Flume is a peak that I’ve been to several times, but never in winter. When the opportunity arose to accompany a fellow hiker on his trip to finish his winter 48, I took advantage of it. The trip was an AMC trip, and a very popular one due to the person finishing. That meant that at first I was on the stand-by list to be able to go on the hike. Fortunately, an opening came up and I was meeting the group at Lincoln Woods on Saturday, ready to hike.
The route of choice was the Osseo trail, with the poor snow cover this year, there wasn’t any need to take snowshoes. Microspikes were the traction of choice from car to car, which is been sort of the norm for this winter. After introductions and gearing up, we set off across the suspension bridge and down the Lincoln Woods trail to the Osseo trail junction. While this part of the trail is generally regarded as flat and boring – especially on return trips – it does provide a nice way to warm up before starting any true elevation gain. We made the left turn at the junction and began the ascent up to Flume. Soon enough we were at the switch back portion, where we attempted to count the switch backs. That usually doesn’t work, because in a larger group you get to talking and then forget what number you’re on! I still have no idea how many switch backs there are, but in any case, we ended up at the staircases. On this day, there was enough snow to where they were buried. To ascend, those in the front of the line would kick steps in or improve the last steps left by previous hikers. Once at the viewpoint, we had a nice view out to Owl’s Head and the Bonds.
After the ladders, the trail relents a little, with a nice flat section which is a greater breather before the last ascent to the summit.
The grade picks up again, and quickly, we reached the junction with the Flume Slide Trail. It is here that the Osseo trail ends and the Fraconia Ridge trail begins north bound. In just a few more minutes, the opening of the trees was just ahead and then we were out in the open, on the edge of Flume.
With some careful foot placement, we made the last little bit of ascent to the summit and then made the arch with our poles for the finisher to walk through, as part of his final summit celebration. Several of us had made cookies for the occasion, and after a snack and congratulations, it was time to head back to the trees and down the trail.
The summit conditions were not so bad on this day, with just a little wind. We were also just under the cloud deck, so we enjoyed the views over to Liberty, where we could see another group, and out to Moosilauke and down the rest of Franconia Ridge.
The descent was uneventful, although the staircase area was a bit tricky. We finally decided it would be easier, quicker and way more fun just to glissade down rather than try to walk down. After our fun, it was time to finish up and upon arrival at the parking lot there were more congratulations and of course, plans for a celebratory dinner out! Absolutely a great day and fun to share in the excitement of someone finishing their winter 48’s!