I’ve been out every week enjoying the beauty of fall in New England, but just haven’t written any reports! I have to admit it has been a busy around here, and now that I have a little spare time, I thought I’d write a little about each hike. Each of these hikes was to some place familiar, yet I was able to hike a little bit of new trail or check out something new for each. Thanks to John Compton for that inspiration! He strives to try out something new in his hikes, and although these aren’t ground breaking, trail blazing or anything that hasn’t been around for millenia, it was fun for me.
Monroe, Eisenhower and Pierce; 10.3.13
I was able to go on this hike after some last minute rearranging of the carpool. Schorman emailed me asking if I’d like to join Lady Di, John Gutowski and himself for this loop, and I was happy to hike with them. The weather was absolutely perfect for a quick tour of the southern Presidentials, and even though the foliage was just a bit past peak for the area, there was still plenty of stunning color to see. After spotting cars, we started up the Ammonosuc Ravine Trail, heading for Monroe first. The miles went by quickly chatting about all sorts of things and soon we were headed up the ravine, toward treeline.
The hut appeared quicker than I thought and we took a quick break at the corner of the hut for a snack and to put on a few extra layers to shield us from the wind. It was windy enough to be pleasant, but not too windy to make the hike miserable. We gained the summit of Monroe, and enjoyed the wind for a while and then decided to move on. At the summit, the discussion turned to whether we were going over the summit of Little Monroe or not. The other hikers (two having finished a grid, and the other one finishing within the next year) had already been over it. I had not. We agreed that I would go over Little Monroe and they’d meet me on the Crawford Path where the Monroe Loop rejoined. Off I went, on a little solo adventure, which was fun and offered a slightly different viewpoint of the landscape around me. With very little extra effort, the other end of the Monroe Loop is nice little section and one often skipped when bagging Monroe or on a Presidential Traverse. We then headed out to Franklin, where again we had to decide to skip it or go over it. I hadn’t done this little side loop before either, and because it wasn’t too much extra trouble, we all went over it. The views back to Washington and Monroe were tremendous and I can now see why the east side of Monroe could be a very dangerous side hill in the winter! From that perspective, that side of Monroe just drops away into the Dry River Wilderness.
Our next stop was Eisenhower, where we took a little shelter in the summit cone to eat some lunch before heading up the loop to tag the summit. Once over Eisenhower, it was on Pierce, our last summit for the day before descending into the woods which were glowing gold between the fall leaves and the afternoon sunlight. A really great hike, with gorgeous views and fun company.
This was a new carpool challenge peak for me, as the distance and elevation gain were something I’d previously thought I couldn’t do. It wouldn’t hurt to try it, and I only needed Lincoln for the month of October (having bagged Lafayette in Oct. back in 2006 via the Skookumchuck Trail). I headed up to Franconia Notch and up Falling Waters Trail. The skies were a bit overcast, but the clouds were high and all the summits, including the Presidentials were in the clear. I was ahead of my goals on the ascent, so I took a break at the Shining Rock Spur to actually go down the spur trail to see Shining Rock, which was something I’d never done. This wasn’t a long spur, at only .1 of a mile, but I had just never been down it. Shining Rock was certainly impressive and I could see why there was a temptation to climb it, but also why there were warnings to not climb it!
That done, I continued up to the ridge and Little Haystack, where I could see Lincoln ahead of me, to the north. It was a quick trip over the ridge and up to Lincoln, and after enjoying the views, it was time for the descent back to the car. I had seen relatively few people on the ascent, but on the descent I met a lot of people and a lot of trail dogs! The ridge must have been a busy place during lunch time!
I figured Liberty might also be a new carpool challenge for me if I used the Basin Bushwhack instead of taking the Whitehouse trail to the Liberty Spring Trail to cut about 1.5 miles off the total round trip mileage. I’d never tried the Basin Bushwhack, so that was the new element for this hike. I knew where it started from the trail when descending, but I wasn’t quite sure where it started from the bike path. Armed with a GPS track for a GPS app on my phone (this was also a chance to try a new app, too!), I headed down the bike path, took a left into the woods, and sure enough there it was, very easy to follow even with a heavy covering of fall leaves. I popped out onto the trail exactly where I thought I would and started the hike up to the summit. I knew Liberty Springs Trail could be a long ascent, but today for some reason the last quarter mile to the tent site seemed at least twice as long! The rest of way to the ridge and summit was faster, thankfully, and when I arrived at the summit, I was able to enjoy some tremendous views. I was standing on the summit between two cloud layers. One layer was high above me, and one layer was below out to the north and west, while smaller clouds floated up and over the ridge and between me and other peaks of the Franconia Ridge and Owlshead and the Bonds. Truly an interesting view, but one I couldn’t stay too long and admire, as I had a time limit. Back down I went to the car. As I drove home, I noticed that the clouds had descended on the ridge, blanketing all the summits in a sea of white. I was even more thankful for just right timing to enjoy the summit views.
October is certainly a great month for hiking between the changing colors of the leaves and the cooler temperatures. The beauty here always reminds me of the great blessings I have of the abilities enjoy it and share it with others.