Flume and Liberty

Submitted by Pat

Mountains: Mts. Flume (4,328) and Liberty (4,459)
Date: June 16, 2006
Time: 8 hours
Miles: 10.74
Elevation gain: 3,672
Steps: 34,167
Trails: Liberty Springs Trail -- Flume Slide Trail -- Franconia Ridge Trail -- Liberty Springs Trail
Holy Shit Factor: high

Picture Gallery

The adventures of Pat and Nancy continue. We bag two more peaks today: Mounts Liberty and Flume. After watching Tropical Storm Alberto all week, Friday dawns with clear skies, sun, and warm temperatures. What a gift! We meet in Keene at 6 a.m. and eat breakfast on the road. The drive up is uneventful, except for just wanting to get to the trailhead and get going.

We hit the trail at 8:41 a.m. and walk the short span before reaching the bike path. A couple of tenths of a mile later we turn off onto the Liberty Springs Trail. I did a lot of research on the Flume Slide Trail before we decide to do it. It rained hard earlier in the week and I am concerned the rocks will be too wet to climb safely. But we both want the challenge so badly that we just decide to go for it. We walk through sun dappled greenery, low branches encroaching on the trail. It is obvious that the Flume Slide Trail is not one of the more heavily used trails in the Whites. The first couple of miles were very civilized. Bird songs accompany us as we cross several brooks before finding ourselves at the bottom of the slide.

For some reason I think that the trail is going to be much more exposed than it is; instead the trees and woods bordering the trail are very close and very handy. The rocks are wet as I had suspected so we are especially careful before putting full weight on every foothold. And, yes, we do some bushwhacking through the woods on the sides of the trail. We almost miss the right hand jog but someone has built a cairn and that helps. I love how my body feels as I pull and push my way up the side of the mountain. We feel great and love the challenge.

When we finally poke our heads above tree line, a crisp breeze and an incredible view meet us. Wowsers. The craggy side of Flume is breathtaking so we sit in the sun on a warm rock, take off boots and socks, and eat lunch on the summit at 12:20 p.m. We are almost finished when a couple of women with a very friendly Retriever arrive at the summit for their lunch. We start for Liberty a little before 1 p.m. - the summit looks so far away.

We descend for what seems like a long time before we finally begin ascending again. The view of Flume through the deadfall on our way up and seeing how far we had come in so short a time rallies our spirits and we hit the summit of Liberty at 1:45 p.m. What a beautiful peak! I love the rocks and the views. Take lots of pictures, sit on another warm rock and gaze with awe at the beauty surrounding us.

The Liberty Springs Trail down is not as difficult for me as the Old Bridle Path was when we descended Lafayette. I take several doses of Ibuprofen during the day, stay hydrated, and take out the poles for the steeper parts of the descent. It is a beautiful walk in the woods, not too wet and the footing is solid. Lots of rocks but not too many loose ones. We hit the parking lot at 4:43 p.m., feeling tired but good. We sit on the curb enjoying a cold drink before actually lying down on the sidewalk and letting the sun and the day and our accomplishment sink into our tired legs. It feels soooooo good.

We are hoping to take next Tuesday off to climb Galehead and Garfield. We are hooked!

6 of NH 48
6 of 67 in NE
6 of the NE 100 Highest