I decided it was high time I climbed Mount Lafayette, having bracketed it on the previous three Sundays. Three weeks ago I skied the slopes near Moosilauke, to the south; two weeks ago I skied and climbed to the summit of Owl’s Head, to the east; one week ago I hiked to Lonesome Lake, to the west. (Not to mention hiking the Kinsmans last October.) Each time I looked longingly at Lafayette, the queen of Franconia ridge all white with winter splendor, I felt the urge to get back up there before winter ends.

Today woke bright and blue, with summit temps hovering near zero and with stiff winds.  I left early, cheated out of an hour by the change to Daylight Savings Time.  The trail was well-beaten by dozens of previous hikers on this popular route. Indeed, I met at least four groups that were planning “the loop”, heading up Lafayette, then down the ridge to Lincoln, then down the Falling Waters trail.  I recall that loop, and the challenge it poses to these old knees, and opted for a simple up and down.

photo of David at the first overlook, with peaks in the background
At the first overlook, with Lafayette (left) and Lincoln (right) in the background.

A glorious day indeed, with azure skies punctuated by wisps of cloud.  As the first overlook gave me a good look at the summit, it was immediately clear that the wind was going to be fierce on the ridge.  I pressed on, passing all but one group, and reached the summit before noon.  I didn’t stay long!  It was not particularly cold (maybe in the teens), but very windy (my iPhone decided it had had enough cold and shut down before I could finish my photos).

photo of David near the summit
Nearing the summit.

On the way down I stopped outside Greenleaf hut, where three others were resting. I immediately recognized a hiker who had stumbled into our birthday party at Lonesome Lake last week. Cool coincidence!

The hike slide down was super fast, because earlier hikers must have had butt-sleds, and the trail had turned into, quite literally, a luge run. On the way up I grumbled at these hikers, but on the way down I could not resist the temptation, and slid quickly down long sections on my butt.

As a final treat, on the drive home I passed a series of “snow donuts“, which had rolled down the steep slopes along the highway.

I posted a few photos and videos.   Where to, next Sunday?

Author: dfkotz

David Kotz is an outdoor enthusiast, traveller, husband, and father of three. He is also a Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.

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