Mts. Lafayette and Lincoln Trip Report

By Mike Boisvert.

February 9, 2008: Mt. Lafayette & Mt. Lincoln

Trails: Old Bridle Path, Greenleaf Trail, Franconia Ridge Trail, Falling Waters Trail

Distance – Elevation: 8.9 miles, 3,950 Feet

Hikers: Alex, Jim, Steve, John, Bob, Markus, Jon, and Mike

As planned, we set off on the hike at 8:30am. The conditions were moderate temperatures (the truck thermometer said 18 degrees), calm wind, high – thin clouds. The Old Bridle Path (OBP)/Falling Waters trailhead lot was nearly full and most hikers were already out.

We found the trails in great shape. At the OBP/Falling Waters split it was evident that both trails had seen significant traffic. We turned left and followed the OBP. We passed another group a couple times along the way to the summit.

A little over a mile into the hike the sun came out and we were treated to terrific conditions and views to the targets on Franconia Ridge and surrounding areas. At the usual viewpoints along Agony Ridge we stopped to enjoy the scenery and snap some pictures. 

Our stops were frequent but generally brief and we arrived at the hut to take a lunch break before our final climb. The conditions were also starting to change, the wind started from the south as forecast and low clouds were closing in. We added some layers and set off on the final 1.1 miles and 1150 feet to the summit of Lafayette.

After leaving the last section of spruce I looked back toward the hut but it was completely obscured by the clouds. At this point we were in between two cloud layers: one that ran from approximately 3700 to 4300 feet and the other at over 6500 feet. These were definitely interesting conditions.

Jon and I were in the lead and pressed on to the summit. There were quite a few other hikers heading up and down. A short distance below the summit the trail makes a turn to the north before heading up the final climb. At this point I watched two skiers pass on their way to Lafayette and beyond. They continued to Lincoln and later I observed them as they skied down into Walker Ravine near Mount Truman heading west.

At the summit of Lafayette, we had time for a snack taking pictures. We headed south on the Franconia Ridge Trail to Lincoln and then our exit on the Falling Waters Trail. 

By now the clouds were generally closing in on the ridge. We were experiencing blowing snow and freezing precipitation more substantial than snow. We were not in a whiteout condition but the visibility was often no more than 150 feet. We had no trouble in following the trail over Truman and on to Lincoln.

Along the way we decided it was time to add a little fuel and made a quick stop. I had some M&Ms and granola bar. A large hot bowl of Chili would have been better, but I didn’t have one.

Very soon we found ourselves on the summit of Lincoln. This was a little past the half-way point in distance and completed the elevation for the day. In other words it’s all down hill from here. The general conditions were not particularly pleasant.

We snapped some pictures at the summit of Lincoln and promptly headed for Little Haystack and our exit on the Falling Waters Trail. The hike to the Falling Waters Trail was a short .7 miles with the clouds, and blowing precipitation making it seem a little further. At the turn I knew we only needed to descend a couple hundred yards and the shelter of the spruce was waiting.

Back in the spruce we were sheltered from the wind. The trail was in great shape and we made great time on the final leg out. Along the way there were several groups. A large group heading to the ridge planning the reverse of our hike (late start?), a couple guys and a dog passed us heading out, and along the lower sections near Dry Brook we met a couple more groups.

At 4:00pm we stepped into the trailhead lot completing our loop on Franconia Ridge. It’s always nice when a winter hike starts and ends without headlights.

Thanks guys for a great day in the mountains.

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