First 5ks of the list!
#6 Lafayette 5,249ft and #7 Lincoln 5,089ft
Trails: Old Bridle Path -> Greenleaf Trail -> Franconia Ridge Trail -> Falling Waters Trail
After a nice loop around Mt Hale we were hoping to do some awesome ridge hiking to get in some views. The weather people had the clouds clearing out around 10am, perfect for us as that is when we would be getting towards the top of the ridge. We thought about backpacking an overnight but a low of 30degrees at elevation we decided on just staying at the Lafayette campground at the trailhead. Made for a lighter pack which was nice. It was also nice knowing after a long day we wouldn’t have a long drive.
We decided to go up Old Bridle Path on the off chance we were feeling awesome to do the whole ridge (go all the way to Flume). It was a good trail up and had a couple good spots to stop and see the ridge. A bad part was the higher we climbed the more we saw the clouds still obscurring the peak. This is another trail with stairs made of rock. You know it’s steap when they said, well stairs would actually make this easier…
About a mile from Lafayette peak you get to Greenleaf hut. A pretty nice hut. And a great place to stop have a snack and keep thinking about why you can’t see the top of the mountain because of those stupid clouds. And why do people keep coming down the mountain in gloves and hats and winter gears? Uh oh. Better get the clothes in more convenient place.
With the quick break we started up the mountain. And that’s when we started getting a little worried. Clouds, litterally in the clouds. It was windy, cold and starting to rain a little. A couple clothing changes and we were at least all right to keep going. Although the number of people we passed going up that were obviously cold was less than encouraging.The clouds weren’t leaving. The wind got worse. And it was crazy weather. You coud see the clouds coming over the top of the mountain and swirly down the other side. Not much to see past the sign post. And mum huddled next to it pretty much sums up how we felt.
We soldiered on though. Being above treeline also means that there is little to no breaks from the wind. There were enough rocks to sit behind and get a quick snack or water though. The surprising part of this was how many people were still on the trail that day. It was really crowded and it seemed we spent more time stopping for people to come by us or for us to get by them. The trail is pretty narrow at parts and there were lots of big groups of people. Even worse were the kids who though shorts and a hoodie were all they needed. Some very cold people were up there that day.Sad part of the trip is we don’t really know which peak was Lincoln. There are a couple false peaks and it was just so gross that we just kept moving. But then it was clear. We got below 5k feet and the clouds were just above our heads and we could see the rest of the ridge trail. It was incredible.
And here was where we asked, continue on? Or head down? It was getting late and we were tired from the cold and the crowds so down we went. They weather was definitely nicer at the lower elevations. This was a decently steap trail to come down (normally people go up this and down old bridle because of it). Falling waters trail is really pretty. Lots of small waterfalls when you get to the bottom. This does make for some slick going if you’re heading down the trail so footing was a little tricky at times. It’s also wierd to see people all nice and in shorts and clean and happy and here you are still with a winter hat and exhausted/cold from being above treeline.
Back towards the bottom of the trail we were looking forward to a night at camp with a nice hot dinner. Being up on the ridge we didn’t stop for a full lunch because of the wind/cold/rain. We got towards the bottom around 4pm so plenty of time to set up the tent and get firewood and smores. Since all I was thinking for the last 2 miles of the trail were smores. And since I have such a nice mom we traded and she went foraging for supplies while I set up the tent. We really do this arrangement since she doesn’t really know how to set up the tent. There was just one issue when she got back though…neither of us can really build a fire. However being the wilderness people we are we made it work! Sure it took two tries but we made it!