One of the two hikers was on her yearly trip to the Grandparents house this week which meant hiking with the little one. He was super excited to go without his older sister and had been planning the trip with me all week. He’d heard tales of the Greenleaf Hut and ridge line hiking from Caitlin and wanted this to be his trip this week. After his performance on the Osceolas last week, I knew he had it in him, plus we had multiple bail points just in case! I’ll try to make this blog more picture heavy and less wordy since we’ve covered this particular hike before!
We got going a little later than I’d wished from south of Boston. We hit super slow HOV lane traffic, plus the car didn’t have enough gas to make it to Franconia Notch both of which slowed us down. We did stop at the Common Man rest stop above Hooksett again for gas and the restrooms. Again this place comes highly recommended by the two hikers (and Geoffrey).
Finally at the trailhead just after 9:15 and it was busy! Weather was forecast as hot but good with no chance for thunderstorms and temps in the 80’s to 90’s in the valley. I wish we had gotten here earlier as parking in the far end of the lot surely is not a good sign!
Up the Falling Waters trail and off towards Little Haystack. We met several groups of hikers up this route today running from large families to young teens to some retirees. Of course there were lots of waterfall pics…
Then it was up on the switchbacks towards the Shinning Rock spur trail.
A bit of a mess at Shinning Rock this time. We searched for the Shinning Rock geocache that Caitlin and I had found and it was gone. No sign of it anywhere! Geoffrey was super disappointed and wanted to go back down at that point. I did a bit of motivational speaking and we were back on our way to Little Haystack and were there in another 25 minutes.
Geoffrey was pumped and the disappointment of not finding a geocache had melted away! The summit was beyond packed. There was at least 20 other people up there and hikers streaming up the Falling Waters and Franconia Ridge trails. I realize how summit sprawl into the alpine zone happens. People were everywhere. This was the exact opposite of what Caitlin and I had experienced a few weeks before when we had the summit to ourselves. We stopped for summit snacks and sandwiches. After 20 minutes at the summit we headed off for Mt. Lincoln.
We passed several hikers coming from Lincoln on the way and passed several others heading towards Lincoln. A couple of older hikers stopped Geoffrey and were asking him how someone that small had made it all the way up there. They were extremely encouraging to G and quite funny. In no time we were at the summit of Mt. Lincoln and Geoffrey had his first 5000′ footer! We paused briefly for summit snacks again. This peak was less crowded with maybe 5 or 6 others sharing the top with us. After 5 or 10 minutes we headed off to Mt. Lafayette. We briefly stopped at Mt. Truman (unofficial) between Lincoln and Lafayette.
We were off again to Lafayette and the trail was really getting crowded now. Super surprised about this on a Thursday, but the weather was perfect so I can’t blame anyone here. I’d hate to think what this would be like here on a nice weekend day. This makes me realize how lucky we have been to be able to do this on Thursdays!
In no time we were at the top of Lafayette. The place was a zoo. There had to be at least 50 people scattered all over the summit!
Geoffrey was in a hurry to get his brownie at the Greenleaf Hut so we headed down after a brief stay on the top. Love the trail down here to the Hut. Steep drop in the alpine zone to the dwarf pines that eventually leads to the hut.
Seems like it was all leading to this moment for Geoffrey as we arrived at the hut. Well deserved brownies, some type of tasty fruit bread and lemonade were had by all. This time it was much nicer to take our time and not have to rush due to weather. The hut was also quite busy with at least 10 or 15 folks inside for a pit stop. Again, the complete opposite of my last experience where Caitlin and I were the only ones in the hut.
Eventually we headed out and down the Old Bridal trail towards the trailhead. It was getting hotter as we headed down and the Agony Ridges were roasting hot. We were grateful for the tree covered sections and spent little time in the open areas with views as G was so hot. A couple of times I dowsed his head with water from my water bottle to cool down.
So at the bottom we switched our boots for flip flops and headed for a short walk back up the trail to cool off in Dry Brook. Cooling down ensued..
After a nice cooling off in the stream we headed out. I made up for not finding the Shinning Rock geocache by getting one at the Old Man of Mountain viewing site (it’s just off the handicap parking area). We also took a look at where the Old Man used to be. They have a very nice representation of what it used to look like before it crumbled.
On the way out we hit our old standby of the Woodstock Station Inn and then Coneheads for ice cream. These two places are highly recommended by the Two Hikers and Geoffrey (see multiple prior posts). Back to Boston after a successful trip!
Dad’s Trip Tips:
Trails and Planning: Nothing big to add from the last trip here. The birch blowdown at .1 miles in from the trailhead was still there and not a huge obstacle. Classic White Mountain hike that is an excellent and aggressive day hike. I still highly recommend saving the Greenleaf Hut for the return trip as the lure of brownies and lemonade can motivate the young ones more than the peaks sometimes. the croo was great once again. The big difference today was the crowds. The number of other hikers caught me by surprise for a Thursday. It did not diminish the hike, but if you are out for solace, you probably aren’t (or should not be) on the Franconia Ridge trail.
One big negative today was that I saw a ton of trash on and just off the trails. Much more than my earlier hike with Caitlin. This was everywhere from the trails up and down and on the ridge. I picked up a bit and hiked it down to make a point to Geoffrey that it is all our responsibility to keep these places wild and pristine. If you are reading this, please pick up your trash and maybe some other trash that you encounter on these trails. I’d like my kids to be able to enjoy this with their kids in 20 or 30 years from now.
Kid Factor: Geoffrey was a trooper! Minus the disappointment of not finding the Shinning Rock geocache, which disappeared in about 30 minutes once reaching Little Haystack, he was a rock star. He is the slow steady hiker taking few breaks but maintains a nice pace for such a little one without much in the way of encouragement needed. Your experience with little ones will vary I’d imagine. After Osceola I had a good feeling that he’d do just fine here and he did! For kids this little (G is 5) I’d make sure you build up to this with shorter shakedown trips to find out if this is going to be appropriate for your little one. See our experiences with Mt. Tecumseh and the Osceola posts and in addition he had been hiking the Blue Hills south of Boston since he was 2. He loved the waterfalls, peaks and the hut so this trail had enough excitement to keep him going throughout. Cooling off on a hot day in the mountain streams was a great thing for both of us. You could just hike in and cool off in any of the streams on a hot day and not even head to the top!
Equipment: I finally had time to get G some proper hiking boots. I was going to go with lower tops with him, but after a couple of places not having his size, we went with the higher top Merrills. He raved about them all day! All of the same things go for equipment needs on this hike as I spoke about with this same hike with Caitlin. Carry enough water, have emergency gear, rain gear and layers. It was a 90+ degree day in the valley and it might have been 65 tops on the ridge trail with a nice cooling breeze, so adjust that for the forecast when you hike. The National Weather Service out of Gray Maine also has a higher summits recreational forecast daily that is useful for this as well.
Other Tips: Again geocaching has caught the kids attention and they seem to love it just as much as the hiking at this point. While something happened to the one near the top of the hike, there were plenty of others in the notch to choose from and it got us to other parts of the valley we would not have usually visited.
Up Next: Kinsmans or Tripyramids with Caitlin next week (G is getting his week in NJ next week)
4000′ Footers Completed to Date:
Caitlin/Dad: Liberty, Flume, Tecumseh, Lincoln,* Lafayette,* Osceola & East Osceola (7)
Geoffrey: Tecumseh, Osceola, East Osceola, Lincoln* & Lafayette* (5)
* 2x for Dad