Spungie Day Trip Logistics

Bob W. may be joining us on Saturday. Here's the main plan. Start time is tentative based on feedback from tMail, Spungie and other southern belles:

Meeting Time: 8am (more likely 8:30, but we'll firm this up later in the week)
Location: Lafayette Place parking area on east side of 93, the next parking area north of The Basin. This is the parking area opposite the Lafayette Campground, and is the trailhead for The Bridal Path and Falling Waters trails.

Route in Stages: Route Map (Click To Zoom)

  1. South along Rec Path to Liberty Spring Trailhead (about 2.2 mi, -250')
  2. Liberty Spring Trail (the AT) to Franconia Ridge (2.9 mi, +2850')
  3. Franconia Ridge Trail to Haystack, Lincoln, Lafayette (3.5 mi, +1000')
  4. Old Bridal Path down to parking lot (4.0 mi, -3,600')
Total Miles: 12.6
Elevation Gained: 3850' (not including ups-and-downs of Franconia Ridge)

Good/Bad Conditions Time Estimate:
  1. Rec Path: 0.5/0.75 hrs
  2. Ascent: 2.0/3.0 hrs
  3. Ridge: 1.7/3.0 hrs
  4. Descent: 1.5/2.25 hrs
Total Good/Bad Time: 6/9 hrs

Likelihood of reaching cars without headlamps: 75%
-- given a 9am start, sunset at 4:40pm & descent on west side of Lafayette

My bet: 7hrs, back at cars by 4pm, no headlamps, two pairs of goggles, 2L of water.

[Note 1, added on 1/16, 10am]
The surface around here is frozen, water-saturated snow at all elevations, that is: great solid base for crampons - no wallowing around in deep powder drifts. We didn't get a ton of snow on Monday and we don't have a forecast yet for Friday, but if we don't get dumped on we'll have really firm conditions under a soft top coat. tMail and I did this hike last spring in deep snow conditions and it was pretty slow because the ridge between Liberty and Haystack is below treeline and gets filled in with deep snow.

[Note 2, added on 1/16, 10pm]
Everything exposed on Mt. Washington that wasn't covered in snow was covered in ice on Sunday (the rocks, shrubs, etc.) This was true all the way down to tree-line on the Lion's Head trail. I wore crampons the entire time. Because I didn't bring poles, I couldn't use my hands to grip when working my way over rocks - too slippery. However, the ice was a thin coating and in general the crampons banged through to rock, dulling them. As you all recall, Franconia Ridge has many places that are iced in pools, as well as spots where an uncontrolled slide would be painful (the descent into the wooded col before the Lafayette ascent). I believe barebooting without an axe would be risky if the ridge is completely windblown down to ice/crust.

[Weather Update: 1/18, 7:15am]
Take a look at the weather for tomorrow (MWO Higher Summits Forecast). It is starting to look like we could be in the shit. I'll post a last minute summary tonight. Still unsure of footwear. Mixed precip tonight is unlikely up high and there is probably about 8" of snow that has been blowing around for filling in drifts - and it'll be blowing really hard tonight and into the early morning. I'm thinking of going w/out snowshoes and bringing my old, busted, crampons for banging on rocks.

Also, in a comment below, the PM has declared a possible arrival time at the parking lot of 8-8:30. Sounds like a great hustle.


  1. Recalling the Trip that MZ and I did last year from Liberty to Haystack can be difficult if you are breaking trail and trying to navigate (find trail). We had bright sunshine and relative warm temperatures. The going can be extremely slow if the snow is piled steep and if temps are very low we may want to avoid that section or option of this adventure if we are not generating enough heat through that section. Depending on conditions and what happens on Friday worst case is we leave out Liberty...and just ascend via Falling Waters.

  2. Get out your spray bottles folks, because it's going to take a lot of spritzing to get tMail's sand out.

    To hell with alternate routes. Unless we're at risk of death or injury due to zero visibility or lightening I say we man it out.

    'Option'!?!? How sandy can you get.
    ...although I agree. We can call it Saturday morning if we have to. I'll have the MWO higher summits forecast before I leave for the trail.

  3. Give me Liberty or Give me Death!!!

  4. Could multiple cars eliminate section one? That might keep us in the daylight, of course I haven't decided yet so...

  5. MZ...I am meeting MPM and Spungie at 7am at the Park and Ride we will most likely be at the OBP parking lot around 8:30-9am.

    I think we would save more time actually hiking to the start of the Liberty Springs Trail than having the multiple car set up...you would probably need 4 cars to make it work. Logistically you have to drive north pull a U turn to go south because of the location of the enterance for Liberty Springs and I am not even sure if you can get into that lot from the 93 South side.

  6. See you in the Lafayette Place parking lot at 8:30 then.

    MZ the Franconia Notch Rec path is 2.9 according to the AMC map I have. But logistically I agree with tmail that spotting a car is not all that beneficial since the parking for the Liberty Springs TH is .9 south of the TH. We may save 2 miles of hiking distance but have to deal with spotting the cars.

    Looking at snow in the Fri and Sat but doesn't look like anything major. How much usage does the FRT get between the Liberty Springs junction and Little Haystack? I'm assuming everyone's still bringing snowshoes?

  7. g-$$$! You rock! It'll be great to see you there too. The Liberty Springs Trail (the AT) gets a lot of traffic but I only have winter experience on that stretch the one time I went w/ tMail right after a spring storm. I'll probably wait until Friday night to decide, but I'll probably bring my mountaineering snowshoes only and bareboot the ridge if it's blown clean betw Haystack and Lafayette. If the snow's bad in the wooded section and the MSR's are wallowing I'll break trail.

    It looks like your 2.9 is a better estimate for the rec path. Regardless, it's a gradual 250' drop in elevation and should be a fast walk on a solid recreation trail. It's a great walk to warm up and chit-chat.

    9am start time is fine. I'll try to get there around 8:30 w/ coffee and paper in case we all get there early.

  8. See my additional note in the main post, dated today, 10pm.

  9. with spungie and bob(possibly) coming out....hell I'm almost obligated to go.

  10. I will see Spunge & Bob tonight at Diamond Hill. All in all, I think we're logistically sound and agree with MuthaZ that we should just man out the big loop (unless it's death weather.)

    Anyway... There may be snow pits with pungee sticks along the ridge line, trip wires tied to poop bombs and that there have been multiple sightings of the long-toothed snow ape in the Franc Notch area. Beware...

  11. tmail...hopefully not in the Irving boys room.

  12. G-$$$ it all goes down at the "Park and Rides" and in the Boys Room

  13. I will be meeting Spungie & Bob at 5:30am in Mansfield. I bet we'll be at the Pelham St P&R at 6:30am. This should put us at the Layfayette lot for 8/8:30am easy.

    Diamond Hill felt steep tonight. Too many wingies and Guinesses last night!!!

    Looking forward to Saturday.

  14. Spungie, Bob and I are meeting in Mansfield, MA at 5am and heading North from there.

    Tmail - meet at Pelham St at 6am (or a little before.)

    Get your winks in, it's going to be a good day out!