A panoramic 180-deg view looking from the top of Falling Waters toward Cannon Mt and Old Bridle Path
A panoramic 180-deg view looking north to south from Mt Lafayette
I took advantage of the forecast for clear skies for the classic Franconia Notch hike up Old Bridle Path to Mt Lafayette, across the Franconia Ridge to Little Haystack, and down Falling Waters. The vistas were superb, and the trails well packed.
I got an early start at 8am. One Himalayan (I think windriversjohn and his dog Pepper) caught me along the upper ridge; he looked more ancient than I, murmurred a hello but was past and out of sight in no time. When I reached the Greenleaf Hut, two other Jack Rabbits caught me, one with a sleeveless shirt and lean and jolly appearance. They had done in 1:20 what took me almost 2 hrs. The three of us headed toward the summit a few minutes apart. I managed to almost stay with Jack Rabbit #2 until the final ascent where I had to change from poles to ice ax before scrambling to the top. He took the final slope with one stumble but just a laugh. I had pangs of slipping back down the hoary path to oblivion. Luckily the new purchase of a Black Diamond Raven ice ax gave me the needed confidence.
I found the two Jack Rabbits resting in the lee of the peak in fresh snow and intoxicated with the blue sky and gorgeous views. We compared notes on the joys of the Whites, our recent adventures, their prowess on the trail, politics in general, the advantages of winter hiking, and the pros and cons of the various web sites for trip reports. I told them I'd alert them to a composite site for trip reports called Trails-NH, which combines Views From The Top, Rocks on Top, and Hike-NH into a GIS-tagged map with chronological listing of reports. The final topic brought us to formal introductions: Fred, Mutha Z, and Puppet Master (PM). We enjoyed the comradery. They are happy fellows. After a 10-minute respite, Mutha and PM started back down and I started across the Ridge, which was tractable with the microspikes I had been wearing. I'd forgotten my gaiters, so I stopped mid-traverse to change into dry socks. I met two others at Mt Lincoln and kept on to Falling Waters for the descent. No ice on the way down and warming temperatures, so the trail got slippery at the end.
Summary: Old Bridle Path, Franconia Ridge, and Falling Waters, 8.9 miles, 3900', 7:15, faster than book time up, then leisurely pace, good meeting Mutha Z, and Puppet Master on Mt Lafayette, gorgeous day with great vistas.
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Sunlit Falling Waters on a near-freezing afternoon
Falling Waters near the base with well-equipped pack