Franconia Ridge Loop up to Little Haystack and across to Lincoln and Lafayette

There were three us who were itching to ski as Christmas was upon on us in two days. The eerie feeling of no snow that lie ahead was out of the ordinary. We chose to embrace the beauty that was within each step on this snowless day. Our friend Mike is 40-something deep into his quest of all 48 of the 4,000′ foot peaks in New Hampshire. While he has done these three a few times, it gave Dan and myself the chance to hit all three in extremely favorable Winter conditions. Topo of FR loop

Even with no snow, Micro Spikes were a must have for some sections of the up and down. Parts of this hike were revisited from my younger years and my immediate feeling was: why hadn’t I done this loop sooner!

We set out from the Lafayette Place Parking Lot just off 93 in Franconia Notch. Headed up the Old Bridle Path for .2 miles to the Falling Waters Trail which is 3 miles to the Franconia Ridge trail, part of the Appalachian Trail. While anywhere past the first sets of falls would be misery for kids under 11 or so years old, the first couple of swimming holes (about a mile up) are a realistic hike (away from crowds) and a great reward for the youngsters and parents alike.

Things can get a little tricky with water crossings thrown in before it gets steeper… Along with the ice flow coming down the the trail in some sections.

IMG_6364IMG_6370Again, this is where the Micro Spikes shined as we just stuck to the ice with ease before mellowing a bit prior to the climb out of the trees up to Little Haystack (4780′).

Once up to the top of Little Haystack the trail intersects with the Franconia Ridge trail providing inspiring views in every direction. It made for a nice lunch spot looking North towards Liberty (4,459′) and Flume (4,328′).


North to Liberty and Flume


We then turned South to head towards Lincoln (5,089′) before heading onward to Lafayette (5,260′) to complete 1.8 miles across the ridge. Still in awe with the clear weather and the snow free ridge trail, we continued along like it was early Fall. We were all smiles as the clouds rolled by in a harmless manner. Certainly a rare Winter experience in the Whites.    IMG_6396 (1)

Up to Lafayette we went to finish off the uphill portion of our day. This is the part where you get that extra step regardless of how your legs may feel…gotta love adrenaline!


Lincoln to Lafayette

We remained for a while on top of Lafayette taking in the spectacular 360 degree views before heading down the Greenleaf Trail back to the Old Bridle Path.

We made our way to the closed Greenleaf Hut (circled below) 1.1 miles for a quick snack. From the hut we had another 1.1 miles to the Old Bridle Path. What a 1.1 it was through some epic clouds that flowed over the trail and surrounding ridges. Seeing a bare Cannon Mountain on 12/23 was a little freaky…as of today though, they are 43 trails strong with fresh snow on the ground and more on the way.


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The steep, rocky descent was no match for us after coming down from the clouds. However, damn glad we had hiking poles. The remaining mile or so towards Franconia Notch was refreshing after the ups and downs of covering 8.3 miles over 6 hours. It could be done in less time but we were taking our time taking it in.

Any fairly active person, if not up for the whole loop, can make the hike up to Lafayette and back via the Bridle Path to Greenleaf Trail which is no easy walk in the park covering roughly 3 miles up and 3 back. If the weather is good, your good, and it’s still early in the day make it a loop.

This a hike to be revisited with friends and family in the years ahead.




Always have a beat on the weather

Rock the right gear, hydration, & food

Stay within your limits







Camping away from the crowd…Canoe needed!

I have been thinking about where I would like to camp with my family this summer. Typically the only way to get away from the crowd is to go backpacking for a few days. With a small child that can be done but I would like to bring along some “car camping” comforts that wouldn’t normally make into the pack. We have some great spots we have gone in past years but I am looking to mix it up and have found a spot I would like to share! It does require enough extra effort that no matter where it’s published you will still find your peace and quiet.

The destination this summer will be Green River Reservoir State Park about an hour North of Burlington, VT. The 653 acre body of water boasts 19 miles of undeveloped shoreline. The 28 designated camp sites require a one to two mile paddle to reach. The paddle alone is enough to eliminate the people factor.  A weekend of hiking, reading, teaching my girl how to fish, and relaxing in the hammock along the water sounds like the perfect match.  I assume swimming is frowned upon as it’s a reservoir but I am sure there are swimming holes within a short hike.

Need a canoe? There is a canoe rental place close by the reservoir although I couldn’t find a website (actually even more appealing!) I did find Country Canoe Rental contact information on the google machine.

I will be sure to post a trip report after we make this happen. If you end up there this summer please be sure to let me know about your experience!

“Hike to Remember” 51 miles complete!

