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 Ready for Franconia ridge hike! 
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Flatfoot
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Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2014 12:32 pm
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 Ready for Franconia ridge hike!
So, I have recently got into hiking the 4kers... Did Webster/Jackson loop yesterday and pierce/Eisenhower 2 wks ago. In the past I've done Osceola and cannon. I do have asthma (years since I've had an attack) and am a little slow on the steep climbs. I generally pass people going down.

At any rate, I really want to jump in there and do the Franconia ridge hike (falling waters/old bridle path loop) if I get a good weather day when I can make it up here. Question is: should I be doing some more intermediate hikes before attempting the ridge?

When I was younger (like, 10 yrs ago) I had to turn around on mt Washington and moosilauke-beaver brook due to a combo of asthma/steepness/not being used to hiking/trying to keep up with a faster companion. I seem to be making good times on my hikes recently (at the minimum expected time and below for short hikes like monadnock/kearsage/major/mt pemi/Willard).

By intermediate I guess I mean Jefferson, Monroe, Garfield, carrigain... Or should I just go for the ridge?

I guess I'm also a little nervous bc I'm a solo hiker and I don't have the best directional sense... Despite my attempts to follow signage, I ended p taking the wrong trail down Jackson yesterday, adding 3mi or so to my hike.


Another question: how late in the season does it make sense to attempt the ridge (I'm not a winter hiker at this point)?


Thanks!!


Mon Oct 06, 2014 6:44 pm
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You could get a dusting of snow or start to see some ice any time but probably through October it should be fine. You'll likely need some gloves, hat and jacket on the cooler days but may get by without them on nicer ones still.

I'd say go for it. It's shorter than Garfield, less steep than Ammo on Monroe, a bit shorter than Carrigain with just a tad more elevation and better footing than Jefferson. Really it's not that hard of a hike. The ridge is like a sidewalk almost and the whole thing is so scenic you'll probably take so many breaks to see the scenery, take pictures, etc it never feels like a hard hike in my opinion.

No need to worry about getting lost on this one either. Just follow the masses and well beaten trails. Between the foliage and Columbus Day weekend (which is also Canadian Thanksgiving I believe) it will probably be the busiest place in the Whites this weekend and most other times too.

I like counter-clockwise the best myself. You get to approach all the waterfalls and look forward to the high point before a more gradual descent down OBP. And, if it does turn out to be too much, the falls, Shining Ledge and the summit of Little Haystack make a worthwhile hike of their own.

Good luck!


Mon Oct 06, 2014 8:06 pm
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I second that! Going up the Falling Waters is beautiful. These were our first two complete 4k's (we got up Washington kind of late and had to take the van down weeks before). We did these in July 2000 and didn't even know about the list. We just selected it because it looked good on paper (the paper in several hiking guides :lol:). Just make sure you are prepared for conditions above treeline - bring your hat and gloves no matter how warm it is in the parking lot.

Another good thing about counter clockwise is that on your descent you can take a breather at the Greenleaf hut - good snacks, hot and cold beverages, etc.

Also, make sure you have a head lamp and extra batteries or an extra headlamp. Have fun!


Mon Oct 06, 2014 8:31 pm
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I'd say go for it. Even without a whole lot of experience, you'd have more than a large portion of the people up there ('cause those people don't have any :wink: :wink: :twisted: :twisted: ). At least from what I've seen the two times I was up there.

Just a note: If you do the loop counter-clockwise, do not go straight ahead down the summit of Lafayette- that is the Garfield Ridge Trail, a part of the Appalachian Trail, and it will take you down the north side of the ridge. You want to look at the trail junction sign and find the sign pointing toward the Greenleaf Trail, which descends the west side of the ridge to the hut. The hut closes for the season on October 18th, so if you want your food and drink, do it before the 18th :wink: .

Also- yes, you should bring basic winter gear, such as gloves, a warm hat, and plenty of layers, because the mountain weather is unpredictable. Example: I hiked Mount Cardigan at the end of October 2013, and there was snow, ice, and 20-30 mph wind. And Cardigan is only 3,155 feet high!

Good luck if you decide to tackle the ridge. Just be smart, use good judgement, prepare and pack well, and you'll be golden.

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Mon Oct 06, 2014 9:29 pm
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Hey, Spencer! Thanks for giving her the heads up on Garfield! I almost made that mistake the first time we went.

One thing, Boston nurse will not be lonely on the ridge in October!


Mon Oct 06, 2014 9:32 pm
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Peak Bagger
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Bring a map. You probably won't need it. But, you could be asking someone for direction who doesn't know where they are.


