On Friday, I headed north to hike. I picked the Franconia Ridge Trail Loop, right across from Cannon Mountain. It’s a very popular hike and some say it has the best views, but is strenuous: Old Bridle Path to the peak of Mt. Lafayette (5260′) and then across the ridge to Mt. Lincoln (5089′) and Little Haystack (4780′) and finally down Falling Waters Trail, is 8.9 miles and 4000 vertical feet!
Friday was a great weather day: mid 70s and clear skies. I brought along my microspikes, as some reports mentioned the upper elevation trails still had areas of snow and the reports weren’t wrong – I hiked about 3 of the miles with the microspikes on, and post holed a couple times ending up knee deep in snow. On the way down, there was even more snow on the trail, and a bunch of people hiking up were in tennis shoes and definitely not prepared for the snow.
I had the trail mostly to myself: I passed three large groups on the hike up, and 2 others hiking alone. One person passed me near the summmit, and once we reached the peak of Lafayette, two more people joined us for a brief respite. I took a quick stop to drink some water and eat and immediately started distancing myself from the others by hiking across the ridge. No offense to my summit-mates, but I wanted to head across to the other peaks and enjoy the hike alone. At Lincoln peak, I was alone without anyone in sight. Soon thereafter, I was joined by a soaring bird, who flew overhead and flapped his wings a few times. I heard the “whoosh whoosh” of his wings against the air, and was reminded why hiking alone is enjoyable: nature.
After the third peak, Little Haystack, and hiking down about 2 miles of deep snow, I finally could understand why the trail was so aptly named Failling Waters: turn after turn of running water, waterfalls, and water crossings. The water was high and required some creative crossing techniques. One crossing required balance on a fallen log to cross, and another was a long jump to stay dry.
After 8.9 miles and 4000′, I was definitely happy to be back at the parking lot. My boots were less waterproof than I originally thought – my socks were soaked from slogging through the snow (mostly on the way down). I took a minor detour on the drive home to stop over at the Old Man of the Mountain memorial: during my recovery, I had purchased a brick with the words “Live Life Give Life”, and wanted to see it. After a few minutes, I was able to spot it and get a picture.