Today’s blog is from my friend Tom Simard, who hiked a different part of the White Mountains this past weekend. Thank you Tom for hiking five mountains along the AT in the Franconia Notch area: Mt. Garfield (4,501′), Mt. Lafayette (5,249′), Mt. Lincoln (5,089′), Little Haystack (5,089′) and Mt. Liberty (4,260′). I really appreciate your help in covering this section of the AT that I can’t get to any more — as well as your photos, which show everyone just how beautiful this part of the country is!
My two-day hike of the Franconia and Garfield ranges along the Appalachian Trail started on Saturday, July 15th, under sunny skies along a deceptively easy and picturesque trek through the Pemigewasset Wilderness. The Lincoln Woods and Franconia Brook Trails had once been logging roads, and many old railroad ties and spikes exist to this day. The first 8 miles were relatively easy, though soggy from days of rain and several brook crossings. I arrived at the Thirteen Falls Tentsite just before 1pm and learned from the AMC caretaker that two large groups would be staying there overnight. I decided to trudge on, hoping to reach the Garfield Ridge Shelter before the predicted rainstorm arrived. As I approached the steep ridge to the Appalachian Trail, the skies opened up and I was drenched before I could get my poncho out. The deluge ended as abruptly as it arrived, and a few hours later I came upon the welcome sight of the Garfield Ridge Shelter. There I stayed the night with many thru-hikers, including David whose trail name is “Goliath” and who had met Rick and his team several days earlier. He was so impressed with Rick and what he’s setting out to accomplish (as we all are!) and asked that I pass along his admiration and best wishes.
The next morning, I was up with the sun and decided to have my breakfast on the summit of Mt. Garfield, a 45-minute scramble up the ridgeline. From there I could see my destinations for the day – the peaks of the Franconia Ridge: Lafayette, Lincoln, Little Haystack and Liberty. Had I known how exhausted I would be later in the day, I would’ve eaten a bigger breakfast! It took a while, but by 12:45 I was at the top of Mt. Lafayette and enjoying a well-earned lunch. The peak-bagging continued with a long descent along the ridgeline. By mid-afternoon it was clear to me and my weary legs that I would be better off taking the trail down from Liberty to the notch road, where a fellow hiker and good Samaritan offered to take me from the trailhead to the Lincoln Woods Visitor’s Center where I’d parked my car the previous morning. Two days, five peaks, and 21 miles later I’m looking forward to a few “zero days” in Vermont where I’ll be resting, taking some vitamin I (ibuprofen) and following Rick’s amazing journey with all of you.