Unique Conditions on Lafayette

03rd February 2016

On the last Saturday of January, I was able to take a trip up 5260' Mt. Lafayette in Franconia Notch. I was actually not even sure the extent to which I could hike that day given some family situations. I was going to pick a more tame hike, but chose to pull over at the Franconia Ridge trailhead when I noticed interesting clouds, lighting, and fresh snow on the trees. It definitely looked like it had the most photo potential for the day, and the forecast was reasonable. Off I went!

About two miles up the Old Bridal Path there area a series of open ledges that provide views.

Despite being late morning, there was still very interesting lighting.

A hiker peers across Walker Ravine with the cone of Mt. Liberty poking up over the shoulder of Little Haystack Mountain.

Great lighting by Mt. Liberty as the low angle winter sun squeezed under the clouds.

That lighting didn't last too long, and soon clouded over entirely.

Looking up the rest of the "Ridge of Agony" towards the white summit cone of Lafayette. Time to head that way!

Higher up, before the hut, there are some views west. The frozen lake is Lonesome Lake, with Cannon and Kinsman Mountains visible at right, and Mt. Moosilauke visible far left. An interesting cloud bank covered the Ridge of Agony I had just climbed below.

After a few steeper sections I finally arrived at 4200' Greenleaf Hut, closed for the season of course.

There are good view up to Mt. Lafayette and Franconia Ridge over Eagle Lake. Notice the dots that are hikers making their way up.

Beyond the hut there is an interesting "pencil spruce" forest:

Many of the trees were covered in beautiful rime ice:

A dramatic look back at the clouds scraping the slopes of Cannon (with ski buildings) and Kinsman Mountains in the distance. Greenleaf hut on Lafayette is seen at the bottom right, along with some dots that are hikers.

A few more tenths of a mile finally start to break above treeline for good.

A looks up toward the summit cone

I made it to the turn just below the dark rocks in the photo above, roughly 4700-4800. It was getting late and I was really only out to get some photography and time in the mountains. I have climbed Lafayette in the calendar winter before (under much colder/windier conditions), and in almost every single month, so I felt no need to touch the top.

Time to head back down:

A big cairn leads the way.

A great unexpected trip above treeline!

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