Day 1 - Start to Greenleaf Hut - Sunday, June 24, 2012
|Posing at the top (almost) of Mt. Liberty.|
|The Franconia Ridge Trail showing |
Mt. Lincoln and Mt. Lafayette.
|Franconia Ridge from the Greenleaf Hut|
Total hike numbers for our first day: 8.54 miles in just under 7 hours. Elevation gain was 4,491 feet. We also dropped 1,745 feet, mostly at the end of the day.
|Looking back at Franconia Notch on Monday morning.|
|The Galehead Hut in the rain.|
|One of Zealand's bunkrooms,|
with clothes drying everywhere.
We reached Zealand after 5 1/4 hours on the trail, hiking just under 6.5 miles. There was only an elevation gain of 1614 feet in this day's hike, and a loss of 2,762. This was a much easier hike than the day before.
|Mealtime at the Zealand Hut.|
This is the only hut that obtains electrical power by water - the rest use a combination of wind and solar. And those locations getting power from the sun had to be very penurious with their power during times of extended rain (like when I was there!). But because the Zealand Hut is at the bottom of a waterfall, they divert some of the water through a tube, allowing them a constant power source. As a result, this was the only hut where we were not told that lights out would be at 9:30 PM.
The rain was really getting to everyone at this point. We heard stories of many cancellations at other huts after some solid days of rain, and Ed and I decided to change our future plans by replacing our last night's accommodations from the distant Madison Hut to the closer Lakes of the Clouds Hut. I had reasoned we could make it all the way to Madison from the Mitzpah Springs Hut, but the weather was wearing us out.
|Notice the 2nd hiking pole, sticking out of my backpack.|
It was at the Zealand Falls Hut that I had my biggest boost of the week when I found my new outdoors camera in a hidden pocket in my pack after thinking I had lost it. As a result, I started taking many more photos than using the cheapo camera I'd gotten as a temporary replacement a week earlier. Losing and finding cameras appears to be endemic to the Whites, as I had done the same thing the previous time I hiked up this way.
|Some of the stream crossings were a little difficult.|
|On top of Mt. Pierce.|
|In a sheltered spot along along the trail.|
|View from the Lakes Hut, Thursday evening.|
|What do Lakes patrons do when there is no view? Hang out.|
Day 5 – Lakes of the Clouds Hut to the car – Friday
Friday morning started with much promise that the rain might be finally over - promise that seemed to end with a 7 AM rain shower.
Every morning as a part of the breakfast "entertainment," the hut croo who cook and serve breakfast also read the weather forecast created at the weather station on top of Mt. Washington. On our final morning in the mountains, the official weather forecast was for unstable weather until the afternoon, when a cold front would move through the area. The skies had cleared again, and we made sure to get on the trail quickly to take advantage of the blue skies for as long as they would last. We opted not to make the mile trip each way to the summit of Mt. Washington, as each of us had been there before and we didn't know how long the blue skies would hold out.
|Last day posing with friends outside the Lakes Hut. |
Mt. Monroe is in the background.
|Looking northwest from the trail. The smoke from the Cog Railway chugging up to Mt. Washington can be seen.|
|The Presidential Range, including Mt. Eisenhower and Mt. Washington, in the background.|
|Looking southeast towards the town of North Conway.|
Friday numbers: 7.1 miles in just a hair over 5 hours. Elevation gain: 666 feet. Elevation loss: 3,798 feet.
Total numbers for the week: 42.4 miles in 36 hours, 6 minutes. 14,245 feet gain in elevation. 13,783 loss in elevation.
Despite the rain, it was a great trip. Every hiker should hike the Whites at some point. But remember that there is nothing in Virginia that can really prepare you for the trail conditions up there.
Thinking back on the trip, I am really glad I did it, despite the weather. But it caused some changes. I now wear a base layer tee that is specifically made to dry quickly and not stink. I have a new rain shell. And I think that when I go back, I will wait until the last minute to reserve hut space, as prior to the 4th of July, the huts remain pretty available during the week. Next time, I am going to make sure the weather looks promising, then reserve a couple of days at the Galehead Hut, using it as a base to grab some more 4,000 footers. I can't wait!