Date of Hike 11/11/13
Trail: Falling Waters Trail
Due to family work schedules, I only had a short window first thing in the morning to hike. The higher summits forecast for the day said: in the clouds with snow showers, temps in the single digits, winds 60-80 mph rising later, heavy squalls possible later with a windchill advisory (-25 to -35). Thus I hoped to have a rare experience in a popular place, solitude while photographing the fresh 2-6 inches of snow that had just fallen on the Falling Water Trail.
Driving through the notch at 6:45 am I93 was a sheet of thin ice, but with low gear and no brake usage I made it to the popular Franconia Ridge trailhead safely. I thought to myself, surely there won't be many people headed up today? Just as I was about to set off, I chatted with a pair of hikers who said this would be their first time hiking it in the snow. I cautioned them about the forecast and said as an experienced winter hiker I wouldn't do the whole loop today. They seemed to have adequate gear though, they decided to still head up and I wished them luck. They were by far the most prepared people of the day. As I hung out at the various falls for a few hours photographing, I encountered about 10 parties. All had tiny or no packs, non-waterproof sneakers/trail runners, jeans or mesh shorts, no traction. It was icy!! Some were starting at 10am. I only cautioned the first few of these groups, as a I gave up doing so feeling like an @$$ and that it wouldn't have mattered. I prayed that the forecast squalls would not hit till later and/or that the brutal windchills would trigger the common sense to turn back. As I drove home, I felt very guilty and a little scared that I could even somehow be held civilly liable if one of these parties needed rescue/ didn't make it. Since the Hike Safe code posted in green at the start of the loop says to "share the code with others," would I be in trouble for not doing more?
What do you guys think, should I have done more?
Anyway, here's some of the highlights of the day:
low flow allowed me to set up the tripod low right in the stream
Cloudland Falls, the main event
Headed back down a cold and snowy falling waters trail. Clearly a good day for sneakers a water bottle in hand.
Oh well, now that I know (assume) nothing too bad happened I can mentally enjoy the experience of hanging out at these falls I have whizzed by ten times before whilst peakbagging.