Not Quite Deja Vu
The day started with an eerily familiar feeling and why wouldn’t it? I had woken early and had the usual fight against my desire to stay in bed, catch up on Netflix, and enjoy the quiet comfort of home versus heading to the mountains and subjecting myself to their whims. Like so many times before, I found myself pulling into the parking lot I use to meet friends at before heading north. And like so many previous trips, we were heading toward the mountains with only a semblance of a plan—nothing serious or set in stone.
With no real plan, we pulled into Lafayette Place parking lot thinking it would be a great day to hike Franconia Ridge…apparently everyone else had the same thought, as the parking lot was packed. Not only full of cars, the lot was a beehive of activity and crowded with hikers and groups of all ilks preparing for their day. While the lot was not yet at capacity it was still relatively early and it wouldn’t be long until the overflow of cars began lining the side of 93. With the White Mountains being a large place (and a place I consider an escape), we moved on hoping to find a less crowded objective for the day. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I had a nagging feeling that I had been here before.
We decided to try our luck on Mount Garfield in lieu of Franconia Ridge. Driving down the dirt road to the parking area, we could already feel the more quiet and relaxed nature of the mountain. It’s amazing what distancing yourself a few miles from 93 can do. Arriving at the parking area, we discovered it to be busy but not crowded and with an acceptable level of activity considering it was a holiday weekend. As I moved up the trail, that familiar feeling shimmied back into my thoughts but I shrugged it off and contributed the familiarity of multiple trips up this trail.
We moved quickly and surprisingly encountered only a few other hikers. Around three quarters of the way to the top, we stumbled upon some ice and snow that made upward progress a slow and careful affair. In the back of my head I thought, this is just like last time. Cresting tree line, the sun and humidity that enveloped us at the parking lot had disappeared and in their place were strong winds and threatening clouds. Pulling on jackets and hats, we sought protection from the wind behind some large rocks and sat down to snack and take in the dramatic view. Once again my inner monologue reminded me you have been here before.
Driving home, we once again passed Lafayette Place and were proven right in our assumption—cars lined the sides of 93 a quarter-mile in each direction of the parking lots on both sides of the road. I knew we made the right call in moving on and once again that nagging thought of course you made the right decision…you have done this before. Once at home, I downloaded some pictures and noticed that we had hiked Garfield last May as well. I dug a little deeper and discovered that Ashley and I had headed north to hike Franconia Ridge and, turned off by the huge crowd, opted to hike Mount Garfield last Memorial Day weekend. Turns out it wasn’t a mere case of deja vu after all.