Franconia Range via (see post for trails...) - 4/27

NH Tramper

Apr 10, 2012
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North Conway, NH Avatar: Cannon Mtn.
Trails: Skoocumchuck Trail, Garfield Ridge Trail, Franconia Ridge Trail, Flume Slide Bushwhack, Flume Slide Trail, etc...

Date of Hike: Apr. 27, 2013

Trail Conditions: Ascent started on the Skoocumchuck Trail which was mostly dry with bit of mud here and there. The crossing was easy. As we gained elevation we started seeing a bit of snow, and it got deeper as we went up, but it was packed down and still cold enough in the morning to get away with bareboots. There were a handful of not-quite-annoying blowdowns, easy-overs if I recall. When we reached the exposed Garfield Ridge Trail all the snow was gone and we had easy going all the way to the south side of Little Haystack Mtn. on Franconia Ridge Trail. Between Little Haystack Mtn. and Liberty the snow was much softer with lots of deep postholes present. Traversing this section is best done on snowshoes. This is not quite the case between Liberty and Flume and we think that's due to a harder pack from increased traffic. That said, if it stays warm it'll get worse before it gets better so be prepared if possible. For the descent of the ridge we tried something new: a bushwhack down the Flume Slide (the real slide, not to be confused with the Flume Slide Trail). It looked inviting so we went for it. At the end is was a bit difficult due to deep snow, running water, steep sections, and dense trees, but it was a lot of fun and we made it (onto Flume Slide Trail) which was pretty much the same as Skoocumchuck Trail though softer at day's end. We avoided the slabby trail slide but were informed it was quite icy. The lower sections after the slide gave us a mix of snow, mud, even a little ice. There were also a couple of blowdowns, one a large 'whack around. The crossings were doable, even easy some might say, but did require some care to negotiate. Exit from there was a non-event. Mud and dry sections and that's it.

Special Equipment Used: Snowshoes, as noted, might be helpful, as would be spikes, but only in a couple of places. Crampons might be needed if taking the Flume Slide Trail itself. Trekking poles were very helpful for making the crossing. Safety glasses might also be useful due to the in-your-face canopy in the still-deep snow sections at elevation on the ridge.

Comments: Hiked this long-planned adventure with friends Bill Robichaud, Allison Nadler, and Brenda Vail. On Liberty we ran into Becky and Mark Metea as well as Allison Conboy (great seeing all you guys). On exit we also ran into Dan McGinness coming up the trail. He was embarking on a moonlight traverse of the ridge. Very cool (hope you did well, Dan). What a terrific day for a hike -- super nice!

ETA: Skoocumchuck Trail had TONS of moose sign (tracks and scat). Plus we encountered a kill spot of some bird, maybe an owl -- feathers everywhere.

Mike "Tramper" Cherim
Nottingham NH
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