Monday, February 21, 2011

Mt. Lafayette & Mt. Lincoln - February 21, 2011

Today’s hike was an amazing experience to cap off an incredible weekend of outdoor winter fun. Snowboarding, snowmobiling, camp fires and hold ‘em by the lake, tubing, and finally hiking Mt. Lafayette and Mt. Lincoln, my 7th and 8th 4000 footers of 2011 made it a weekend to remember.

This hike was the challenge I was looking for, as I was anxious to get above the treeline for a winter hike, so after the reading the following higher summits forecast this morning from the MWO, I set off up the Old Bridle Path from Lafayette Place:

Mostly in the clouds under mostly cloudy skies w/ snow showers.
Highs: around 0 early falling to around 10 below; wind chills falling to 40-50 below°F
Wind: W shifting NW 45-60 mph increasing to 55-75 mph w/ higher afternoon gusts

The Old Bridle Path was pretty interesting. It is gradual at the start, but before reaching AMC’s Greenleaf Hut, the path gets pretty steep and close to the edge of the ridge, which required my full focus, because that’s a lonnnng way down. After reaching the hut, I picked up the Greenleaf Trail. After just a few more minutes in the short, stubby trees, I was fully involved in my summit push for Lafayette. The conditions were extremely windy and cold. As I proceeded upwards, it seemed like the NW wind was giving me a push up the mountain. However, there was a few gusts during my ascent where I opted to go on all fours. The trail and cairns were well done, and the visibility was just good enough to see them, however I had no views.
Me at summit of Mt. Lafayette
The whole way up, I was telling myself to just head back down if the conditions didn’t improve, but neither of those happened, lol. After embracing my 7th summit in the howling wind and snow, I peeked around for the cairns of the Franconia Ridge Trail, and after about 5 minutes of nervously looking for the way, and almost deciding to head back, I found the trail, and after that it was easy to follow the rest of the way across.

While hiking across from Lafayette, the conditions slightly improved. I did have an occasional minute of no wind here and there, and the footing was pretty good. I used microspikes the entire time; my snowshoes were just extra weight today. Moving right along, I passed over Truman and then Mt. Lincoln, my 8th 4000 footer in two months. I was focused on getting to Little Haystack and eventually down below tree line, so I made good time across the ridge, pushed right over Lincoln and onward. After taking a picture on Little Haystack, I began the easy descent down the Falling Waters Trail.

Just as I went into the trees, I realized that if I started my hike about an hour later, I may have had some decent views through the breaks, but that’s alright, because it was not necessarily the views I was after on this hike. Although the conditions were challenging, it was exactly what I was hoping for. I obviously was not hoping for worse conditions, but I’m extremely happy that this was successful, and happy to have 8 peaks done, and only 40 more to go.

Here is some pretty cool video:

Hike Stats
Trails: Old Bridle Path, Greenleaf Trail, Franconia Ridge Trail, Falling Waters Trail
Mileage: 9.8
Elevation Gain: 3900 ft
Book Time:

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