Mt Lafayette via Greenleaf Trail
Steve Smith, Fred Knight
2013 Feb 02

map

We took two cars to enable the hike up Greenleaf (parking at Cannon Mt skiing) and return via either Old Bridle Path or Falling Waters (preferred). The day started sunny and at 10 deg F (even though calling it an alpine start was questionable due to the lateness). Greenleaf is a very nice trail below the Greenleaf Hut---my first time on it. By the time we reached the summit at noon, the clouds had moved in. From conversations en route, we heard that Falling Waters stream crossings were dismal, so we headed back via Old Bridle Path. The inset shows the area where some Falling Waters hikers bushwhacked to avoid the lower two stream crossings. insetTrip time was well over book time of 5.75 hrs, although I wouldn't call the pace leisurely. Must have been all those Fuji picture taking stops. Quite a fun day; never got out of the teens for temperture. When I got back to the car and Steve had headed home, the temperature was 15 deg F. With no nice plans for Sunday, I decided to abandon the sleepover at Lafayette Campground and return home. I kept thinking of possible routes to Kinsman, Passaconaway, or Squam Range for Sunday, but I wasn't psyched. I am hoping for some two-day hikes on some of the next few weekends. And I'll hope for some more snow!

Steve brought his new Fuji X-E1 for its first cold-weather trials. Keeping it inside his jacket worked fine; no cold temperature problems. My Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5, housed in its case on my pack strap, gave up at the summit. The battery read "no juice." Warming it inside my outer two layers allowed a recovery by the time we got back. When I returned home, I finally ordered my new camera, the Sony NEX-6, which I have been contemplating for a week. See my comparison of mirrorless cameras. I still think the Fuji has an edge in resolution, but I chose the Sony due to its smaller weight (1 lb vs. 1.5 lbs), better video frame rate (60-Hz vs. 24-Hz 1080p), compact lens, and smaller price ($1000 vs. $1400). We'll see how it is in cold weather. I sprung for the $35 circular polarizer and coupler for my manual f/1.4 50-mmm Nikon lens as well. I am excited.


Panorama below Eagle Cliff: Franconia Valley at right and Franconia Ridge at left.
Click once to get full field; click again to get higher resolution and pan across image.
Panorama


The trail was nice: packed throughout and icy only in some spots. The Greenleaf Trail is a gem up to the Hut. We met a few people who had abandoned Falling Waters due to unfrozen ice and high stream flow, so we were skeptical about making the loop back down Falling Waters. On the ascent above the Hut there was sufficient ice to warrant crampons, but Steve changed back to microspikes part way down. At the top, we got clear of the wind on the east lee of the peak, but the clouds really were moving in, so we abandoned the ridge walk to Falling Waters for two reasons. As it turns out, we could have bushwhacked, (click on enlarged map) but we were fine with wht we did, returning via Old Bridle Path past the Hut.

Summary: 7.8 miles to Mt Lafayette up via Greenleaf and down via Old Bridle Path, 3700' elevation gain, 7 hrs (over book time!), Microspikes and crampons on well-packed trail with minimal wind above treeline.
--Fred (aka tarpman)
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Hike Start
Hike Start
New trail for me. It was groovy.
Gentle, lower trail
Gentle, lower trail
Views west to Cannon Mt also
At the upper end of lower trail
At the upper end of lower trail
Steve readying the Fuji
Smiling
Smiling
About 1 hour into hike
Steve with valley below
Steve with valley below
At the site of the panorma
Mid trail
Mid trail
About half way to Greenleaf Hut at Eagle Cliff; switchbacks ahead; nice view into valley and up to ridge
in summit lee, having a bite
in summit lee, having a bite
Lots of groups atop Lafayette; clouds coming in with some breeze.
Below hut, on ridge
Below hut, on ridge
Gorgeous conditions; still cool
Dy Brook was NOT dry
Waller Brook, like Dry Brook, was really flowing
Falling Waters Trail (with Dry Brook crossings) deemed impassable (3 crossings) by a number of groups