Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death
Team Sellers hit the hills again this past Sunday (as part of an XTREME sports weekend). Our destination: Mt. Liberty (4459') and Mt. Flume (4328'). Both peaks are the last ones of significance as you traverse the magnificent Franconia Ridge from North to South. (Left to right when viewing the picture).

Our hike began at the Flume Visitors Center where we parked our car and walked a series of paths to gain access to the Liberty Springs Trail trailhead. From there the grade was consistent, not too steep and not exactly flat. The AT uses this path to reach the Franconia Ridge which was our goal as well. Once we gained the ridgeline we turned right and hiked a short distance to the summit of Mt. Liberty. We ate our lunch there (actually lunch consisted of a bag of snack mix made up pretzels, Cheetos, Doritos, and Sun Chips. Hiking is great, you can eat what you want with no worries) and soaked in the fine views of the Cannon/Kinsman range and the Pemigewasset Wilderness. From there we hiked a short and easy 1 mile to the summit of Mt. Flume which is marked by dramatic rock slides on its western face. We didn't hang around for long and soon enough hit our exit path: the much dreaded Flume Slide Trail. The guidebook recommends not using this trail on the descent and perhaps, to accentuate the point, hikers that we passed thought we were nuts to go down this trail. But I knew what we were in for as I had done this very same thing a few years ago while hiking with a friend. The trail is indeed a bitch but it is not overly dangerous if caution is exercised and even if you were to do the loop in reverse you would still have to hike up this trail which is no picnic either. In any case, what must be done must be done and my wife and I avoided the laments of the naysayers and proceeded onward (and downward).

The Flume Slide Trail is basically an elevator shot downward. The trail uses a rock slide that has become more overgrown as the years have progressed. Some sections are characterized by loose scree and pieces of rock and some portions are smooth rock slabs that require some tricky traversing. In terms of elevation loss on the descent, the slide is about 0.7 of a mile and loses about 1500 feet of altitude within that stretch, so yes it is indeed steep. But we did it without too much worry (we did afterall throw ourselves out of a plane the day before) and once at the bottom of the slide the trail is pretty much a level shot back to the car. All in all the hike was fun and my wife was able to bag a few more 4000'+ peaks. Here is a decent site with pictures of the peaks and views we enjoyed on our day in the granite hills.


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