Hiking the Franconia Ridge Loop

A weekend of hiking and camping in New Hampshire

September 18, 2016

Getting Out of the City

After an extremely busy week of work and a poor night of sleep, I pack up the motorcycle and ride up North of Boston to my friend John's house to prepare for a weekend of camping and hiking in New Hampshire.

We'll be staying at a campground both Friday and Saturday night, so we head to the grocery store to stock up on food and snacks. This is going to be a very comfortable camping experience.

Arriving at the Campground

After a short 2-hour drive North, we reach Campton Campground in New Hampshire. It's time to buy some fire wood, setup the tents and get dinner prepared.

Getting a Fire Started

I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos about fire building recently. One trick I saw and have been wanting to try is using a pencil sharpener to create very fine wood shavings for kindling, so I gave it a go.

I had some flint and steel to create sparks, but I had a hard time getting the wood shavings to ignight. I did, however, manage to get a newspaper to ignite with the flint and steel, which allowed me to get a nice strong fire going in under 15 minutes, without the use of any lighters, matches or lighter fluid.

We got dinner cooking over the fire (roast potatoes and salmon), enjoyed some Corona, and made s'mores later on in the evening.

The Night Sky

Later on, I played around with some long exposure photos of the sky.

Making Breakfast and Getting on the Trail

In the morning, after a surprisingly decent night of sleep, we made hot coffee and eggs for breakfast. We then set off for the trail, and thus the hike began.

The trail was very busy, which was discouraging at first, but it turned out to be just fine. After about an hour and a half of hiking we started to get some nice views.

The Ridge to Come

Almost at the top of the first peak, we get a nice view of the ridge we'll be hiking along a little bit later.

Three Peaks

This hike has us crossing over three mountain peaks: Little Haystack, Mount Lincoln and Mount Lafayette (the final and tallest peak).

We reach our first real vantage point. The panorama below shows the ridge we'll be hiking, up to that taller peak (Mount Lafayette).

Hiking Along the Ridge

This looked and felt a little like a scene from Lord of the Rings. It was epic and beautiful up there along the ridge.

We found a cool little cove hidden away just off the trail, which became our lunch spot. We had pouches of tuna in olive oil with canned chickpeas, mixed together. It was tasty and surprisingly satisfying.

Mount Lafayette Summit

This final peak was deceptively further away than we thought. It looked like a short walk from our first vantage point, which already felt pretty high up, but it got steep and rocky and that slowed us down. The summit was beautiful and very windy.

Down the Mountain

I always find descending harder and more taxing on my muscles and joints than the climb up. Sure, it's faster, but it always sucks more. It might also be partially due to the mental aspect – the goal was reached, the reward delivered, now it's just time to get home.

We pass the Greenleaf Hut on our way down. The last time we attempted to climb Mount Lafayette it was the middle of Winter, everything was covered in ice and the hut was looking much more grim than it did today. We aborted that climb because I didn't have crampons and couldn't make it over all of the ice.

When we made it back to the car it was almost dark. We contemplated going back to camp and trying to cook dinner in the dark, but opted for a local pizza joint instead. Good call.

I had a hard time getting a fire going (suspicion: damp wood) and we were pretty beat, so it was an early night. I started to rain shortly after getting into our tents. It wasn't the most enjoyable night of camping, but the comfortable and successful previous night made up for that.

Driving Home

It's a damp, grey morning and I'm looking forward to a nice hot shower when I get home. We get some hot coffee for the road and end up discussing our next challenge: Mount Washington.

The Camera

Fujifilm X70

The camera I used for this hike was the Fujifilm X70. I purchased this camera with the hopes of simplifying my camping/hiking/travel photo setup, and it did exactly that.

It's super small, fitting into the back pocket of my jeans for most of this climb, and I found the 28mm equivalent field of view surprisingly perfect for capturing scenes the way my mind was framing them while out hiking.

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