The Calm Before the Storm : Mount Lafayette and Lincoln

Date of Hike: 11/25/14

Skookumchuck Trail: 4.3 miles  /  Garfield Ridge Trail: 0.8 miles  /  Franconia Ridge Trail: 2.0 miles  /  Greenleaf Trail: 3.8 miles  /  Pemi Bike Path: 2.7 miles
Total Miles: 13.75 (4,750 feet elevation gained) Garmin GPS Forerunner 910XT

Trip Report:
-  On Tuesday Whitney and I wanted to get a quick hike in before the upcoming snow storm.  It would probably be our last time until mid spring hiking in the Whites with mostly bare ground.  The forecast called for clear skies with temperatures well into the thirties so we decided to go above 5,000 feet to the Franconia Ridge.  Coming along with us was my friend and ultra-runner Tony.  He had been hiking the past three days on Webster-Jackson, the Moats, and Moriah with our friend Kelsey.
- Our route for the day would take us up the lovely Skookumchuck, which is probably the easiest approach to treeline to Franconia Ridge, ending just north of Mount Lafayette.  The trail has easy to moderate grades with excellent footing for most of its length.  Whitney set a great pace for the middle portion of the ascent pushing Tony and I as we gained the ridge.
- Views from above treeline were excellent as we hiked over the false summits of Mount Lafayette.  The wind was whipping at times, gusts up to 40 mph, but for the most part they were around 15 to 20 mph and with the temperature above freezing it felt quite refreshing.
- Along the ridge we ran into a few other hikers, one of which Tony new from ultra-marathons.  When we hit the summit of Lincoln we decided to back track to Lafayette and descend the Greenleaf Trail instead of the Falling Waters Trail.  There were two reasons for this, we didn't know the ice situation on the middle section of the trail, we weren't in the mood for a tedious decent, and more importantly we already had to walk the Pemi bike path back to the car and this would make it a longer walk of pounding pavement which gets old after a couple of miles!
- It was a quick hike back over North Lincoln (Mount Truman) and Lafayette, and a speedy descent down the Greenleaf Trail to the Greenleaf Hut, which is closed for the winter.  At the hut we walked around trying to find the emergency space that hikers can use if they run into serious problems.  We think we found it, and well, it's not the easiest space to get to, which is good because it keeps people from just going into it for shits and giggles like the 'Dungeon' at Lakes of the Clouds Hut.
- From the hut we dropped back into the woods and down the Greenleaf Trail which is not as nice of a hike as the Skookumchuck.  It had icy/wet/slick moss, the trail had rough and rocky footing in spots, too.  However, where the trail passes under Eagle Cliff there is an excellent view over to Cannon cliffs.  After Eagle Rock the footing improves dramatically as it heads down then parallels the highway before ending right next to an entrance ramp to 93.
- From here we walked under the highway and took the bike path back to the car.  This was the final stretch of the eight mile bike path that I had yet to go on.  The last mile was quite interesting as it went over an old bridge that looked like it was once a real road, maybe this was the old section of Route 3 before they rerouted it to coincide with 93??!!
- When we got back to the trailhead, we said our goodbyes to Tony as Whitney and I sat in the back of the Jeep and ate lunch before heading into Lincoln.  Whitney wanted to check out Steve Smith's Mountain Wandering book store, she's never been and has been wanting to check it out for the longest time.  Unfortunately as we pulled onto the Kanc I must have ran over a screw and ended up with a tire quickly losing air!  Luckily the Jeep has a full size tire for a spare and it was easy and fun time changing the tire. It was the first time since I was a teenager I had to do this.  I'm still amazed how those tiny jacks easily lift a car off the ground!
- Anyway, after the tire change we drove the Kanc and caught a beautiful sunset from Kancamagus Pass!  Perfect ending to a great day in the Whites!

Route for the day, click here for details 
 The Skookumchuck Trail
 Mount Lafayette
 Looking down to Eagle Lake, Greenleaf Hut, across to Lonesome Lake and Kinsman Ridge
 Franconia Ridge
 The Lincoln Slide!
 Little Haystack, Mount Liberty and Flume Mountain
 Redrock Ravine
 Classic Franconia Ridge Shot!
Cannon Mountain from across the notch 
 Eagle Lake and Mount Lafayette
 Descending the Greenleaf Trail and hiking over and old bridge on the Pemi Bike Psth
Whitney gets in position to take a shot of Cannon's cliffs!

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