Pemi Trail / Liberty Springs Trail / Franconia Ridge Trail
8 Miles 3050’ Elevation gain
Kevin, Judy and Emma
Every trip report I promise myself that I've sworn off lists. Every trip report I find a new reason to be hiking some sort of list. We're one check mark closer to finishing our Autumn list and one check mark closer to finishing our October list. Off the top of my head, I'd say we were closest to finishing the October list on "The Grid", not that it matters, as we're not hiking for lists, ha-ha. As is often the case, the beauty laid out before us at or near a summit is reason enough to hike, and this hike was no different.
We left on Friday morning for the mountains after an inch of snow knocked out power Thursday night. The plan was to do some small hikes Friday and Saturday and save it up for a hike of the Tripyramids Sunday with a friend who was finishing her 67. When we left there was no mention of snow in the forecast . By Friday afternoon there was a forecast for "Snowmageddon" on the radio waves. We wondered what, if anything, that meant for our plans. By Saturday morning we decided we would blow off the hike Sunday and use the better weather day to add to our dwindling Autumn list.
Surprising to me, Mount Liberty was one we had not been to in Autumn, and the trailhead was right down the street from where we were staying. With a nice "Alpine Start" of 10:30, we were off along the Pemi Trail towards the Liberty Springs Trail. I hedged for a moment to make this hike, remembering the relentless uphill slog that never seems to level off. For some reason it didn't seem bad at all to me this time, and there seemed to be lots of places that leveled off that apparently I had forgotten. I think maybe hiking this time of year in the cool weather with no bugs and no humidity goes a long way to making hikes more pleasurable for me, and I'm sure for Emma and Judy as well.
We passed only a half dozen hikers descending as we hiked up, and as usual, someone recognized Emma. As we gained the ridge and approached the summit it was apparent that we'd have awhile on the summit to ourselves. The sky had taken on a silver sheen and the sun was a dull glow behind the veil, what we call in New England a "Winter" sky, a sure sign snow is coming. Visibility was good in all directions and the surrounding snow-covered peaks stood out against the bleak sky. To the northeast Washington was wrapped in a white scarf of clouds, still visible as he braced for the oncoming storm.
A few hikers joined us briefly at the summit before they were on their way. As we descended I was thinking we probably wouldn't see any more coming up, as we had started so late. Much to the contrary we ran into several large groups. I'll refrain from mentioning what my thoughts were on their equipment, leadership and starting time. Let's just say that should they make the papers, then I might tend to agree with some of the slings and arrows aimed at them in the comments section of the Union Leader. Shoulder seasons in the Whites are no time to venture forth unprepared or ill equipped, but if you're reading this, you already know that.