Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mounts Lafayette & Lincoln - Solo Hiking


Mt. Lafayette (5,260ft)
Elevation Gain: 3,550ft
Mt. Lincoln (5,089ft)
Elevation Gain: 300ft

Total Elevation Gain: 3,850ft
Trails: Old Bridle Path, Greenleaf and Franconia Ridge Trail/Appalachian Trail
Hut: Greenleaf
Distance: 11.0 miles roundtrip
Duration: 9.0 hrs (includes stops for breaks along the trail, and at the summit)

My 4000+ Peaks #9 & #10 respectively
Listed 4000+: #6 &7 respectively
Difficulty: Very Strenuous

This hike was strenuous indeed, but I had a great time. Even though the trails were crowded and both summits packed, the views and the experience were certainly worth the trip. Originally I was going to solo hike Mt. Jackson, but I was worried that with a farther ride, I would not start early like I would have liked to. With the hikes to Mounts Lafayette and Lincoln, I was pretty sure that the parking lot would not be full by the time I arrived. I had also been reading trail reports prior to this hike and all said not to expect any solitude on these trails especially on summer weekends. So with the hike distance and my pace, there were many others on the trails I was certain I'd come in contact with. As with my previous solo hikes, I left instructions with my family members, packed cold weather clothing and took along 3L of water, Vitamin water and doubled my food supply.

Let me just start by saying that I can usually keep count as to the number of hikers I cross on the trails, but on this particular hike, I stopped counting when I reached 50! And as for dogs, there had to be close to 2 dozen that I saw on the trails. But only 4, I noted, that were leashed/tethered to their owners. I'll never forget the pack of 5 beautiful silver and white Huskies I passed while descending Mt. Lincoln. I wondered if they'd be in front of a sled if it was snowing. At both summits there were so many people, the only folks I do remember were a family of 16 that had ascended via the Falling Waters Trail and were staying at the Greenleaf Hut for the night.

I took the Old Bridle Path trail which starts at the Lafayette Place parking lot. About 0.2miles there is a junction and the Falling Waters trail veers sharply to the right and immediately crosses the Walker Brook on a bridge. I continued along the Old Bridle Path trail to the left. 

Hazy morning looking at Walker Ravine from the Old Bridle Path trail
 First of two pitches of the steep and slippery Basalt dike
Couple more photos taken from/along the Old Bridle Path trail

Greenleaf Hut at 4,220ft.
 From the Greenleaf Hut to the summits are all above treeline. Greenleaf Hut
taken from the Old Bridle Path trail with Mt. Lafayette in the background
This was my very first AMC hut I've ever been too!! 
It's so rustic, I didn't wanna leave!


Unlike the toilet at the Old Bridle Path trailhead, the toilets in the
Greenleaf Hut ladies restroom DO NOT SMELL! Yaaay!

 Some photos I took from the ladies restroom
Not sure where those water hoses are hooked up to.
 Sign in each bathroom stall
Mt. Lafayette from the Greenleaf Hut with the shallow
tarn, Eagle Lakes, in the foreground
 On the Greenleaf Trail towards Mt. Lafayette
looking back at the Greenleaf Hut

Some photos from the Mt. Lafayette summit






Walker Ravine
Looking back at Mt. Lafayette
Looking to Mt. Lincoln
At the summit of Mt. Lincoln


 On my descent from Mt. Lafayette to the Greenleaf Hut a glider made its third run.
It was mesmerizing to watch it as it caught the updrafts of the Lafayette.
On my way back down I stopped at the Greenleaf Hut again to use the restroom, get a drink and buy a Greenleaf Hut logo shirt. The hut was crowded and that family of 16 staying overnight had arrived just as I was leaving.

As I headed down to the trailhead, the temps started to cool off. I stopped for just a bit at the lookouts to take in the views for the last time. I passed 3 hikers who were on their way up with large packs on their backs...the hut croo with more supplies.

I have to admit I love elevation gain, but the descent sure is tough on my body! At the 9th hour, every inch of my body started to ache! I was close to the trailhead and remember commenting to myself that I wanted this hike to end now! But as I write this, I'm looking forward to yet another weekend hiking the White Mountains!

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