What a hike! We finished our “Hike to Remember” yesterday at 4:00 after a beautiful hike up over the top of Mount Monadnock to top off an amazing effort over four days.  We started at Mount Sunapee and made our way to the Max Israel Shelter on the first day. Ben Cutler joined us for the first day and overnight and Mike Rosen and his wife Tamar joined us on the way up Sunapee  and lunch overlooking Lake Solitude. The 14 or so miles took us ten long hours giving us plenty of time to think about what we could ditch to lighten our loads! Although we had to hike into the darkness with our headlamps on we were thankful to have not had that same hike in the  morning.

Day 2 we woke up slowly and were all eager to get as much sleep as possible therefore a later start to the day then we wanted but we had some motivation waiting for is 5 miles down the trail and into Washington center. Our movie friends were on the town common to root us on and most importantly Mom was waiting with a much anticipated lunch. The Monadnock Sunapee Greenway does go through the quaint villages of  Washington and Nelson providing the picture perfect backdrop for a Fall day in New England and convenient resupply points!

While lunch was ever so nice and relaxing we had to pick up and get a move on towards our goal of reaching Pitcher Mountain before dark. We ended up getting into a groove and made our way just past Pitcher to the south facing blueberry pastures. We had the perfect and taunting view of Mt Monadnock in the distance. It was just the right spot to take in all the stars but did leave us open to the cold wind. We hunkered down as the view overruled the cold.

Pitcher Mtn south facing blueberry pasture

Waking up on a cold morning of Day 3 and getting the coffee going was priority number one for this crew. We knew we had a long day ahead and another food resupply waiting in Nelson. Okay, so what if we had two resupplies and we were out there only four days…it made for lighter loads and fuller bellies! It was a day of many different eco-systems and a day spent mostly on the cattle paths of yesteryear. Beautiful stonewalls from over a hundred years ago lined the trail in many areas. I couldn’t help but think about soldiers that hiked the same path to head south to fight in the Civil War or even the Redcoats prior to them. Anyway which way, the terrain was gentler and gave us the ability to cover a lot of ground. With our sights set on Day 4 we pushed over 15 miles on Day 3 to get to another shelter which was the 6.8 mile mark to the summit of Mt Monadnock. We ditched the shelter as we preferred the water view from our hammocks.

Kristen maxxin' it out

Day 4 we woke up early to the fog rising off the pond much to the delight of my camera. One of those scenes you try and figure out all the manual options on your camera looking for the one defining shot. I may have missed out on the perfect fog shot but managed a really cool cloud reflection photo. For many more trip photos go here.

We had a nice approach to Mount Monadnock up the Dublin Trail which was a first for me as I have always gone up the Pumpelly Trail or the front side trails. This was the pay off for all the miles we put on and a welcome view of the summit was near.  We went from only seeing a few people on the trail over the four days to full on holiday weekend bonanaza of hikers going up and down the mountain. Giving you a feel why people say it’s the most hiked mountain in the world due to it’s accessibility. From scout trips to ill prepared families they kept on coming and all with the idea of enjoying a beautiful Fall day in New England. We we were treated with a perfect view of Boston just under 100 miles away although clear  enough to see the cityscape defined by the Hancock and Prudential towers.

Jamie, Kristen, and Rob on top of Monadnock

We can’t thank all those that help to support us in anyway from gear to donation to kind words of encouragement. You all have inspired us to push to create a further awareness of early onset of Alzheimer’s and to raise money for a the Skip Curtis Fund at Boston University Alzheimer’s Research Center.

A special thanks to the following companies that were incredibly generous in their support of our cause: Oakley, LL Bean, LuluLemon, North Face, Steripen, Patagonia, First Ascent and Kayland hiking boots! .

Hike to Remember this week!

We have made some alterations to our hike and will be hiking the Monadnock Sunapee Greenway starting at Mount Sunapee and making our way south to Mount Monadnock instead of vice versa.  We will still be doing the 51 miles just changing our start! We will begin our hike on Friday October 8th. We have some great people looking to join us for the first day and look forward to having them get us started! We also look forward to making our way to Washington, NH center on our birthday, Saturday,  for some birthday cake.

We have raised just shy of $5,000 so far and we are looking to double our efforts in fundraising this week!

Our Father dedicated his last 5 years to studies and drug trials at  Boston University- Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center to help those that will become effected in the coming years and beyond. The least we can do is carry on and build on my Dad’s efforts and sacrifices to help others when he knew he couldn’t help himself.

