Steve Sawyer, Richard Bissonnette, Mike Willett, Mike Pineault, Scott Stuart, and Fred Knight
We did a 23-hour hike up and down the Liberty Spring Trail with sleep in between at our campsite near the junction with Franconia Ridge Trail. We camped just below the Mt. Liberty Summit to allow easy access to good views of the sunset at 5:24pm and the sunrise at 6:33 am. Everybody made it to the sunset after setting up camp and to the sunrise after arising early. The long sleep in between was warm for all, with temperatures in 20s.
Lots of pictures. Steve’s are here. Scott’s are here. My GPS track is here,
We established an itinerary that did not require very early departure. After drives north, we met at Annie’s Overflow in Plymouth, NH at 9am. Everybody, except Mike W. who had the kilbasa special, ordered some variety of Eggs Benedict. After a short drive, we got going at 11am. The under-4hr hike to the campsite was a drain for me. We all made it.
I took a video of the campsite during the morning breakdown. We had 3 tents and 3 bivvies.
The sunrise was against a few low lying clouds.
Summary: 2 days, 8.2 miles, 3300′ elevation rise, overnight near Mt Liberty
When we turned around, we were shy by 0.3 miles of the summit of Cranberry Mountain in the Bigelow Range. We stopped for lunch after an uphill slog of 2.75 hours, had a great view of frozen Flagstaff Lake, and were tired even though we’d done only 2.6 miles. We had a calm day in the teens for temperature. There was enough new snow, up to a few inches at the top, to make the leader have a tougher time than the followers—and we traded the lead. I was satisfied with a view of the summit.
We had traveled by car 90 minutes from the homestead on Long Pond, past Sugerloaf Ski Area, and into Stratton, Maine where we luckily found the turn-off on Currie Road. The parking was just up the road. The trail looked packed, so we left our snowshoes in the car. The trail was packed all the way up, and microspikes did fine. I made a movie from our turn-around spot. The trail was gradual starting out for the first mile, then steep from 1800′ to 3000′, then gradual again, but up and down with a gradual slope up on the side of the mountain. We got intermittent views of Flagstaff Lake to the north after the steep section. Then we finally saw the peak , but there was a dip before the final 100′ climb to the top. I balked. We ate lunch and headed back down the trail. See the gaiaGPS map for details.
The hike down was fast, with only a couple butt slides. The topcoat of snow cushioned my steps. Again, microspikes were perfect. We got back in 1:10, while the trek up took 2:45.
Summary: not quite to Cranberry Mountain in Bigelow Range, Maine, 5.6 miles, 1800′ elevation gain, just under 5 hours.
For today, I decided to do Mt Monadnock in order to test my stamina, which had been waning. The solo hike was a RT via White Dot-Cascade Link-Red Spot-Pempelly. It was only 5+ miles and 1740′ elevation gain, about half of the Falling Waters-Franconia Ridge-Greenleaf-Old Bridle Path loop, but I felt fine on the hike. Weather was in the teens and twenties and got completely overcast with light snow at the end. The trees were covered in ice; even the drive out had great scenery. Only a little snow on a well-trampled trail, but lots of ice on the top of the snow and on rocks near the top. Microspikes did fine, but I saw a couple people with crampons.
Summary: 5.15 miles, 1743′ elevation gain, 4+ hours, well-trampled trail, little snow with icy crust
In other news, my daughter Celia did my sleeping bag repair to enlarge it as a outer cocoon for winter camping. Details forthcoming on another post. I will be ready for the Mt Liberty overnight come the end of February. As Scott says, we can choose according to weather among the last two weekends in February 2020 (22-23 or 29-1Mar). I’ll be in Maine next weekend (15-17 Feb 2020), and we might do the Bigelow Range.