Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Flags on the 48 Trek - September 11, 2011

My friend and I were up in the Whites for the weekend. It was my first time hiking since my dad and I did Carrigain for number 48 in 2007, and my friend's first real hikes.

We felt fine in the morning after doing Moosilaukee yesterday, a good sign since we had a long hike and a long drive home ahead of us (mine wasn't too bad at 2.5 hours, but my friend had 5+ hours ahead of him). We did Franconia Ridge on this day, going up Falling Waters and down the Bridle Path. We parked at Lafayette Place, not wanting to go to the U-turn on 93 (and then having to U-turn again later to go South), and were there shortly after 8 as the Kinsman and maybe Cannon teams were about to head off. We headed over to the Old Bridle Path trailhead and started up Falling Waters at 8:15.

I was hoping to be at Lincoln around noon, but Falling Waters's second half kicked our butts a bit. I had done this trail before in light rain with 8-9 other people before, but didn't remember it being this steep, especially the upper part. We made good time to Cloudland Falls, but were stopping quite a lot once we passed them (and I mean a LOT - most of it was me stopping too...). We finally hit Shining Rock around 11 and made the side trip, which I will say was well worth it. We had some great views into the notch, over to Cannon/Kinsman and Moosilaukee and the like, despite the cloud deck. We hit Little Haystack's summit around 11:45 and hung out there for a while.

We saw the flag go up on Flume, and then the one on Liberty. We also saw the flag on the side of Cannon, once we figured out what this reddish blob was all about! Lincoln was behind a cloud at this point, and Lafayette was in a cloud most of the day. As we crossed over to Lincoln we saw a helicoptor cross between Liberty and Little Haystack and then loop around Owl's Head, the Bonds, and then off to the East.

When we hit Lincoln's summit at 1, we stopped for lunch. While we were eating a bunch of people mentioned smelling hot dogs. Sure enough, the scout troop that was manning the flag on this summit was frying up hot dogs just below and East of the summit for their lunch. They had a few extras at the end that they gave to a couple thru-hikers and a couple other lucky people.

As I mentioned, Lafayette was in the clouds almost all day. We summitted just before 2, just in time for them to lower the flag. Then it was down to the hut, we didn't linger on the summit long as there was nothing to see. Naturally as soon as we got to the hut the entire ridge broke out of the clouds and stayed clear for the next couple hours as we descended. After a short stay at the hut, we headed down the Bridle Path and were back at the car just a tad after 5. The whole loop took us nearly 9 hours and we were tired. But it was well worth it. There were some great views until we hit Lafayette (Lincoln broke out before we hit it), and great views of the Ridge along the Bridle Path.

The trails were fine aside from the lower .25 miles of the Bridle Path. This section was VERY washed out, it looked like a dry streambed with all the loose stones, not like a trail. Some major work will be needed on this, the trail was eroded down roughly 3-4 feet in spots. Falling Waters was in fabulous shape all the way up though. Just the long climb that it always was I guess.

There were lots of people on the ridge on this day of course, what with it being the ridge but also FOT48.

Lincoln and Lafayette made 3 summits for my friend, and he is interested in possibly more (all 48 anyone? :) I'm going for round 2 now.

I hope all that got to experience this even either as a participant or just as a bystander like us enjoyed it and remembered what it was all about. 10 years ago I remember exactly where I was and how I found out about the planes hitting the towers. I suspect most others remember these details as well.

A good weekend overall and I intend to do much more hiking next year. I'm now working on round 2 of the NH48, but I also want to get the New England 4Ks, so maybe those will be next year's project?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

4 Years in the Making - A Visit to the Moose - September 10, 2011

My friend and I were up in the Whites for the weekend. It was my first hike since my dad and I did Carrigain for number 48 in 2007, and my friend's first real hikes.

I opted to have us do Moosilaukee on Saturday, knowing it was an easier hike, and also thinking we'd see more flags on Sunday from the Ridge. We hit the trail at 9AM, there were already a bunch of cars along the road by the lodge. The trip up Gorge Brook was uneventful, there was one sorta tricky stream crossing about .5 miles after the Snapper Trail peeled off, but that was it. A nice, steady climb as I remembered it, and there were a lot of people both passing us and that we passed on the way up. We summitted at 11:30, meaning a total ascent time of 2.5 hours, a great time I felt, roughly the pace I used to climb at when I was in shape.

The summit was completely clear and the views were FANTASTIC. The only other time I was on this summit, we were in the clouds and could barely see the old concrete foundation from the summit. This time it was 100-mile+ visibility (as reported on the Mount Washington Observatory Site most of the day). We could see well beyond Lake Winnipesaukee, well into Vermont, Mount Washington, etc. Anyone hiking on this day knows what it was like. The only downer was there was a pretty stiff breeze the whole time. We huddled on the East side of the summit like most everyone else and ate a hot lunch, boy did that hit the spot!

Unsurprisingly, there were a LOT of people on the summit this day, I'd say easily 50-60 at once, and we saw a fair number on the Carriage Road as we descended. We also saw somewhere around 12-15 dogs, all either at the summit, or shortly into our descent. The dogs were having a great time. Dartmouth was having some sort of freshman orientation down at the Lodge and I think a bunch of them made the hike up too.

One person brought up a flag and mounted it on a long stick on the summit. A day early, but who cares, it was a great symbol and well appreciated.

Anyway, we started down at 12:30 and were at the car by 2:30. 5.5 hours total including a one hour stay at the top, not too bad at all by my standards (I know some of you are crazy fast). Especially with it being 4 years since I did anything really strenuous. We went down the Carriage Road to the Snapper and back to the car.

I was thinking of a visit to the South Peak of Moosilauke, but we missed the side trail. I chalked this up to forgetting the spur was off the Glencliff Trail and not the Carriage Road. Well, I later was reminded that the spur trail left right from the Carriage Road/Glencliff Trail junction. We just missed the sign. O well.

The trails were all in terrific shape except for the one crossing I mentioned earlier. It was obvious some work had been done on the trails since Irene, but not much, I think they weathered the storm pretty well. The bridge near the bottom of Gorge Brook has had some work done on it recently, this could well be due to Irene damage or just work that was done this summer. I'm not sure right now. Can't say the same for the road to the lodge, it is very pitted at the entrance and there is a spot partway along it on the left as you come in where a 1-2 foot width of the road about 25 feet long washed away.

We both felt fine come morning, just a few mild aches aside from my knees that have not been good in over 10 years (before I even started hiking...). But overall a great day.