Franconia Notch in the White Mountains

Overnight camping & hiking

November 13th - 14th, 2015

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Group at Falling Waters trailhead Challenge and triumph characterize this trip very well. Following a night of sub-freezing temperatures at Lafayette Place Campground, we shook the freshly fallen snow and ice off of our tents, packed up our site, and hiked through the tunnel leading to Falling Waters trailhead. It is bright and early on a Saturday morning as the six of us begin our ascent. We'd soon encounter conditions up on top of the ridgeline which were nothing like the relative calm down below.

We start off up the aptly named Falling Waters Trail, which passes several waterfalls and crosses numerous streams. Kayleigh takes a moment to pose by a nifty tree we pass as well.
Kayleigh in front of tree
Stefan takes a waterfall selfie as Josh, Rose and Laura check out the waterfall from another vantage point.
Josh, Rose and Laura

We encounter one of the shallower stream crossings along the trail but it still required some finesse. The water was running higher than normal due to the recent precipitation.

Stream crossing Stream crossing
Ascent through snow As we ascend the climbing becomes more of a challenge and the snow cover gradually grows thicker. Just before we're out of tree cover, the wind begins to pick up. We stop to layer up and get some sustenance before seeing what the open ridge will be like.
Ascent through snow & rock
TEXT We find out soon enough, and ascend right into the middle of a raging windstorm. Our intrepid group pushed right along, despite snowflakes stinging faces and eyes.
Group photo
We pause in a stand of trees to show off our evolution into icicles. Our spirits remain high; the raw conditions, ferocious wind, and poor visibility only fuel the excitement!
zero visibility

Rose and Donovan, Stefan, and Laura are clearly loving this weather!

Laura Stefan Rose and Donovan
foggy trail The way forward is foggy and cold. At times it is hard to hear each other while caught in the wind! With certain gusts we lean into them and have nothing but the wind to stop us from falling over. Needless to say, our stays at the peaks of Little Haystack Mountain, Mt. Lincoln, and Mt. Layfette are quite brief. The descent down Lafayette before reaching Greenleaf Hut is even more challenging, as we are walking head first into the driving wind.
Reaching Greenleaf Hut is a bit of a relief as it means we will have tree cover from the wind for the rest of the hike, and just 2.9 miles of icy trail to go down the Old Bridle Path. (Yes, even sign-makers get the trail's name wrong.) trail sign
Greenleaf Hut
Josh looking over cliff Moving down the Old Bridle Path, Josh peers out over the edge of a steep ravine. We pack some snowballs and fling them out, and they seem to drop for an eternity.
icy trail Fog and icy conditions prevail throughout our descent, resulting in several places where we need to step carefully.
mountain view Later in the day as we descend further, we're rewarded with some limited views of the mountains that had surrounded us all day. Reaching the end of the trail is exciting, especially given how exciting our whole journey had been.

The drive home is filled with food and tunes to pass the time. We arrive back at Clark in time to rest sore legs, cherish happy memories, and celebrate our sense of accomplishment.

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