Mileage = 9.9
The book is wrong again. It describes this loop as “Difficult”, but Roy and I feel it should be up, or maybe downgraded to “Strenuous”. It all had to do with going up on the Flume Slide Trail. What a killer!
We knew it was going to be an interesting day when we saw a dozen Search and Rescue units in the parking lot at 7:30 AM at the Trail head. They were gearing up for an actual search, likely of a dead 49 year old guy, who was last known to be somewhere out in the area, rumored to have been despondent and intent on suicide. Pretty difficult assignment.
Our hike started up the Whitehouse Trail, then onto the Appalachian Trail via a yellow birch forest along the Liberty Spring Trail. Going up!
Not quite. For the first 1.5 miles the trail was gradual up, quite enjoyable. There were at least a half dozen serious stream crossings that we successfully traversed. The woods tested our skills when we reached the Flume Slide itself, the last mile before reaching Mount Flume summit. Not only was it very steep, it was wet, due to 100% humidity as well as leaking spring waters dripping from and flowing over the broad and unusually steep ledges. In places it was suicide to try and walk across those surfaces, surely inviting broken limbs in the event of a side into the scary rocks below. What we, and apparently several others that had gone before us, had to do was exit the slide itself and take to the dense woods on either side to carry out a form of bushwhacking through the puckerbrush that was almost as sorrowful as continuing up on the rocks. So glad that I had my tall gaiters on.
But a couple of Lara bars and a good while later we finally made it to the Franconia Ridge trail, then turned north to scale the summit of Mt. Flume at 4326 feet. We didn’t see squat for views. We were somewhere in the middle of an actual cloud, but it was calm and not too cold.
We didn’t even stop, but moved on toward 4460 foot Mt. Liberty, here there were 25 people sitting around having a grand old time. Half were members of the Seacoast (NH) day hiking club, and the other half were the rescue-the-probably-deceased-guy team. Roy and I ate lunch here where a black lab ate a piece of my cheddar cheese, but being a quick learner, I held onto the rest of my food.
Here’s a short video of Roy descending from the summit of Mt. Liberty:
Then onto the AT via the Liberty Spring Trail, where Roy drank deeply from that Liberty Spring. It was an unrelenting 2 miles of downhill that was never dangerous, but demanding of our total attention. I love my Leki poles.
We made it back to the car by 2:30 PM. Both of us were plumb done out for the day. These Whites kick ass.
I staggered over to the coin operated hot shower back at our Russell Pond campsite, and after lathering up and slathering off, I flipped the handicap seat down, and just sat, savoring the last of the hot water washing my sins of the day away.
The rain finally hit just as Roy and I were cooking up supper.
Luckily, we both had umbrellas in our cars, and we used them as they were meant to be used as we spooned out rigatoni, meatballs, red sauce, grilled red peppers and summer squash, Parmesan cheese, and poured red wine for our getaway. We carried our plates carefully down to my VW Jetta, where we sat in comfort as we savored those uncomparable epicurean delights.
After we ate, we rousted ourselves sufficiently to ferry various piles of forgotten objects into coolers, boxes, and ultimately our vehicles in preparation for a stress free night of sleep in the tent. You’ve got to have a tent that doesn’t leak when it is raining this hard. We happen to have one of those, tonight.