The first stop we took was at the trail junction with the Flume Slide trail. The snow was deep but the trail surface was firm, so we didn't put on crampons yet. After a snack and some water, we pushed on. The woods were gorgeous that day, a slightly overcast sky but it didn't dampen our spirits at all. As we gained more elevation things got a little colder, something we'd have to keep an eye on. After the stream crossing, the trail gets a little steeper. Eventually, we decided to put on crampons for the rest of the trip.
Now that we had crampons on, the uphill travel involved less sliding, but travel remained fairly slow. We reached Liberty Springs Campsite and settled in on one of the cleared tent platforms for lunch. We cooled off very quickly, so lunch was short and cold with no views. After only a 15 minute break, we were back on the trail for the .3 miles to the ridge. Snow levels were much deeper up here, with the snow nearly reaching the signs and blazes. The Franconia Ridge trail wasn't broken out to the north, but the route up to Liberty looked in fine shape. At the sign we added some more clothes, ate a little food, and then headed for the summit.
It's only .3 miles from there to the top, and you quickly come out of the trees. I love that feeling, of coming out on top of the world with no one else but your group around. Brenda and I had passed a few people along the way, but we were the last ones up top that day, reaching the summit just around 2:00. The winter views were wonderful, and I shot a bunch of pictures in all directions. We had the full Pemi laid out in front of us, with views beyond to Washington. The Franconia Ridge was mostly clear, although it looked nastier up top. The summit was in the clear, and mostly free of wind. Although it was a little late in the day, we hung out on the summit and enjoyed the fruits of our labors.
After our rest, we headed on down. The trip down started a little slowly as our legs got used to downhiking in crampons, but we quickly got used to it and our speed was pretty good. At Liberty Springs I took off my crampons to see if things would go faster, and sure enough they did. Brenda took hers off too, and we soon were coming down at a rapid pace (movie, 1.8 meg). The rest of the trip out was a nice walk in the snowy woods. We met up with a couple who were headed up for the night, but other than that, we had the woods all to ourselves. Aside from the many, many snowmobiles on the short stretch of bike path, it was a quiet and enjoyable hike out. We made it to the car just a dusk.
Back to White Mountains home page