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?