocks on the ridge was easier than negotiating the rocks, roots, streams, and steep grades on the trails up or down the mountainsides. I can't whine about the difficulty of the trail on the ridge because the views make all the effort worthwhile.

I was above treeline the whole time on the ridge except for a little patch of short evergreens in a sag between Mounts Lincoln and Lafayette. The trail continued to undulate between these two peaks:

 

 

 


Down into the short trees before the final climb to Mt. Lafayette

I saw more people on this heavily-used ridge than on the three side trails I used, which totaled about seven miles. I was able to take most of my photos without other people in them, however.

Because the ridge is a fragile alpine environment, hikers are admonished to remain on the established trail.


Tiny alpine flowers on the ridge


Ascent to Mt. Lafayette's summit


More rock formations to climb over or around

The trail along the ridge was easy to follow except up and down some of the rock outcrops where the blazes weren't as obvious as those in the photo above. Low rock walls define the trail part of the way. In some places hikers have placed smaller, flatter rocks vertically along the top of the walls, sometimes ingeniously.

I took my first break on Little Haystack Mountain when I first reached the ridge and the second at the summit of Mt. Lafayette before I began my four-mile descent.

Here are some panoramic views from the summit of Lafayette:


South toward Little Haystack and beyond


East


North, where I followed the Appalachian Trail nine years ago


West toward Franconia Notch, the direction of my descent from Lafayette

Several other people were on each summit but I chose beautiful vantage points where I could sit in some solitude and enjoy the gorgeous scenery:

The summit of Mt. Washington to the NE was under clouds the whole time I was on Franconia Ridge but there were no clouds over my ridge. There was very little wind on top of Lafayette so it was very pleasant sitting there in the sun.

I enjoyed watching some clouds float over the lower peaks on the ridge just north of Lafayette before my descent:

Continued on the next page: the scenic descent to the Greenleaf Hut and back to the trailhead

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2014 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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