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Franconia Ridge
Steve Smith, Fred Knight
12 Jan 2014

Steve and I had expectations of moderate temperatures, no deep snow, clearing skies, and lots of time to do the classic hike up Falling Waters, across Fraconia Ridge from Mt Lincoln to Mt Lafayette, and back down Old Bridle Path. Instead, we were slowed by icy trails, endured a windy ridge with no views and granular snow, and got a late arrival back at the car past sunset. A thoroughly fun day! But ice on both ascent and descent. The ridge had almost no snow, either icy or bare ground with a few drifts in sheltered areas (not many of those!)

We got going from Lafayette Campground just after 8am and choose Falling Waters for the ascent, thinking it would be easier than coming down. True, but we needed ice ax and crampons in parts and took 3.5 hours to reach the ridge where the wind was blowing. Emerging from the frozen trees, we suited up from head to foot. Luckily the temperatures were indeed mild. The ridge walk went as expected, and it was pleasant to reach the lee of the back side of Mt Lafayette. We had been joined by a solo hiker, Joe, who stayed with us to below the Greenleaf Hut.

Map of the hike.

movie of pics here.

A movie recorded on Mt Lincoln, before the Franconia Ridge walk.

Coming down off Lafayette required microspikes but the terrain was a combination of icy and bare trail all the way (1.1 miles) down to Greenleaf Hut. We stopped there and headed down Old Bridle Path at 3pm. The trail was very icy; I switched to my crampons. We finally got back at 5pm, pretty darn tired.

If all the trails are like this, I'm going to wait for some snow to cover the ice before taking another hike.

Summary: 9.8 miles in 9 hours, ice everywhere on Falling Waters and Old Bridle Path and very little snow on the Franconia Ridge
Starting out through the I93 tunnel
Starting out through the I93 tunnel
First creek crossing
First creek crossing
Still with microspikes, but ice ax instead of poles
Still with microspikes, but ice ax instead of poles
Falling Waters
Falling Waters
Steve capturing majesty
Steve capturing majesty
Creek Crossing
Creek Crossing
More Falling Waters
More Falling Waters
Our first break for snack
Our first break for snack
and more…ice continues
and more…ice continues
and ambling up
and ambling up
Reaching the windblown ridge, top of Falling Waters
Reaching the windblown ridge, top of Falling Waters
In lee on Mt Lincoln
In lee on Mt Lincoln
Franconia Ridge walk; Joe joined us
Franconia Ridge walk; Joe joined us
Approaching Lafayette
Approaching Lafayette
Mt Lafayette, about 1:30pm
Mt Lafayette, about 1:30pm
Leaving Mt Lafayette
Leaving Mt Lafayette