Franconia Ridge and Lafayette – Not the Highest, but More Crowded!
The terrain in Crawford Notch was very different compared to Franconia Notch and Woodstock. On the Presidentials, we were up above the tree line for most of the journey and were rock hopping for about 12 miles. Once we left Crawford Notch, we were mostly below the tree line and the trail was smoother.
The first day, after our failed attempt to hitchhike, we walked in to the Ethan Pond Campsite. This was a little uphill, but not too bad. We got to the site and, though there were a few other people tenting, we had the shelter to ourselves.
Zeeland, Guyot, South Twin Mountain, and Onwards
The next day, we walked some of the easiest trail we’ve seen yet. The trail was relatively flat, and more importantly, the trail was smooth. We made it to the Zeeland Falls Hut in short order. After taking a break at the hut for cookies and lemonade, we started on some more difficult trail over Zeeland, Guyot, and South Twin Mountain. All of which were around 4K, so it was some work. Guyot had a nice section above the tree line where we ate lunch.
We got to Galehead Hut about 4PM and asked for work-for-stay. They said yes and we assumed that we would be doing dishes again, instead, we proposed that we give a talk after dinner about the AT and about our thru-hike. This idea was well received by The Croo at the Hut and we had a pretty large audience. We ended up talking and answering questions for about 90 minutes – until bedtime. There was one 11 year old girl who is definitely a future thru-hiker (if she can convince her mother).
When we went to sleep Ian and I were snug on the floor, but when we got up in the morning, two other people were out there with us. It seems a couple of the snorers were kicked out of the bunk room and sent to sleep with the thru-hikers.
The next morning we headed over Mount Garfield and onto the Franconia Ridge. With Garfield at 4,500 feet, this was a big elevation day. There is a foundation for a fire tower on the summit and we ate breakfast there, using it as protection from the wind.
After breakfast we moved along the ridge to Mount Lafayette. At 5,260 feet, Mount Lafayette is the highest mountain in this stretch. Plus it has a series of false summits which are always a bit of a letdown when you finally reach what you think is the summit – only to discover another climb in front of you.
The view from Lafayette was absolutely stunning. The whole of Franconia Notch is on one side with the Pemigewasset Wilderness on the other. Looking south, you can see the Franconia Ridge trail as it heads over Mt. Lincoln and Little Haystack. This is one of the most popular hikes in the Whites and we were up there on a sunny Sunday. The trail was so full of hikers it looked like an army of ants streaming along the ridge. It was definitely a challenge working out trail etiquette for passing. If you stepped aside, how many people do you let past before you try to move? If you don’t assert yourself you’ll be standing there forever!
The way down the Liberty Springs Trail was challenging and time consuming. It’s a very steep descent down to route 3 and I-93. Once we got there, we caught a ride to the Woodstock Inn for shower and dinner. Two big sections of New Hampshire are done!
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