Steve Sawyer, Mike, and I left one car at my proposed destination (Flume Gorge Parking) and drove to Old Bridle Path/Falling Waters Trailhead. We got going at 07:55. I put on my fleece, the wind was blowing in the parking lot and the temperature was just under 30 deg. We were behind a large party that took the right onto the Falling Waters, while we did a leisurely pace up Old Bridle Path. The trail started almost bare of snow, but less than a mile up the ice got tricky, so we all donned microspikes. However, Mike’s were only SnowTracs, which were going to prove to be compromised by the ice flows on the trail. By the time we got up onto the ridge, Mike was behind. I decided to go on ahead, as I wanted to do a longer hike.
I made it to the Greenleaf Hut at 2:15 and continued a little ways before switching to crampons for the ascent up Mt Lafayette. Actually the ice just past the Hut was worst, just crusty snow on the top. I reached the top after 45 minutes, switched back to microspikes, and set out along the ridge. There was little wind, even less than predicted. The sky was cloudless. On the ridge, I met a stream if hikers who had come up Falling Waters, which I reached at ~12:15. Mt Liberty was 2.1 miles more; I had come 1.7 miles along the ridge. I made it by 1:20. The three hikers on the peak took my picture posed on the top. Then I hiked, slowly, down to the car. Book time is 8:15; I took 7:55. I wore microspikes until the last part past the creek before Flume Slide Tr joins.
Charlie Abert had called me before I left saying he was not coming. I left Steve and Mike to cope with the icy trail early on. I passed many small groups of hikers on the ridge. I met the large group who had started just in front of us at the top of Falling Waters. I met nobody after Falling Waters until Mt Liberty. Very little snow throughout. Icy conditions of up and down slopes required light traction, and crampons were better for me on the last part of the ascent. The weather was simply gorgeous: clear sky, temps in the late 20’s, and little wind.
Summary: 12 miles, 4612′ elevation gain, 0755-1550=7:55.
–Fred (aka tarpman)