Friday, July 15, 2011

#1 Mt. Lafayette Summer 1992 (and again September 6, 2009)

#1 Mt. Lafayette (5,260') via Old Bridal Path, Summer 1992.

Mileage: 8 miles RT

Elevation gain: 3,600'

Trailhead: Lafayette Place Campground in Franconia Notch (off I-93)

Lesson learned: Sometimes kids just don't want to hike the mountains.
This was my very first four thousand footer.  I had hiked Mt. Monadnock numerous times as it was in our neighborhood but never experienced a real hike in the White Mountains.  I hiked with Bill, Nathan (my son) and Rhiannon (my daughter).  

The day was beautiful and cool and views were spectacular.  It was windy.

We took the Old Bridle Path to the summit, stopping in at Greenleaf Hut.  Totally unaware of the AMC hut system, I remember being a bit put off that strangers would actually sleep in the same room!    

Rhiannon was not happy hiking.  She complained and we argued on that last stretch to the summit.  Once we were up there, the kids were all smiles enjoying the view. That ended as soon as we had to hike down.  Rhiannon does not enjoy hiking to this day.  Can't win them all I guess.

Mt. Lafayette - again (and Lincoln and Little Haystack) via Old Bridal Path, Franconia Ridge, and Falling Waters trails, September 6, 2009.

Mileage: 8.9 miles RT

Elevation gain: 3,900'

Trailhead: Lafayette Place Campground in Franconia Notch (off I-93).  The Old Bridal Path and Falling Waters trail leave from this parking lot.

Lesson learned: It's preferable to go up Falling Waters trail and DOWN the Old Bridal Path!

The second time I hiked Lafayette (17 years later) was on an equally beautiful day. This time is was just Rich and me.  Rich needed to cross Lafayette off his list and we both needed to summit Mt. Lincoln. 
The weather prediction for that weekend was too good to pass up and this particular hike is one that should be done in clear weather (views) and absolutely should not be done in bad weather (way too much exposure on the ridge).  

We got to the trailhead around 9:30, fairly late.  The trails were crowded; the trailhead was overflowing with cars, some parked on the grass near the interstate. Hiking the Franconia Ridge on a day like this is an experience not to be missed!  

The hut.
The ascent was unremarkable.  Having just become AMC hiking info volunteers, we stopped at Greenleaf hut to talk with the hut volunteer.  He gave us sound advice, "People come in with three questions: where is the bathroom, where is the water, and where is the trash can.  So long as you know the answers, you will make a fine volunteer!"

We got to the summit of Lafayette and stopped for a moment.  The Canadian dollar was very strong that year and many tourists from Quebec were on the summit - in black, some of them smoking (which always fascinates me).

The summit is crowed; views spectacular.
Gliders swooped down as we hiked the ridge.  We felt on top of the world.  We saw Chris and Alison, friends from the seacoast.  It was like a party up there - not a place you would find solitude on this day but that was the fun of it!

On the ridge with Lafayette in the background.
Rich was anxious to head back down.   He felt we spent too much time hanging out and needed to start thinking about dinner and the long ride home.  We were cautious as we descended Falling Waters trail as it was wet and slippery.  It was clear we should have come up this way and gone down the Old Bridal Path instead of the other way around.  The descent took longer than expected and I kept feeling like at any point I was going to slide down the slick slabs and land in a pile at the bottom!  But we did get down in one piece and headed off for dinner and a beer after a very fine day on the ridge!

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