Donations can be made the following ways (be sure to mention Skip Curtis Fund when donating):

1 ) Online via the Boston University School of Medicine Alzheimer’s Disease Center
make sure to note that the gift is for the Skip Curtis Fund in the comments section.
2 ) Check: please make your check payable to the “Trustees of Boston University School of
Medicine” and note the Skip Curtis Fund in the memo line. Then send to the following
address: Boston University School of Medicine Development Office, 72 E. Concord
Street L-219, Boston, MA 02118.
3 ) Other, if you are interested in making a gift of stock or have an interest in learning
about other ways you can support this fund, please call Harriet Kornfeld, Director of
Development at Boston University School of Medicine at 617-638-5676.

Thank you in advance to those that have already donated and to those that plan on contributing to our efforts.

Oakley Polarized Split Jacket

A huge thank you to Oakley for sending out some phenomenal shades to support our “Hike to Remember”.

I received a pair of Polarized Split Jackets (Matte Rootbeer) late last week and haven’t taken them off since. As some may know I love my shades and these are truly the most amazing pair of lenses I have ever had on my face. The sharpness and clarity of the polarized lenses is unsurpassed and can only imagine how the foliage will pop with these bad boys on.

I have been wearing them on my commute to work to try them out and will never look back.  What impressed me the most was the ability of the lens to stay clear even in the driving rain.  I’m in the school of thought to always have eye protection while riding rain or shine,  light or dark.  The ease of these interchangeable lenses is unlike interchangeable lenses I have worn in the past. The VR50 low light lenses brightens up the darkest days or evenings making it a great companion to the Tungston Iridium Polarized lens option.

The fit on my face is ideal and I wouldn’t want it to be any bigger (Jawbone). I was in a rush please excuse the lack of smile! While these are a “sport” shade it’s hard to not wear them otherwise!

We all look forward to taking it all in behind our new lenses….thank you, Oakley!

Kayland Zephyr Boot

I had perfect weather and the perfect companion joining me (my baby girl) for a training hike up the White Cross trail at Mt. Monadnock yesterday. I took the opportunity to try out my new Kayland Zephyrs, which Backpacker Magazine chose for it’s 2009 Editor’s Choice Awards.

I had roughly 40 lbs on my back with baby and carrier which provided the perfect test weight for my new Kayland’s. Out of the box comfort can be deceiving at times with various boots so I threw in the added insurance of  heavy weight merino wool socks.

On the way up I was impressed with the ankle support and that my heel was locked into the footbed with no slipping. This is a lightweight hiker that felt just as light as many low cut hikers I have worn- yet a lot more stable. Folks familiar with the White Cross trail know you need shoes that will stick to the massive granite glacial deposits. The Zephyr was up to task scrambling up the steeper sections and inspiring confidence with every step. I also loved the wrap around piece protecting the toe box and the lower parts of the boots from abrasion.

The Kayland Zephyr uses a eVent waterproof layer that breathes exceptionally well.

After a nice lunch on top and my daughter’s first peak bagging experience we made our way down. This is where the Zephyr really shined. There is a floating piece that seems gimmicky at first look but it’s amazing how it moves with your foot on the downhill preventing rub on your Achilles. This was a highlight because it helps reduce the probability of blisters and makes it feel like a glove on the foot.

The other welcome surprise is the design of the lugs on the vibram sole. It’s hard to describe but you could feel tread working for you on the way down. Maybe not as noticeable with less weight on the back, but with the 40 or so lbs on my back it was a difference maker.

I look forward in putting this pair of hikers through the paces on our “Hike to Remember”!

Thank you to Kayland for supporting our efforts in spreading the awareness of early onset Alzheimer’s Disease.

“Hike to Remember”

I’m proud to announce our upcoming “Hike to Remember” for all those that have lost someone to the ravaging effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. My twin brother Jamie and myself are set to hike the 51 miles of the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway starting on our birthday Saturday October 9th.

Our Dad passed away four weeks ago at the age of 64. He had dedicated his last 4-5 years to numerous studies at Boston University’s Alzheimer’s Research Center to help any way he could so millions of other baby boomers won’t have to face this disease.

If there is not a cure within 5 years the number of people affected will rise from 5 million to 15 million. This hike is not only in memory of our Dad but to create further awareness of the disease and raise money for the Skip Curtis Fund at BU’s Alzheimer’s Research Center. Please be sure to note the Skip Curtis Fund when making your donation. Any donation amount is appreciated in our quest for Hope.

I will be blogging along the way and hope you will follow us along our journey. Our friend Kristen will also be hiking with us and blogging for the SELF magazine fitness blog. We welcome anyone that would like to join us at any point during our hike.

We will also be giving a donation to the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Trail Club as a thank you for all their hard work in maintaining this little slice of paradise.

Thank you to the generous outdoor retailers that have provided support of our “Hike to Rememeber”!