Frigid Weekend in the White Mountains . . . Mount Lafayette & Lincoln / Jackson

Date of Hikes 1/7/17 & 1/8/17

Old Bridle Path: 2.9 miles  /  Greenleaf Trail: 1.1 miles  /  Franconia Ridge Trail: 1.7 miles  /  Falling Waters Trail: 3.2 miles 
Total Miles: 8.9 (4,154 feet elevation gained)

Webster-Jackson Trail: 5.2 miles (2,547 feet elevation gained)

Trip Report:
- On Saturday morning I headed to Franconia Notch for a classic Franconia Ridge - Lafayette & Lincoln Loop hike with Kyle.  However, this trip report will start the previous Saturday on New Year ’s Eve.  On that day I met Kyle at Lafayette Place for what was supposed to be an easy hike of the Kinsmans, of which we never made it to the top.  Did one of us get hurt?  Was it too cold?  Was it too tough of a hike??!!  None of the above!  We actually never set foot on the trail because Kyle got his car stuck in the snow!  Lafayette Place Campground has a parking lot for hikers off 93 South, when you turn off the highway there is a parking lot on the left and on the right.  In the winter the lot on the left becomes a snowmobile trail and you have to park in the lot on the right.  Unfortunately, Kyle forgot that this was the case and pulled into the summer lot and got his car stuck…big time!  There are small orange signs warning hikers, “no highway vehicles allowed” to stay out, but on this morning the signs had been covered in rime ice so Kyle drove through and got himself in a real pickle. (see drawing and pics below)
-  A few snowmobilers tried to help Kyle out with a pull to no avail, although they got his car to at least be aligned in the right direction, but he was off the hard packed snowmobile track, and was now stuck even worse.
 - Next, about a dozen hikers tried helping him out of the jam for the next half hour, we were able to get the car going but it was veering  for a boulder so that lead nowhere too.  It was really nice to see hikers come by and want to help out, in fact other than one crotchety old hiker who tried to ridicule Kyle asking if he could read, everyone understood it could happen to anyone. 
- After a couple of hours the tow truck arrived and hooked up the cable to Kyle’s car, but again his car was veering towards  that boulder, even worse the tow truck was now stuck too, albeit only a few feet from the pavement. 
- Finally, a second tow truck came along and they figured out a way to pull Kyle’s car without dragging his car into the boulder.  Instead of having a direct line to his car they swung it around a tree about fifty feet off to the right so it would pull his car away from the rock and up onto the snowmobile track, where they then unhooked from around the tree and hooked back on a direct line to safely pull his car out.  Oh yeah, this all happened while tow truck #2 was hooked into tow truck #1 who was hooked to Kyle’s car! 
- And that my friend is how Kyle and I spent New Year’s Eve morning, which was also Kyle’s 27th birthday.  Happy Birthday, Kyle, one I’m sure you’ll never forget!!

- Anyway, a week later we were back to the scene of the crime, parked safely across the street.   We started our hike at 9AM, it was about five degrees out but with no wind we were able to heat up quickly and enjoy a beautiful hike up old Bridle Path and Greenleaf Trail.  Except for some minor wind drifts along the Franconia Ridge the trails were all packed down solid and built for speed.
- The forecast called for sunny skies but that wasn’t the case as an overcast loomed above us all day.  There were blue skies to the northwest, and some thin clouds hoovering around Little Haystack with the sun brightly shinning behind it but not through it.
-  It was amazing how calm the weather was above treeline, there are not too many days where you can shuffle along the Franconia Ridge in January when there is zero wind and enjoy the views even as the weather struggles to reach ten degrees.
- Our descent down Falling Waters Trail was a speedy one as all the rocks and roots were buried beneath a few feet of snow.  When we reached the last water crossing we veered off the trail to take a peek at the NH Outing Club cabin which is used by hikers and climbers (permit use only).  The cabin seems like it’s out of place in the middle of nowhere but I do believe the original cut of the Falling Waters Trail used to head up from the old Route 3 right past it.  It was pretty neat to take pictures of the outside of the cabin before finishing a great day up on the ridge. J

