Little Haystack, Lincoln and Lafayette - December 27, 2020

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Rhody Seth

Active member
Dec 18, 2015
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Charlestown, RI
I've been looking forward to get back to the Whites for some winter hiking (both official and otherwise) and was able to get up for three days after the Christmas holiday. Sadly, it was a 2020 Christmas which among other things brought a ton of rain to New England - stealing pretty much all the snow here in Rhode Island that we had accumulated the week prior. The videos I saw from the Whites showed impressive river levels which had me worried about the conditions I'd face. The trip reports I viewed the night before I left gave me a bit of hope but I departed for this trip in a weird headspace. I had wanted to get in several day hikes and also wanted to take a stab at hammock camping. I had got it in my mind to camp on Night 1 which was making my drive/gameplan stressful. Before I even filled up for gas I made the decision not to camp on Night 1 which made me realize I had more flexibility on where to hike. Suddenly I was looking forward to the trip again.

Looking at the weather reports, I decided to attempt the Franconia Ridge on my first day in part because it's a straight shot up I-93 and I had read a promising report on the Falling Waters trail. The primary reason was that the first day looked to have the mildest wind and temps. I figured if I was going to get above treeline this was the day to do it and then I could spend the bulk of the other days in the woods.

The lot was about half full when I pulled in at 11:30. I was happy to find that spikes worked well the entire way up the Falling Waters trail. I had never been on this trail and the falls were suitably impressive, especially with the ice formations that covered them. A good number of people appeared to have made the trip to the falls. There was indeed not a ton of snow but the spikes gripped well on the crunchy ice left behind.

Once I got up to the ridge, I quickly decided to take off the spikes. There was a bit of ice along the ridge and a couple near slips but for the most part it was bare rock and I would have destroyed the spikes in the process. Barebooting worked well. No views today - it was all clouded in - but the trail itself was visible and there was almost no wind. It was very quiet at times and since I started so late I didn't see a soul on my ridge walk.

The descent down from Lafayette was not as enjoyable as the ascent. Spikes were necessary for the initial descent but there was enough bare rock to be annoying. Eventually the spikes came off again as I approached treeline. I passed a few intrepid folks still ascending but most of the folks I encountered were on their way down. The best views of the day came as I descended below the clouds. I could see open skies to the south. The setting sunshine was poking through the clouds closer which made for a beautiful scene in the late afternoon.

The Old Bridle Path seemed to have much less snow/ice than Falling Waters and trying to avoid rocks and dirt grew wearisome. I finished the hike just after nightfall and drove to Lincoln to grab some grub before making my way to my motel for the night. All in all, an enjoyable return to winter hiking and I was very happy with my time above treeline. Thanks for reading and here's a video of my hike for those interested.

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