My favorite quote from John Muir says it all. Sometimes the mountains are just calling my name.
Last weekend was a long weekend here and we headed up to New Hampshire on Saturday. I was scheduled to do a ‘short 30 mile easy’ bike ride on Sunday but in my mind and my heart, I had bigger plans. I typically ask my coach for permission to do such a thing (like changing my workout), but I didn’t bother because I knew what the answer would be ‘Kristin a 10 mile hike is too much volume for the end of your recovery week.” I am one to always follow my plan, to a T, but I just couldn’t last weekend, I needed to be in the mountains, my happy place.
We had been watching the forecast for Sunday and it wasn’t looking too great in the higher elevations. Being in the Northeast, most of the NH mountains are 3,000 to 5,000+ feet in elevation. Todd and I are currently working on our 4,000 footer list, which is the (48) 4,000 foot peaks in NH. We have completed 32 of them and have 16 to go! The list includes all mountains in NH that are at or over 4,000 feet. It’s considered a badge of honor in these parts of the woods to hike all of the 48.
Our game plan was to wake up early on Sunday and meet our friend Steve (Todd’s best bud from College) to go hike Mt Wambeck, one of the 4,000 footers that we still had to check off our list. This hike is about a 1.5 hour drive north of my parent’s house. We picked this hike because the views aren’t supposed to be that great from the summit, and it’s quite wooded… the forecast was calling for rain showers and clouds. As we started our drive into the White Mountains, the sky started to open up and I instantly wanted to do a hike that would give us the best views possible! I could tell it was going to turn into a beautiful day and I wanted to take advantage! It was a very split second decision (we were literally one mile from the trail head), but I made the decision to do Mt Flume and Mt Liberty instead. This would be a 10.1 mile loop hike in Franconia Notch, which is one of the most beautiful locations to hike in NH. Todd and I had done this hike before, years ago, but it would be the first time for Steve. The only time Todd and I hiked these mountains, it was cloudy and we didn’t see the views clearly… this prompted me to want to hike it even more!
Here is a little recap of our hike:
Peaks hiked: Mt Liberty (4,459 ft) and Mt Flume (4,328 ft)
Total Distance 10.1 Mile loop hike
Trails: Whitehouse trail, Liberty Spring trail, Flume Slide trail
The brave souls: Myself, my husband Todd, our friend Steve, Dogs: Aspen, Steve’s dog (lab mix) and Oliver our dog (westie)
We started at around 9:00 AM from the Whitehouse Trailhead parking lot. We had to walk on a short bike path (.9 miles) to get to the Whitehouse trail (.6 miles) and then Liberty Spring trail (2.3 miles). Once we got to Liberty Spring, we took this rocky/steep trail up to Mount Liberty. Most of the trail was completely uphill, at times not letting up. I was jealous of our four legged friends, Aspen and Oliver, who made climbing look so easy! People often ask me if we have to carry Oliver when we hike (he’s about 20 lbs with short legs). My answer is no, because he is a tenacious little dog who has been hiking since he was a puppy! We always make sure he has enough food and water for the hikes and I like to think that he loves it as much as we do!
Climbing up the Liberty Spring trail
Here is a map of what we covered during our hike:
Once we got near the top of Liberty, I was beaming with excitement. I love that moment when you are about to summit a mountain. There is a sense of accomplishment and thrill. I wish I could bottle up the feeling of being on top of a mountain, especially one that you worked so hard to summit. It makes all of the hard work and sweat worth it.
Here are some photos from the summit of Mt Liberty:
Our little hiking family
From Liberty we hiked 1.2 miles to the Summit of Mt Flume.
Oliver the hiking westie!
Livin’ on the edge!
- Todd, Me & Steve
Looking from the summit of Flume to Mt Liberty (where we just were!)
From the Summit of Flume, our choice was to either retrace our steps back over Liberty and go down the way we came (via Liberty Spring) OR take the VERY step Flume Slide trail down Flume. Both ways were about equal in distance to get back to our car, but the Flume Slide is treacherous and not recommended on the descent. Most people go up the Flume Slide trail and hike the loop the reverse way we did (Flume first and then Liberty). I did not realize this until we were hiking up Liberty (oops!). We had lots of people tell us along the way that going down Flume Slide is not recommended, especially during spring when the rocks are wet and slippery. We decided to take our chances and try the Flume Slide.
If I could do it again, I would not have gone down Flume Slide.. it was the steepest trail I have ever descended and it was very wet (hence why I have no photos of us going down the trail). We had to duck into the woods often to avoid falling on the slippery rocks. The dogs did great, us humans on there other hand were having a difficult time. The steep and dangerous section lasted for about a mile, and then things got ‘easier.’ All in all, the hike took us about 6 hours (including a nice lunch break on the summit of Flume). It was a fantastic day and probably one of my favorite hikes to date! I seriously could have stayed up on those mountains all day long. Hiking in the White Mountains is my true happy place. I am so grateful for my strong legs and heart that allow me to hike these majestic peaks.
Do you hike where you live? What are you favorite things about hiking?