Tue Oct 07, 2014 4:10 am
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My way of looking at it is after Oct. 1st, anything goes in the whites. You can have a warm summer like day, or a freezing winter like day. A good rule of thumb for this time of year is start carrying winter layers.

Do you carry a map? It dosen't matter how well a trail system is signed, you should, ALWAYS have a map of where you're hiking on you. Some signs, not many, but some can be a little confusing. Referencing the map, to any said junction, should always point you in the right direction. That is, if you know where you want to go. :wink:

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Last edited by JustJoe on Tue Oct 07, 2014 5:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Oct 07, 2014 7:41 am
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One thing to add to some good advice already.

Get an early start..it will give you more time for a more relaxed pace, security that you will be done before dark and perhaps beat some of the crowds at the top.

I agree, go for it! This was the hike that got me hooked 2-years ago, now I'm obsessed.


Tue Oct 07, 2014 7:52 am
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Granite Guy wrote:
No need to worry about getting lost on this one either. Just follow the masses and well beaten trails.


:lol: Remember the couple groups durung our FOT48 Hike? The two on N Lafayette that we turned around in the right direction and the two guys Spencer had to give a ride. Looking back at the pistures, there is no sign at the summit of Lafayette for Garfield Ridge Tr. Just one for the Franconia Ridge Tr, and two (one facing north, the other facing south) for the Greenleaf Tr.

I ahve alway prefered the loop clockwise. Not that it really matters, but if going counter clockwise head towards Cannon Mtn when leaving the summit. Have fun, its a great hike! :D

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Tue Oct 07, 2014 9:10 am
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If you have trouble on steep climbs you might want to consider going up Old Bridle Path and down Falling Waters, since Falling Waters trail is much steeper. If you get lost easily, you may have the slightest bit of trouble finding the trail off Little Haystack (to get onto Falling Waters trail), but as Granite Guy said, usually there are a lot of people up there and you'll see someone else either descending towards that trail, or maybe coming up towards Little Haystack.

Also, regarding getting lost on Falling Waters trail....there are 2 or 3 places where you have to do stream crossings near waterfalls. It can be a little tricky to find the route in those spots. Just look for the blazes on the trees and you should be ok.

Otherwise, as far as fitness...if you've done peaks like Jefferson and Carrigain you shouldn't have any problems with Franconia Ridge.

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Tue Oct 07, 2014 9:47 am
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I do remember all that. Certainly you can make a wrong turn (3 actually I think) but I was assuming the person had basic trail following skills and the ten essentials including map and should have no issues. I always assume unless its a total newbie the person asking for advice has a map, water, food, clothes etc. Maybe a bad assumption. I just meant basically the trails aren't a spiderweb like the Northern Presis or Washington. Basically it follow FW and turn left. Follow ridge to Lafayette and turn left. Get to hut and turn left. :D


Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:12 am
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 Re: Ready for Franconia ridge hike!
bostonurse wrote:
At any rate, I really want to jump in there and do the Franconia ridge hike (falling waters/old bridle path loop) if I get a good weather day when I can make it up here.
...
Another question: how late in the season does it make sense to attempt the ridge (I'm not a winter hiker at this point)?


Sounds like you've got the range, and if you can tell left from right should be able to follow GG's directions easily enough :)

I'd be watching the MWO pretty closely right now.
http://www.mountwashington.org/weather/ ... recast.php

Sounds like ice is a possibility in the next few days. Though I think Franconia Ridge is usually a little less intense than the MWO Higher Summits forecast.

I really hate when the rocks look OK but theres a tiny skin of ice ,,, hard to see but easy to slip on ...

This time of year it can be tough to decide ...

A couple years ago I bailed on a Bonds trip because there was a few inches of snow; a week later it was like early fall and I made the trip. I was very happy the way it worked out ...

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Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:55 am
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Peak Bagger
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I think bostonnurse is in good hands with all the advice gotten here. I like this site because of this. New or old, you will always get good, unbiased advice from people who are experienced and encouraging.


Tue Oct 07, 2014 4:46 pm
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All sound advice.

Only thing ill add: if BobC can do it, so can you!! :lol:

Greg

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Tue Oct 07, 2014 6:07 pm
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On the subject of ice - this time of year you can have running water in the trail bed, but the rocks can be below freezing which can create frozen boot prints. Not usually a problem from your boots, but the person ahead of you may leave you what looks like a wet print but which is actually ice.

Tim

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Tue Oct 07, 2014 7:30 pm
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