Greenleaf Hut and Eagle Lakes
We stopped for a final drink and snack break at the hut (which was closed for the winter, but still has a few places to sit on benches and such outside). Chris and Gillian were clearly getting a little weary of the day's hiking; I knew that at this point, they just wanted to get the hike done -- and done at a reasonable hour.
It was twenty minutes before 4pm, and I figured that probably still gave us enough time to get down before sunset.
Lafayette and Eagle Lakes
The final stretch to close our loop involved a hike down the Old Bridal Path from the Greenleaf hut. This goes down atop the crest of the ridgeline I pointed out in photos a while back, then switchbacks down to the valley bottom and meanders its way a bit before arriving at the junction with the Falling Waters Trail where we had put on our snowshoes many hours ago in the morning. Chris' boots had pushed too far forward in his snowshoe bindings and was giving him some annoyance, so he decided to take them off and bareboot / slide down the fairly steep but always snowy trail. Gillian and I elected to keep snowshoes on and were therefore slower. Chris was soon gone from sight.
The Old Bridal Path's track along the descending ridgecrest meant that every so often, there was a great view west over the basin of Walker Brook towards Franconia Ridge, now several thousand feet of elevation above us. It was an excellent way to get a final overview, a recap of the grand journey we had accomplished today.
Back up towards Greenleaf
Surveying the Accomplishment
Even though the trail was in very good winter condition, the descent down off the ridgeline and to the completion of our loop was tedious. We were getting tired and were just looking forward to sitting in the car.
We closed the loop at the Falling Waters trail junction shortly before sunset, and a few minutes later, we got back to the trailhead.... right around sunset (perhaps a few minutes beyond). In general we'd arrived at the time we had hoped for. Our hike had been a great success, really. Everything had gone reasonably according to plan.
Yeah... so as I've already mentioned, this day and this hike had gone quite well. The weather had been perhaps a bit colder than ideal, but more than sufficient for safe passage. Otherwise, the conditions had been great: snow, trail, air clarity, all had been absolutely perfect. It had been a very good day, a very good day to show off one of the best hikes in the Northeast. Thank you, Chris and Gillian, for agreeing to go so last-minute!
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Franconia Ridge Loop - click map to view
Franconia Ridge - Falling Waters/Bridle Path - Hike Data
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain:
Total Elevation Loss:
* : +/- 75 feet