- On Sunday I had to head to RI in the afternoon but I wanted to get in some strength training and a quick hike before heading south.  I got up early and hit up the local fitness center before heading to Crawford Notch for another cold but easy hike.
- Mount Jackson is a five mile round trip, which in the winter when broken out is actually an easier hike than in snow free months because the footing on the trail is one of the top five most eroded trails in the White Mountains, it’s gnarly squared.
- On this morning it was a super packed highway, and for the second straight day the snowshoes got a free ride on my pack.  Unlike yesterday, it was a little breezier up top and temperatures were struggling to reach zero too.  Luckily, I was able to stay warm on the hike up as the trees shielded me from the wind, which even though it wasn’t windy at all, maybe 15 MPH, it doesn’t take much to chill a hiker to his/her bones when the air temp is zero.
- Views from the top were incredible as it was a bluebird day, so I snapped a few pics and scurried back down below the trees as unfortunately for me the five minutes I spent up there was during an extended gusty period, and like I said it doesn’t take much wind to freeze your eyelashes and eyebrows!
- Once back below the trees I motored my way down the mountain and hit the road just before noon and headed back south, only swearing twice at clueless drivers through Boston’s Expressway, score!! J

#1 is where Kyle original was stuck, #2 is where a snowmobile dragged him to, Tow Truck #1 got stuck just inside the "no highway vehicle" zone, tow truck #2 hooked onto him, while truck #1 hooked around a tree to move Kyle away from the boulder and back on the snowmobile track, where they could hook up to him using a straight on you can clearly see from this very detailed drawing!

This is where Kyle's car was stuck when the tow truck arrived

Slowly pulling him out

Pulling him back onto more solid snow pack

The snow where he was embedded

Finally back to just pulling him out with a normal straight on approach

The two tow trucks back on solid ground

Looking at Cannon Mountain (top) as Old Bridle Path climbs up Agony Ridge (bottom)

Sun trying to shine through the clouds on a frigid morning in the Whites

Cannon Mountain was blowing snow on the slopes so it made a cool effect

Franconia Ridge pano

Greenleaf Hut

Eagle Lake and Mount Lafayette

Greenleaf Hut as seen from the Greenleaf Trail at treeline

Kyle makes his way up the western shoulder of Mount Lafayette

From the pictures it looks like a gloomy day but it really wasn't at all

Looking back down towards Franconia Notch with the Kinsman Ridge across the way

Kyle hikes up a steep snowfield about a quarter mile from the summit

Hiking up into the sun!

A hiker slowly makes his way to the top of the snowfield

Pano from the top of the mini lip

Cannon Mountain Ski Area

Looking across the Pemigewasset Wilderness from Mount Lafayette's summit

Owl's Head with the Bonds behind it and to the left

Twin and Bond ranges

Presidential Range rising high above everything else to the north

Kinsman Ridge

Classic Franconia Ridge shot

Kyle hiking across the ridge

The sun was shining brightly but the clouds were just thick enough to keep it at bay

Mount Lincoln

Pano of the Lincoln Slide buried in snow

Kyle makes his way up to Mount Lincoln's summit

Mount Lafayette's summit cone in the middle of the winter is when it is looking the most majestic!

Hikers descending Mount Lincoln

Looking back at Mount Lafayette

Little Haystack being overtaken by some clouds

The Twinway across the Pemi Wilderness with the Presidential Range off in the distance

Cold but beautiful day up on the ridge

Hiking into the clouds

Cloudland falls mostly buried in snow

The NH Outing Club cabin

Kyle takes a short swing while I get a picture of the very nice secluded cabin

Hiking up the Webster-Jackson Trail

Cold morning in the woods, but shielded from the wind

The last half mile push to the summit

Presidential Range

Mount Washington

The Willey Range

Mount Willard, Avalon, Field, and Tom

Mount Carrigain and the Hancocks


  1. Great images, both hikes! It is interesting how persistently different this winter is from last in the Whites.

    1. Thanks, Doug! It has definitely been a better winter so far, lot more snow and beautiful in the woods and above the trees, hopefully it'll stay this way for the next few months!