A Perfect Day in the NH Whites: Franconia Mountains

A Perfect Day in the NH Whites: Franconia Mountains

January 6, 2019 6 By Ciara Groesbeck

Ever since moving to New Hampshire, traversing from Lafayette Mountain to Flume Slide was always on the ‘to do’ list.

Well yesterday was beyond perfect doing just that. The wind was below 5mph, the skies presented various bursts of colors throughout the day and my buns were simply on fire; working hard to get us to our destinations.

Lafayette, Lincoln, Liberty and Flume– each one of you made my day complete.

Let’s Set The Scene

Alarm clock rings at 3:20AM for a 4AM departure (Luckily, Erik is my alarm clock– so no obnoxious noises here). I feed the boys, lace up my boots, haul everything to the car and off we went– heading North to The Basin parking lot.

The lot is empty with a slight chill in the air and billions of stars shining bright. I put Musher’s secret on the boys’ paws (that they then proceed to then lick off), put my various layers and gadgets on and we start walking on the bike path for 2 miles until we reach the Old Bridle Path trail head. This lot is not empty, but we manage to sneak onto the trail without any

Making our way up Lafayette, loving every bit of it!

followers and make our way up the mountain.

After a pouch of Muir I am happily rejuvenated and finding myself in complete awe with our glistening surroundings.

It doesn’t take long to pop up over the trees to get wild views of Cannon Mountain to our left and the beautiful Franconia Ridge to our right. When there are views this great, I find I stop every few minutes to nab another peek– it just never gets old.

Looking over at Cannon Mountain, the gondolas were in full swing!

After ascending the steep humps (there are three of them!) we made it to the hut! Green Leaf Hut that is.

Up Lafayette

Unfortunately the hut closes in the winter time, but there were a few people outside, gearing up for the summit weather. We said good morning and continued up the trail, Lafayette so close in sight. 1.1mi to the summit, the sign read, which I had a hard time believing since the mountain top appeared to be within reaching distance.

Green Leaf Hut with amazing backdrop

We were quickly joined by the father-daughter duo (that were at the hut), who sported identical white/orange jackets. They were very friendly and equally excited to be so high, and yet have the conditions remain so pleasant. We followed close behind them, but continued on without them for when they reached just below the summit their spikes were having a hard time digging in.

Thanks to Erik, my brand new Hillsound spikes gripped the hard pack snow/ice and I gracefully walked up the side of the mountain; Boone & Crockett close in tow.

Going up Lafayette, Lincoln making an appearance to the side of me!

The four of us huddled in the shelter, ate a few dates, guzzled some water then made our way down and across to our next destination; Lincoln.

Over to Lincoln

The ridge walk was breath taking. It is most fun to watch the little ‘ant like’ people on a far peak get closer and closer, until they are standing right before you. We did this the whole way across- watched as they marched our way, to then greet them and wish them well.

There were some narrow parts of the trail, that didn’t deter any of us (Boone included!). Instead, it was fascinating to see how far we had come, and just how high we truly were. Our bodies so strong and so capable of getting us to these places.

Erik, ridge walking over to Lincoln

On to Little Haystack we went, meeting loads of nice people along the way. This loop is said to be one of the most popular in all of NH, but I think we were very lucky to only experience a few.

Down & Up To Liberty

From Little Haystack, we cut left into the dense forest where snow continuously fell onto my neck. Normally, I would complain, but it was so mild that the cold actually felt refreshing.

Making our way through the forest from Little Haystack to Liberty.

Now was the time that the spikes came off and the snowshoes went on. I was actually excited to try out my new Tubbs! They were fantastic. Let me tell you– I will forever own a pair of shoes with the heel elevators..what a life saver!

It didn’t take us long to pop out only 0.3 miles from the summit of Liberty. We switched back into our spikes, bypassed the summit (saving it for last!) and headed on down the trail to Flume.

And Then Way Over To Flume

After a brief encounter with two adorable, friendly and well-behaved Brittany spaniels, we encountered dozens of people. We probably passed 25-30 on our way to Flume, but everyone was in such good spirits. When you are in nature, surrounded by this dreamy, lush white forest..how can you not be in good spirits?

Flume Side aweing us

Flume only had a small group of people to which Crockett excitedly walked into– begging for some loving, nudging for some treats. Luckily, these people adored them both!

As I could feel the ache in my legs from the days travel, I gave Erik the look of “I’m ready” and after a few picture snaps back to Liberty we went.

We managed to run a bit on this trail, but because it was so narrow I found myself tripping and slipping more times than not, so walking it was.

Liberty Again, Then Down

Back on Liberty, we were greeted with more friendly people, hoping to take pictures of the boys and chat about their own pets at home. I love these conversations because I can totally relate to being obsessed with your pets.

Liberty Survey Marker

The sun was low in the sky and ricocheted off of the clouds, making the sky a golden. After one last glance mental picture and appreciation, we said our good-byes, departed the summit and prepared for major butt sliding.

My laughs and ‘woo-hoos’ could have been heard from miles away. I butt slid for over a mile over the course of a few minutes. We cruised along as Erik beasted down the trail, gliding every step of the way. It was an absolute blast and brings me back to childhood every single time.

We made it to the bushwhack, were happy to see the bike trail once again and even more excited to see the parking lot.

Time to undress, eat all the produce and get ready for a car ride home filled with awesome music and momentary headbanging.

The Sun Setting On This Beautiful Day

Just as we were about to get into the car, our friend Mick (that we met on Liberty) made his way to our car. We were more than happy to give him a lift back to his car, as the sun was quickly setting and he still had another 2 miles to go.

Golden Hour

We chatted about the beautiful skies, and all the mountains we have experienced, about where we had been and what we were planning on doing next. We wished each other well, glad to have met and hoped to run into one another again in the future.

The Subaru (Erik) drove into the cotton candy sky, as we sipped coconut water and popped grapes in our mouths two at a time.

Until next time, Franconias.


Stats for the day:

Mountains Enjoyed: Lafayette, Lincoln, Liberty Flume (And the ones in between!)

Distance: 15.12 miles

Elevation Gain: 5,994ft

Starting Time: 5:55AM

Ending Time: 4:13PM

Total Time: 10 hours 18 minutes

Happiness Meter: 10/10


Happy Trails and Happy Tails,

Ciara, Boone & Crockett