Trip Report: Mt Liberty and Mt Flume

A perfect view from two!

Mt Liberty and Mt Flume, Lincoln, NH. 2018-03-27. (Tuesday)

Via Whitehouse Trail, Liberty Springs Trail, Franconia Ridge Trail.

20 dF +/- at the trailhead, 45 at the summit. Unbridled sunshine. Wind at summit was 2-4 knots. Just enough to stay cool whilst enjoying my summit feast.

Trailhead: 0755; Liberty Summit: 1115; Flume Summit: 1210; Liberty Summit redux: 1320;  back at car: 1525.

Quite frankly, it was a hell of a day to be outside on the trail. I was getting chilled with the initial preparations (putting on my boots, etc) but once under way, warmed up fairly quickly. On the Whitehouse trail, a mix of ice and snow-becoming-ice, but the way going was easy on MicroSpikes. I’d brought snowshoes out of an overabundance of caution (and with memories of Middle Carter fresh in my mind) but they wouldn’t be needed this day. The trails were in fantastic shape throughout: monorail that was very nicely compacted, no real abundance of post-holes, and what glazing I saw on the steeps was very easily managed with my ‘spikes. I walked over the snow, not through it.

Babbling brooks easily crossed, I paused to examine the alluvial sorting taking place. Slowly, rocks are getting sorted according to size by the patient hand of the flowing water. I pressed on as the trail steepened, still in the bright deciduous forest, occasional beech leaves littering the snow. Moving deeper into the trees, I left behind the sounds of the vehicles passing through the notch and entered the quietude of the forest.

JL taught me about the spiraling action that the spruce trees will undergo as they grow into the prevailing wind, and it’s this spiral that both weakens the wood, but makes it more flexible and better able to safely yield to the wind and snow. Throughout the forest, I saw evidence of this. The trail was good and steep at this point, taking a nearly straight line up the mountain. From time to time, at particularly steep bits, I saw evidence of glissading, thinking that would be an option on the way back. In colder weather, this would be frowned upon for the glazing that it does to the trail, but with the snow beginning to melt in earnest, my progress was unimpeded — perhaps even enhanced a bit.

I paused to inspect the tent site. There was still two feet of snow on the platforms, and evidence of recent camping.

At the Franconia Ridge Trail, a pulse of excitement: the summit is near. The trees became shorter, almost krummholz-like, and the blue sky did more than just filter through the tree-tops. Its expanse became larger by the minute, and then I was standing on top.

And what a view! I gazed upon Cannon, looked down upon Owl’s Head, was awed by Mt Washington and the rest of the Northern Presidentials. Rested on a warm rock and had a quick snack, and then pressed on toward Flume.

And another view! Out as far as Mt Monadnock, 90 miles away. Lincoln and Lafayette, Tripyramid, and Moosilauke. Some birdsong filled the air from white winged crossbills, zooming about. After not hearing those dulcet tones for months, it was very welcome indeed.

Back through the col, I paused to clear some blow-downs from the trail. Not perfect, but a start, and a healthy tree is no doubt doing better for the effort. And then back over to Liberty, and onward to the car.

It was the kind of day that made me very happy to be outside enjoying it. It was the kind of day that I want to come back to and enjoy again and again. It was the kind of day that I’d have been upset had I missed it.

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