August 15, 2015

Mount Lincoln Panorama

I spent the last week on a family vacation in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire. It has been a great vacation with lots of family time and lots of photography time.

If you’ve been following me on Facebook you’ve seen a few images from the week including some night sky shots and a couple of images from Georgiana Falls (all of which will make it to the blog). I also posted a few images from the highlight of the week, an epic hike on the Franconia Ridge Loop trail.

The Franconia Ridge Loop is consistently listed as one of the best trails in the country. With an elevation gain of over 3000 feet in 4 miles and a total of 9 miles, it is not an easy hike. But it is worth every step. It takes you up to the Franconia Ridge Line where you traverse three of the White Mountains’ 4000 footers: The deceptively named Little Haystack Mountain (4,760 ft), Mount Lincoln (5,089 ft) and the highest of the three, Mount Lafayette (5,249 ft).

My companions on this adventure were my sons Ryan and John, and John’s girlfriend, Amanda. We took the Falling Waters Trail for the ascent to Little Haystack Mountain, stopping at Stairs Falls and Cloudland Falls for photographs (I’ll be posting them later this week). The climb was steep, very challenging, and incredibly rewarding. When you break through the tree line near the summit you are greeted with a spectacular view of the White Mountains.

From there you make your way across the ridge to Mt Lincoln, then on to Lafayette. On the descent we stopped at the AMC Hut to rest up and refuel for the final push down the Old Bridle Path to complete the loop.

The entire loop took us a little over 11 hours. But it could have taken us much longer had I not shown great restraint. Photographic opportunities abounded along the Falling Waters trail. I could have easily unpacked my gear a dozen times to shoot, but limited myself to the two waterfalls. Once on the ridge line, however, all bets were off. I stopped often to grab photos, falling behind my much younger and very patient companions.

In hindsight I could have carried less gear. My pack was filled with the Olympus OM-D E-M1, with the 7-14, 12-40 and 40-300mm pro lenses, with my tripod secured to the pack. Add that weight to the 2 liters of water, food and extra layers of clothing, and I was carrying a pack that topped 20 lbs. For over 11 hours. It definitely slowed me down in the last 4 miles or so, but I don’t regret it. I used every piece of gear and got a great crop of images.

The pano above is comprised of about 8 shots, hand-held, shot with the 40-150 at 60mm (120mm full frame equivalent). Below is a shot of my son John on the ridge line approaching Mount Lafayette. Below that is John, Amanda and Ryan on the summit of Lafayette.

The pano is a whopping 12,000 pixels wide. To see a larger version of it, click here.

John, on Franconia Ridge approaching Mount Lafayette

John, on Franconia Ridge approaching Mount Lafayette

John, Amanda and Ryan at the summit of Mount Lafayette

John, Amanda and Ryan at the summit of Mount Lafayette

John documented the entire hike on video using my EM-5 with the 17mm lens. I’ll be sure to post the finished film here when it is done.

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