Friday, August 7, 2009

Franconia Ridge: Major Trail Highlight

8-3-09 day 62
start: Lonesome Lake Hut, NH
end: Green Leaf Hut, NH
daily mileage: 9.3
total mileage: 799.5

We were woken up a little early in the huts by the staff (we sleep on the dining room floor of the huts, so we get up around 6 when the staff start making breakfast) which was annoying given how late the day hikers all left for bed to let us go to sleep the night before. We put on our wet boots and expected the trail to be wet from the night before, but it was actually OK. Our moods began rapidly improving as we saw that the weather was actually looking like it would be gorgeous, and that we were soon to be hiking over the fabled Franconia Ridge. We took a while figuring out how the trail went over 93 (it goes under the highway by the river, BTW) and started our ascent above treeline.

We got up to a beautiful rock overlook for lunch (I mean, one of the best we've seen on the whole trail) and ate lunch there while we dried out our boots. When they were all dry and lunch was all eaten, we packed up, turned a corner, emerged from treeline, and faced one of the most beautiful views I've ever seen.

Franconia Ridge is incredible. It offers a 360 degree view along the whole ridge, which goes over Little Haystack Mountain, Mt. Lincoln, and Mt. Lafeyette. By now, it was a beautifully clear day and we could see for miles and miles in every direction. We could see Lonesome Lake Hut, the ridge we followed under tree line all the way around to meet up with Franconia Ridge, and we could see the trail that we had to follow to get to Greenleaf Hut (which was also clearly visible). It was breathtaking, and we literally could not have hoped for a better day to see it. The only downside (this will be the case for most of our days in the beautiful Whites) was the sheer volume of day hikers and other people everywhere.

After lingering on the ridge for several hours, we descended the 1.1 mile side trail to Greenleaf Hut. It was nice and early in the afternoon, and the hut is a mile off the AT along a side trail, so we got the Work For Stay with no trouble. The Croo (the staff) there was really great, and we just had to move some lumber for their log bridge and sweep up the cabin after breakfast in the morning. For this, we got lodging for the night and food for dinner and breakfast! Awesome!

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