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The weather looked reasonable on the November 29-30 weekend of 2008. Continuing with my push to summit more unvisited NH 4000-footers, I selected the pointy peak of Mt Flume. I'd seen Flume from many different angles over the years from nearby peaks, but had not yet had the occasion to summit it. Well, this weekend would be the weekend!

We had company on this hike! Cheery company, too, in the form of Bob and Pu.

As I said above, the weather for the weekend of Nov 29-30 looked reasonable. The forecast was for a short window of partly clear skies on the latter half of Saturday and the first half of Sunday. Given the short amount of daylight hours at this time of year, this meant that we'd be best served by attempting to do Flume very early on Sunday morning, maximizing light and finishing before the inclement weather arrived.

We started out in the early morning dark from the Basin trailhead in Franconia Notch State Park at 5:30am. We headed down the slightly snow-coated recreational path, bound for the Liberty Spring Trail. From there, we headed uphill towards Franconia Ridge, bearing right at the junction with the Flume Slide Trail (Our plan was to ascend the Flume Slide Trail, summit Flume, continue on to Mt Liberty, then complete the loop via a desent of the Liberty Springs Trail). The snow depth on the lower trails was 1-3 inches, and neither snowshoes nor crampons were required. Stream crossings were a little slippery, though...
A start in the dark
Bob's a little tipsy
The trail guides and hike reports of the Flume Slide trail indicated that it was quite steep in it's upper reaches, and could be treacherous when wet. Therefore, although we had all the necessary ice gear (crampons and ice axes), I hoped that there would be enough snow to make that part of the trail a little less challenging.

As we contoured into the basin southwest of Flume, we gained very little altitude. We could also see the summit of Flume, including it's steep west face, far, far above. It was clear that this trail was saving all it's elevation gain for one big, juicy climb!

Fortunately, the snow depth increased as we climbed. The slide portion was indeed snowed in enough to make snowshoes the preferred weapon of choice, and we donned those as the terrain got steep. And steep it was! Rentlessly, the Flume Slide trail climbed straight up, not wavering much in it's pitch over a good 1,500 feet of elevation gain.
The start of some views
Steep, but covered
We pause every so often on the steep ascent of the slide (the slide itself is not very wide, by the way -- maybe 15 feet wide in most places). As we gain altitude, we get limited views out west, and we can see the oncoming change in weather. Still, the sun shines wanly down on us through a high, thin layer of cloud.
Nearing the top
Franconia Ridge Tr Junction
Discovering the view
Finally, we arrive at the end of the Flume Slide Trail and reach the Franconia Ridge trail. From here, we'll be travelling north along the crest of Franconia Ridge, summitting Flume and Liberty.

After a short break, we turn north towards the summit of Flume. It is only minutes before we surmount a steep bit of trail and emerge onto the edge of a steep, open bowl near the summit of Flume. It is a sudden change, and an amazingly scenic spot. The snowy scene and unique light afforded by the changing weather make for a memorable scene.
Flanks of Flume
Hiking to the top
Bob on Flume
We take many pictures here, and dally for a bit to take in the fantastic view. The trail from here to the summit is fantastic, too, following the edge of the steep open bowl, all the way to the summit (which isn't far away at this point, perhaps only a few minutes' walk).
Upper Franconia Ridge
Jenn and Pu
Final push
Flume's Grand View
Mt Flume Summit
Flume Summit View
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