Well, I’m not sure if my letter to Santa a few weeks ago had anything to do with the increase in snow cover or tonight’s big storm, but it didn’t hurt to ask! Today’s trip in the Franconias was much better than the recent trip to Cannon. I haven’t been out in over a week and I needed a break from everything, so I packed up this morning and headed up to the Liberty Spring trail to hike up Liberty. Not only was this a much needed break, but also was the first peak of the winter for me and one I needed for my winter list. I had planned to hike Owl’s Head the first day of winter, but the weather was too foul for any fowl, so we cancelled it.
I was really happy to see quite a bit of snow right from the parking lot. There was enough to cover most of the ice on the Whitehouse Trail, plus almost all of it on the lower half of the Liberty Spring Trail, with a just a few sections of mud/ice showing through. Tonight’s snowstorm will probably cover all of that rather well. The further I hiked up, the more snow there was! Yay! No more ice! The snow was pretty well packed, so my snowshoes got a free ride and the microspikes were put into action. I was really enjoying the solitude, and saw only one hiker on the way up. On the way back, I passed him again, and then a party of two further down the trail. It was a very quiet day on the trails, seeing only three people.
The section of the trail from the start of the coniferous section to the ridge is a long section with continuous moderate climbing and very few breaks. There’s not much to do but slow down and enjoy the climb, but the last quarter mile to the Liberty Spring Tent site seemed to go on forever! Either that or I was just being slow. I arrived and ate a leftover bear claw pastry from Christmas brunch in honor of the bear that visited us when we stayed here last summer.
Maybe I just needed a snack, because after a quick break at the tent site, the last .3 to the ridge went by much quicker. After taking a right turn onto the Franconia Ridge Trail, it wasn’t long before I saw the first cairn and broke out above the trees into bluebird skies, sunshine and 360 degree views. What a reward for slogging up to the ridge! All of the peaks were wearing their white winter coats, and I could see lots and lots of mountains, including quite an impressive line up and ski areas in Vermont. The summit was pretty warm – it was almost 30 degrees on the summit, as I found out from my new toy, an anemometer/thermometer, a Christmas gift from my in-laws. After a snack, some photos and rearranging of the gear, I was ready to go back down the trail. Now for the real fun – descending in all that snow. That didn’t take long at all, and soon enough I was back at the parking area!
What a great day, and a perfect way for me to start the winter season, even if a bit later that I had planned. I came home totally recharged and so thankful to be able to out and enjoy everything from the broad views to the small sparkles of the sunlight on the snow.