Trail: Frankenstein Cliff’s trail
Date: Saturday 01/16/2010
Attending: Simone, & John Chicoine
Miles: 1.3 miles to the top of Frankenstein Cliffs Time: 1.5 hours to summit.
Miles: 1.3 miles to the top of Frankenstein Cliffs
AMC huts, / shelters / camping site: None
Weather: This was one of those rare Sunny and in the low 30’s January days in the Whites.
Our original agenda was to hike the Frankenstein Cliffs trail to Arathusa Falls 5 mile loop. The estimated time for the hike was to be about 4 hrs. (Plenty of time.) We arrived at the trailhead at 10:30. The first problem started right at the trailhead, it wasn’t marked. From what we read we felt sure we were on the trail, but at 6 tenths of a mile from the parking lot to the trestle, trail tracks in the snow died out. We were supposed to hike under the trestle, (Another pair of hikers did opt to put on the snow shoes and hiked under the trestle and we watched them hike into the Frankenstein bowl. We opted to bush whack up to the rail road tracks and look for the trail sign to the Frankenstein Cliffs Trail.
Not a good idea! We hiked over the trestle, (that was cool) but it was a dead end street. We never found a trail sign. We tried a few “possible” (well packed in) trails only to find that they just hiked up to ice cliffs for the ice climbers. Eventually we hiked back to where the other group of hikers hiked under the trestle and into the bowl. We decided to follow suit, but it was now 12:20. We’d lost a full hour. The hike into the bowl got quickly seriously steep and we post holed a lot, but we continued to follow the path. (We figured if nothing else we could at least watch the ice climbers climbing every ice flow lining the bowl. Once we got well into the bowl we noticed several hikers hiking past one of the ice flows and up into the side wall. That had to be our trail. We pushed onward and upward, 900 feet in 3 tenths of a mile. Deep snow, post holing, ice covered ledges we had to crawl up. We had no idea we were even close to the cliffs, but we just pushed on. I needed a recognizable milestone to let me know if we were on the right trail, (I was quite sure we were), and to let me know just how much of the trail we had covered. We finally hit the milestone we needed, the view spot at the top of the Frankenstein Cliffs. What a spectacular location. That spot made the strenuous effort worth it all. Unfortunately, it was now 1:30. We had hiked less than 1 third of the loop and we weren’t familiar enough with the trail to attempt to complete the rest of the loop. At this point we decided the devil we knew was the better option than the devil we didn’t. In retrospect I have no doubt we could have hiked out the rest of the loop and that it would have been easier, but winter is no time to push the daylight hours, on an unknown trail. Going back down required a few short butt slides on the ice and snow, we opted to trudge through thigh deep snow out of the bowl rather than try and hike down some of the steep trails that other people but slid for 100 feet or more.
We now know how best to hike this loop. Had we gone up to the top parking lot we would have seen the sign (and very well packed out trail) for Arathusa Falls. We would have easily been able to hike the loop up to Arathusa Falls, and then around to Frankenstein cliff, and out through the bowl.