We arrived at the Flume Visitors center around 8:30am. After finding the trailhead at the
northernmost parking lot, we strapped on our day packs and headed for the Whitehouse Trail.
It was nice for once to start out on a bike path. I knew it would be more beneficial on the
way back. After crossing the Whitehouse Bridge, we quickly came upon the trailhead for the
Liberty Spring Trail. Now since we could not find the outhouse a park official claimed was
100 yards from the trailhead, we hopped off the trail to use the closest tree to relieve
ourselves. Coincidentally, that was when two groups of hikers, all women, decided to start
their day off. I felt bad for them, as their first view of the morning was me urinating on
a bush. Oh well, when nature calls, you must answer. After letting the ladies go on ahead,
we paused for a quick hit of H2O, plugged into our mp3 players and started up the mountain.
The first few miles of the hike were very enjoyable. It alternated between some pretty
good vertical ascents and then leveled off before hitting another ascent. The many river
crossings allowed for times to stop and enjoy the views and sounds of nature. I was
starting to wonder why the Trip Reports I’ve read we’re reading not to descend this trail.
Then about two miles in, I found out why. I would guess that at least the last mile of
the trail was an intense vertical climb, of which many parts were exposed rocks with water
running down them. I was leading at the time and was thinking to myself, I hope it levels
off around this turn. That happened about a half dozen times until I decided to take a
break and catch my breath. After a quick stop, we ascended the rest of the way up Mt Flume
until we reached the Franconia Ridge Trail. We had made it. Up to this point there had not
been any great viewpoints; most of the trail was covered by trees. That was all about to
change. The views along the Franconia Ridge Trail were spectacular. The clouds were very
high, and visibility was great. The views to the west were of the Kinsman’s and Cannon Mountain.
To the north were Liberty, Little Haystack, Lincoln and Lafayette. To the east were views of
Owl’s Head and the Pemigewasset Wilderness. As we took a break on the summit of Mt Flume, we
noticed the summit of Liberty was abounding with people.
After soaking in the views and a quick hit of water, we started the decent of Mt Flume.
I was a nice change from the Class 3 trail we just got off of. The jump from Flume to Liberty
was a little more than I expected. Being just over another 100 feet higher than Mt Flume, the
hike to Mt Liberty was no quick mile. But after 30 minutes or so, the views from Liberty were
starting to appear. At the summit, which was pretty much above tree line, there were great 360
degree views. After a break for lunch and some time talking to other hikers, we started our way
back down the mountain.
It wasn’t long before we got to the Liberty Spring Trail. From there it was an
enjoyable descent down the Appalachain Trail. We passed the Liberty Spring tent site which had a
permanent tent set up for rental. Looking back, I would have like to see how much room there was
inside the tent. It was soon after we passed the site that I noticed my feet starting to heat up.
So at our next stop I decided to adjust my socks and retie my boots. What a difference. Making
sure your shoes are snug for a decent is critical for comfort. It wasn’t long before I could hear
the traffic along Route 3 and the sounds of the Pemi. Before I knew it, the ground was getting more
and more level and we found the signs for the Whitehouse Trail. It was even better walking on the
pavement for the last mile than it was when we started. All in all, it was a great day. We knocked
of a few more mountains, saw some of the best views in a while and enjoyed a beautiful day.