#23, #24 Mts. Flume and
via Osseo to Franconia Ridge to Liberty Springs Trails Liberty July 4, 2009.
Mileage: 10.7 RT
Elevation gain: 3800'
Trailhead: Lincoln Woods trailhead on the Kancamagus, four miles east of I-93.
Lesson learned: Just when you think you can't get any wetter!
How fitting to plan a Mt. Liberty hike on the fourth of July! On this day I hiked with Rich, Sandy, Eileen, Art, David, Marie, Norm and his crew (Barb, Stacy, Barb and Peter). I was just getting over a sinus infection and had no voice.
Eileen planned this hike the year before but the weather did not cooperate. We all eagerly awaited the rescheduling.
The forecast indicated showers and thunderstorms (which wound up being very accurate). We car spotted, leaving Sandy's car at the Liberty Springs trailhead (adjacent to the Flume Visitor Center).
The trail was gradual and comfortable until the last third of Osseo, where there were switchbacks and it got steeper. We hiked an hour or two under gray skies and it then it rained (enough to put on jackets).
|A series of stairs on the Osseo trail.|
Here we stopped and had lunch. As we are chatting, we heard thunder, closer than we had expected - the storm was coming. We gathered our stuff and headed out; we had to reach the summit before the storm hit. We hiked up a little nub, turned a corner and directly in front of us was an intense steep cliff of rock with an incredible drop off.
|Our group hiking the cliff trail.|
|Eileen planned our hike. Note the thunderheads directly behind her.|
Luckily, we summitted Mt. Flume before the storm came. The view was spectacular, particularly with the dark thunderheads barreling toward us.
After a few photos, we quickly descended into the woods and walked the ridge toward Mt. Liberty while the thunder and rain came (no lightning that we could see).
|Wooded area of the ridge sheltered us from the storm.|
There was one steeply pitched area of rock slab (pitching outward) that was tricky negotiating just before we summited Mt. Liberty. Liberty's summit is a series of huge rock slabs and another angry craggy cliff; not as pretty as Flume’s but this statement is not really fair, considering we were so socked in with fog from the storm that we could see no view, nor could we see the cliff's edge.
|Marie and David on a foggy Liberty summit.|
I found the USGS marker and took some pictures and then headed toward the Liberty Spring trail. As we descended the storm cleared and we could see magnificent views of the mountains with mist, clouds and more thunderheads. Over to the North and South were patches of blue sky.
The Liberty Spring trail was a never ending journey, steep and uneven. Rocks were slippery making the going very slow. No one was at the campground by the time we got there, even the caretaker had left.
In spite of the thunderstorm, we figured we were no worse for wear on the trip, though a dry trail down would have made things more pleasant. Our feet and legs were soaked. But the rain had all but stopped so we took our jackets off about a half mile before the parking lot.
Toward the end of the hike when our sights were set on getting our wet boots off, the sky let go bringing a torrent of water upon our heads. We were soaked and cold and that was the last straw. We stopped fighting it and just accepted it. At this point everything was soaking wet so we didn't bother to put on our raincoats but we did pick up our pace. When we got to Sandy's car we changed but not before totally drenching the inside of the car, fogging up the windows.
The Flume/Liberty hike was beautiful and a lot of fun and continues to have the distinction of being the "wettest hike ever."