Whoa, we’re halfway there… (you’re welcome for the earworm).
Saturday morning, Kim, Miss Tory and I enjoyed spectacular views (NOT) on the Twins. Driving north on I-93 through Franconia Notch, Cannon and the summits of the Franconia Ridge were all in the clouds. I was hoping it would be different a little further northeast, but the same cloudy summits greeted us there.
Though water levels weren’t high, we still followed the bypass trail along the eastern side of Haystack Brook to skip the first two crossings. The third crossing, considered the easiest of the three, still required careful consideration for rock hopping (and I used my trekking poles) since the current was strong and some areas were knee to thigh deep.
The lower half or so of the North Twin trail is quite pleasant. Some rocks and roots, but also lots of soft footing and even some sandy spots near the river. The “steep and eroded” section described in the guidebook is no joke, either (but still very doable). It’s a glorious feeling when you’re done with that steep climb and a brief bit of rock scrambling and reach the smooth, even ridgeline. On the way up, there were some spots where we could see through a gap in the trees to the summits behind us, which were still in the clouds. However, we could still see the lower slopes from about halfway up.
When you reach the end of the North Twin trail at its junction with the North Twin Spur, be sure to take the “outlook” trail to the right to cross over the true summit. It’s a short bit of trail with a tiny summit cairn approximately halfway to the outlook. It’s also easy to tell when you’ve hit the high point, since you’re going up a little incline and then suddenly you’re descending slightly. I’m sure the outlook is beautiful, but all we could see was fog.
We paused here for sandwiches and a short break, then continued on the North Twin Spur to South Twin. As expected, we had to descend a bit, then ascend. This part of the hike was much easier than the steep section up to North Twin. There were just a couple of ledgy spots that required some butt-scooting to descend.
At the summit of South Twin, we were greeted by (surprise!) a blanket of fog. We couldn’t see a thing. I had a little fun waving in the direction of Owl’s Head, where my friend Josh was hiking. (He said he was waving back. I’ll just have to trust him on that.)
Miss Tory was a real trooper on this hike. I think it may have been her longest one so far, or at least her longest one this summer. At about mile 10 she needed a bit of a break after tiring herself out digging in some sand near the river. Or she may have just wanted to lie down in the cool sand! We let her rest a little, then Kim carried her for a bit until she got her second wind and was ready to continue on her own four paws (her paws were fine and she was well hydrated).
We encountered far more hikers on the return trip than we did on the hike up. We also had to contend with some weather forecast mishaps. Supposedly the rain was going to hold off until about 2:00 PM, but as we all know you need to be prepared for anything in the White Mountains. We were feeling occasional spritzes by about 9:00 AM, but not enough to call it even a drizzle. At the summit of South Twin it was downright misty due to the fog and the wind. (And it was cold! Didn’t need a down puffy, but I did need to put on my light fleece jacket.) We thought we had escaped the rain until it started coming down in a heavy drizzle about a mile from the end of our hike. We made pretty good time after that since we were on a flatter section of trail as we hurried through the raindrops.
Since we had no views, I may end up hiking up to South Twin again after finishing all 48, but from the other side. (I’m now up to 3 summits I want to rehike later due to lack of views.)