White Mtn. Hut to Hut - Part 2 (July 15, 2003)


Help Support vftt.org:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

Pete Hogan

New member
Sep 10, 2003
Reaction score
Saratoga Springs, NY
After a less than restful night in the uppermost bunks (third level), we assembled for breakfast. Due to our deferred arrival at the hut, most of the lower beds were already claimed. However, the altitude of my bunk would not have mattered anyhow. Along with the first day’s images that kept replaying in my head, my excited anticipation for the adventures of the next stage contributed to a near-sleepless night. For me, it was another “night before Christmas!” Besides, the extra time we spent lounging and savoring the serenity of the late afternoon on Lafayette’s summit was worth every minute!

We left the hut at 8:45 AM and returned to the summit of Mount Lafayette around 10:00 AM. Once again, rather than push on immediately, we took our time enjoying the views and each other’s company before traversing Lafayette’s north ridge. In the distance we could clearly see the black smoke of the Cog Railroad puffing up Mt. Washington. We could also see the rocky top of our next peak, Mt. Garfield.

The Lafayette Ridge was every bit as impressive as the Franconia Ridge. The rugged and rocky terrain of the ridge had all of us measuring our steps as if we never wanted this section of trail to end. It wasn’t so much the distant views that overwhelmed us, although a glance up from the trail was simply astounding. It was almost too much for the senses to truly appreciate. The stunning green cast of the lichen-covered rocks, along with the various shades of green of the alpine plants and grasses, combined to paint an unforgettable alpine portrait. For many of us, this was our finest hour.

Disappointed to leave the rugged beauty of the rocky ridge behind, yet thankful for the protective canopy of the forest, we began our long and grueling trek toward Garfield and our next hut, Galehead. By 1:00 PM we needed a lunch break and after forty-five minutes of camaraderie, laughter and replenished energy, we reached the spectacular summit of Mt. Garfield at 2:30 PM. The views were remarkable in all directions, but especially into the wild and remote Pemigewasset. From Garfield’s lofty peak, we could clearly see and appreciate the extent of the topography we had hiked from Mt. Lafayette. We also got a sobering look at the daunting task before us. Far in the distance, barely visible, a tiny white speck appeared in a sea of green. It was Galehead Hut, tucked in the col between the summits of South Twin and Galehead Mountains. It was far enough away for us to question whether we would reach it by nightfall, let alone the 6:00 PM dinner hour. I guess it didn’t faze us that much, for we spent forty-five minutes enjoying Garfield’s glorious views and each other. Realizing the physical challenge of the task ahead and choosing to remain on the magnificent summit of Mount Garfield to embrace that moment as long as we could was the hallmark of this remarkable group of people.

Hiking has been one of my passions for thirty years. One of the many rewards it offers is the physical joy realized from the effort, strength and perseverance needed to reach a mountaintop. I am also deeply affected by the emotional and spiritual high gained from the view. However, the initial rewards of personal achievement (while still satisfying) have been superseded over the years by far more gratifying and enduring qualities. I now have an inspiring sense of pride, respect and friendship for the people with whom I share these great places. This group of experienced, but first-time-together hikers rallied around each other and offered cooperation, companionship and compassion. Regardless of where we were and what had to be done, this group always took the time to fully appreciate and value each other in addition to our surroundings. That thought will remain with me long after the images of summit trophies have faded.

Before leaving the summit of Mt. Garfield, we were treated to another wonder of Mother Nature - fir waves. In the distance, just below the North Twin/South Twin ridge, were the silvery designs of dead balsam firs flanked by regenerated fir seedlings on one side and the declining mature forest on the other. This process of maturation, death and regeneration is a natural phenomenon called fir waves that actually “move” up to five feet per year.

We covered the three miles from Mt. Garfield to Galehead Hut in two hours and fifteen minutes. Not bad considering the extent of the ups and downs of this challenging route. The group arrived at various intervals, but none late enough to miss the outstanding meal that was waiting for us. We had just enough time to secure our bunks and get ready to eat. Dinner started with loaves of homemade bread followed by thick, hearty minestrone soup and then a fresh green salad. The main course was baked ham with mashed potatoes. Apple pie with coffee, tea or hot chocolate completed the feast. We were all impressed and thankful for the quality and quantity of food served at all meals.

After dinner some of the group made quick work of Galehead Mountain, covering the one-mile round trip distance and 250 feet of elevation in about forty-five minutes. Others enjoyed another spectacular sunset perched on the huge erratic just outside the dining room windows. Unlike my lofty bunk position at Greenleaf Hut, I had a lower bunk, but restful sleep escaped me again this night.

End of Part 2.